Making the Bible Come Alive

June 27, 2018 Chris Cooper

The Museum of the Bible opened late last year in Washington, D.C., just blocks from the National Mall and Congress. The museum has been a smash hit with the public, attracting approximately 565,000 people in its first six months of operation. I’m proud of that because Electrosonic designed some of the museum’s exhibits, and I served as project manager.

Each public floor of the museum emphasizes different aspects of the Bible. Electrosonic was hired by exhibit contractor Maltbie to provide the AV and control equipment, installation, programming, commissioning and project management for the second floor, which focuses on the Bible’s impact on world culture and American history. Electrosonic worked closely with Maltbie, PPI Consulting, content creators C & G Partners and other partners for two years on an extensive range of experiential exhibits.

Our team provided a wide array of equipment for the expansive second floor, which features more than 40 exhibits. They included Christie projectors; QSC Q-SYS DSP audio players; Tannoy, BagEnd, Russound and custom round Dakota speakers; Innovox and BagEnd subs; Renkus Heinz line arrays; Stewart amps; 3M touchscreens; Planar, LG and Sony displays; BrightSign HD video players; and a Microsoft Kinect camera and a Medialon Control System, with Watchout handling the Jerusalem Panarama.

It was truly a team effort. I’d like to especially thank Elliot Nyfield, the lead engineer and Tony Peugh, the chief programmer and commissioning engineer.

One of the keys to the popularity of the new museum is that it appeals to more than just religious citizens. You don’t need to know a lot about the Bible to be struck by the power and impact of the exhibits. The Bible’s impact throughout our history has been far and wide. Some of the areas we brought to life include:

Founding Fathers

This exhibit consists of three (3) separate portrait displays (Planar PS-5552), each with an associated BrightSign video player (HD-1023). Each station is equipped with a motion sensor that triggers the play of the associated BrightSign player.

Battle Hymn

This audio-only exhibit is synchronized with lighting cues that project gobo-style images on the tapestry above.  A single Dakota speaker is sourced by an audio player in the RM214 QSys DSP core. This plays on a continuous loop throughout the day a haunting rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” performed by a solo Cellist.

Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural

Another audio-only exhibit, Lincoln’s 2nd Inaugural features a famous excerpt from his speech being read by various voices.  Each line is coordinated with a lighting cue that highlights the text on the wall as it is being spoken.  A single Dakota speaker sourced also by an audio player in the QSys DSP in RM 214.

Martin Luther King

Here again is an audio-only exhibit synchronized with gobo lighting on the tapestry.  Audio featuring Mahalia Jackson singing is heard in front of a tapestry depicting the civil rights rally on the National Mall.  A single Dakota speaker (Custom Round Dakota FA-501) sourced by an audio player in the RM214 QSys DSP.

Gospels and Spirituals

This (3M C4667PW) touch interactive exhibit allows the guests to peruse through a library of various Gospel and Spiritual songs performed by various artists. The audio from the PC is the source for the Dakota speaker.

Electrosonic is very well known in the museum world. As I like to say, we’re the company that brings visions to life. My team has worked extensively with the Smithsonian Institution, and we brought that expertise to bear for the Museum of the Bible. One of my current projects involves creating immersive experiences at a Presidential library.

Projects like these are why I’m so excited about my job. Electrosonic can take ideas that were just dreams a few short years ago and make them reality. I encourage you to visit the Museum of the Bible, and see for yourself!

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