JBA CONTINUES ITS LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP AS THIS UNIQUE FACILITY EXPANDS
When they first began to think about a museum dedicated to World War II, historians Stephen Ambrose and Dr. Gordon H. ‘Nick’ Mueller wondered how they could make this war real to new generations. Could they keep the sacrifice and valor of ‘the Greatest Generation’ alive even as the last veterans passed on?
JBA Trusted Advisors™ Rob Pourciau and Steven Fisher have offered technology consulting to the New Orleans-based WWII Museum since 1999 (before they joined JBA). They started with the integration of the security, telecomm and data systems in the original building, then helped them move into digital, network-based audio and video as the campus grew.
- The original D-Day Museum featured compelling audio and video clips in which the veterans tell their own stories. Many of them were gathered by Ambrose as he worked on Band of Brothers and other books.
- In 2005, the Museum asked Tom Hanks to produce and Phil Hettema to design Beyond All Boundaries, a 35-minute ‘4D’ multi-screen production that tells the story of the war through a series of eyewitness accounts, archival visuals and dramatic special effects.
- As the Museum expanded, curators have continued to add interactive and immersive exhibits such as Final Mission: The USS Tang Experience, which takes guests on the final voyage of the Navy’s most successful submarine.
Since the Museum opened on June 6, 2000, its mission has been to tell the story of the war in a very compelling way. “Our young people can hear from soldiers who, at the time, were 18 or 19 years old, but went over there and did all these incredible things,” explains Robert Farnsworth, Senior Vice President of Capital Programs.
- The WWII Museum has always been a heavy user of technology to help convey the drama, horror and heroism of the war.
- Security has also been a concern, given the high value of the exhibits and especially the need to protect both very young and very old, often-disabled guests.
- Fisher and Pourciau have offered the technology design and technology consulting needed to tell the story of the war and keep its guests and property safe.
A team headed by Fisher has designed security, surveillance and telecom/data systems for every building and exhibit on the Museum campus, while Pourciau came on board helping with the audio system for Beyond All Boundaries and designing and integrating the audio and video technology in the adjoining Stage Door Canteen, a 1940s-style nightclub.
By the time the Air, Land and Sea Pavilion opened in 2013, both had joined JBA. Under their guidance, the National World War II Museum has seen:
- Extensive use of video security/surveillance systems, originally analog but evolving to IP network-based digital systems.
- An evolution from stand-alone tape and DVD players to network media systems based on Medialon servers and show control.
- Ever more immersive exhibits continue to push the envelope. One now under development will allow guests to follow the stories of individual soldiers, sailors and pilots throughout the Museum and at home via a mix of server-based, web-based and RF-ID triggered exhibits and events.
“It really is an honor that the Museum has had enough confidence and trust in us to turn over these projects,” Pourciau says. “They have an all-star creative team, the very best of the best in our industry.”
Farnsworth explains that “Our facility is the prototype for what museums are going to look like in the future and how they’re going to be successful. Technology and immersive environments are becoming absolutely necessary in any museum to tell a meaningful, memorable story.”