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Electrosonic Provides Interactive Workstations and Video Displays for New Permanent Exhibition at New York City’s National Museum of the American Indian

Copyright: Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, photos by David Sundbe

Burbank, Calif. USA — (March 18, 2011) – Visitors to the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) in Lower Manhattan are discovering the beauty of Native American artifacts and the stories behind those stunning objects in the new permanent exhibition, “Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian,” planned to be in place for the next decade.

Electrosonic engineered, provided and installed 20 exhibits for “Infinity of Nations” –10 linear video stations and 10 interactive workstations housed in the NMAI’s George Gustav Heye Center in the Old Customs House. Five years in the making, the new permanent collection reflects the geographic and chronological scope of the museum’s collection, and includes magnificent headdresses, robes, beadwork, baskets and vessels, as well as works by contemporary Native American artists.

Linear video station

“Preparing for ‘Infinity of Nations’ required the first major renovation of the historic Old Customs House in recent times,” notes Electrosonic senior sales consultant Bryan Abelowitz. “The building’s architecture is incredible. It was a challenge to protect the fabric and integrity of the building while showcasing the collection for 21st-century visitors.”

With 700 objects on display, NMAI puts a new emphasis on aesthetics, beauty and art. The artifacts, arranged by geographical region from the tip of South America to the Canadian Arctic, are supplemented by ten linear video stations that display video clips, short texts and brief interviews with historians who help relate their stories. The stations comprise 15-inch Boland monitors with Alcorn McBride Binloop solid-state players.

Ten more interactive workstations from Electrosonic highlight focal-point objects representing each region, including a Mayan bas-relief depicting a ball player, an elaborately-beaded Inuit woman’s inner parka, a Chumash basket with a Spanish-coin motif and a Mapuche hand drum illustrating the cosmos. The interactive stations consist of Dell workstations, ELO 22-inch touchscreens and Dakota overhead directional sound arrays that were color matched to blend into the ceiling.

Playback for the linear video stations and computers for the interactive workstations are housed in the museum’s basement control room. Due to the distance, Magenta Cat 5 video extensions were required to feed signals more than 500 feet to the second-floor gallery. The control room also includes signal monitoring, DSP processing and a new AMX control system.

The Museum

“The network-based control system enables us to monitor things remotely and detect trouble before it becomes an issue,” says Abelowitz. “NMAI has limited technical resources in-house, so everything was designed to be fairly automatic and extremely simple to use.” Electrosonic provides ongoing support and maintenance of the control-room facility.

Robert Haroutunian of PPI Consulting was the system designer. At Electrosonic, Ellen Simich was the project manager, Randy Sherwood the project engineer and Chris Hartwell the AMX programmer.

About Electrosonic
Electrosonic is an international AV company with a strong reputation for working on complex projects, both large and small, and has through its 47 year history developed lasting partnerships with customers and suppliers. Electrosonic brings a unique breadth of experience to each project; backed by solid engineering skills, project management and quality production facilities. Beyond complete integrated systems, Electrosonic can provide a wide range of services including consultancy, technical design, maintenance and operational support.

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin (rubin.judith@gmail.com) is a leading journalist, publicist, strategist, blogger, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She excels at writing about all aspects of design and technical design, production and project management. Areas of special interest include AV integration and show control, lighting design and acoustics, specialty cinema, digital video and world’s fairs. Judith has ties to numerous industry organizations. From 2005-2020 she ran communications, publications and social media for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA, and co-chair of the 2014 IMERSA Summit. She was publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association in the 1990s, now part of the Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA) and has also contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Already making her mark as a magazine and book editor, Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. Launching as a freelancer in the mid 1990s she has contributed to dozens of publications and media outlets including Funworld, Lighting&Sound America, Sound & Communications, Urban Land, The Raconteur and The Planetarian. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute. She has lived in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area, and now makes her home in Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts and theater community.

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