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The Museum of Flight
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The Museum of Flight

Museum of Flight brings Aviation to Life through Visual Storytelling and Tour Guide Empowerment

We built our Aviation Pavilion project budget around the use of Intuiface, which allowed us to keep overall project costs very low. Having the capability to create interactives with Intuiface enabled the Exhibits team to work independently from an agency. Not only did the team have tighter control over the end project, they were able to create the experience on a much shorter timeline.

Peder Nelson
Peder Nelson
Exhibits Developer and Digital Engagement Manager

 

A veteran holding a tablet introducing an Intuiface experience for the Museum of Flight

Project

An estimated five to six hundred thousand
visitors stop by to explore the Museum of Flight each year. The astonishing
aviation artifacts paired with some of the most knowledgeable tour guides, many
of whom served as pilots in World War II and now act as volunteers, attract
flight enthusiast from all over the world.

Peder Nelson, Exhibits Developer and Digital Engagement manager for the museum,
said, “Our vision is to be the foremost educational air and space museum in the
world.” In order to achieve this top-notch rank, the museum staff grew the
museum campus by nearly twice its size in 2014. The highlight was a 3-acre
display known as the Aviation Pavilion, housing 20 rare and unique commercial
and military aircrafts. With this new space and display, the exhibits team had
a mission of protecting the historical aircrafts while giving guests an
experience they could touch and feel.

 

The decision was to adopt cutting-edge digital
technology within the Pavilion, taking the visitor’s fascination and imagination to new heights
while giving them a behind-the-scenes look into the cabin, cockpit and roles of
the vast range of extraordinary aircrafts. This technology could also empower the 300+ volunteer guides to tell their personal stories in modern and engaging
ways.

 

Challenges

Who’s Flying this Plane? Maintaining
Control of the Experience and Content
It was essential that any new interactives maintained
the voice of the museum. Nelson had worked with interactive design agencies in
the past. Through that process he spent a significant amount of time
communicating the museum’s objectives and vision, significantly slowing
progress.

 

Nelson had second thoughts about working with
agencies so he brought in an Assistant Digital Exhibit Developer/Graphic
Designer, Mandy Faber, to co-pilot all initiatives for interactive experiences.
They had a specific vision for the Aviation Pavilion interactives. They wanted
to own the interactive development process. Nelson says, “When working with
digital design firms, we realized that we were doing 95% of the work. We are
curators and we wanted to reduce time communicating what we had envisioned with
others. Instead, we wanted to find the most suitable design suite and software
to bring the planes and our digital content to life for visitors.”

Can it Weather the Storm and Task at Hand? 

To accommodate the need for aircraft re-configuring as
exhibits and the museum collection changed, the pavilion had to be designed
with an opening on one side. This was especially important in the
reconfiguration of the enormous 747 and 787 prototypes, the latter of which has
a 200-foot wingspan and 56-foot height. With this special design, rain
penetration under the 56 to 87-foot tall roof was inevitable.

Planes in the Museum of Flight



Large-format, stationary interactive displays would be subject to weather. The
weather-resistant qualities of outdoor displays are impressive, but since the
team’s objective was centered on the ability to empower guides by enabling them
to physically hand off interactive “control” to guests, the museum opted for a
tablet based experience. The tablets would also help the museum to meet ADA
Compliance regulations. The tablet can be handed to a wheelchair-bound visitor
just as easily as to someone standing. This device also would also enable
patrons to avoid inclement weather as they can take cover in a dry spot within
the pavilion while still exploring interactive content.

A decision was made to use Microsoft Surface Pro tablets. Interactive content
would have to both perform well and nicely accommodate small format displays.
This would be a top priority when considering a software suite for content
creation.

 

Solution 

Museum of Flight experience of the interior of an aircraft made with Intuiface

“We needed a programming solution that would meet not
only our expectations, but that would allow us to surpass the expectations of
our visitors,” said Nelson. “We had used Intuiface in the past to update some
of our other exhibits and the ease of use and capabilities made the design
suite perfect for our new Aviation Pavilion initiatives. We built our Aviation
Pavilion project budget around the use of Intuiface, which allowed us to keep
overall project costs very low.”

Having the capability to create interactives with Intuiface enabled the
Exhibits team to work independently from an agency. Not only did the team have
tighter control over the end project, they were able to create the experience
on a much shorter timeline. “With a digital design agency, a 6-month timeline
for creating an interactive was typical and would have proved to be costly.
With Intuiface, we are able to complete interactives, from start to finish,
within a shorter timeline and at a significantly lower cost.”

Museum of Flight showing a touchscreen experience made with Intuiface

Nelson addressed the unprecedented speed of
interactive design.“We started work on these interactives at the end of March
2016 and they were completed by  June
25th of that year. Three months turnaround for the project would have been
unheard of if we had worked with an outside vendor for development of the
interactives”

According to the Exhibits team, most of the
project time was spent curating content for the interactive. Since the
experience would incorporate a 360 degree interior view of the planes, the
Exhibits team worked with
,
experts in AR/VR experience curation, to capture visual elements for the
design. Once the content was developed, Intuiface offered a seamless way for
the Exhibits team to organize and deliver the content just as they had
envisioned.

Nelson went on to state his appreciation for the customer support offered by
the Intuiface team.  Nelson and Faber
were not only able to get swift answers and direction from Intuiface Support
personnel, they were also able to bounce off ideas for the adoption of new
product features.

Results

Intuiface-powered experience at the Museum of Flight

With the Intuiface-powered experience at the Museum’s Aviation Pavilion,
the Exhibit staff were able to provide tours and access to its historical
planes, like the B-17 Flying Fortress, and still keep them well preserved. With
interactive digital technology, the interior of the aircrafts were protected
from accidental damage yet easily viewed by attendees.

Immersive view in the space with an Intuiface experience for the Museum of Flight

Not
only are the interiors well represented, but the stories of former pilots and
veterans, now serving as volunteer guides at the museum, are brought to life
with easily-navigable visuals. Guides are able to hand over the controls as
they tell of their personal piloting experiences. Rather than just listening to
the story set in the scene of the cockpit, guests are virtually taken there and
immersed in the story.

Young
visitors to the museum have appreciated the accessibility of the tablet-based
experience. One young visitor explained that it was as if she could carry the
museum around in her pocket. Nelson said,

The
Museum of Flight currently uses Intuiface in four exhibits. The team’s
immediate initiative is to use Intuiface to update four additional museum
exhibits. Nelson says, “The next big project will be updating of the Apollo
exhibit interactives in preparation for the Smithsonian traveling exhibit,
, which launches next
Spring. We are also working on a database interactive for our collection of 427
WWII aircraft models.”

With
regular additions of temporary exhibits, Nelson and the museum staff will have
a lot of opportunity to explore new ways of introducing interactivity to fully
immerse guests in all the adventures and history of aircraft.

The Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight is a private non-profit air and space museum in the northwest United States. It was established in 1965 and is fully accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. As the largest private air and space museum in the world, it also hosts the largest K-12 educational programs in the world.

Do you like the story? Learn more about creating interactive experiences for Museums.

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