21 May 2018 Attractions Management Handbook

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Attractions Management Handbook - Time Travel

Museums Round Up

Time Travel

We take a look at some of the latest museums and heritage projects either recently opened or taking shape around the world

Julie Cramer


Creating child’s play in Beijing

Lao Niu Children’s Discovery Center of CNCC, Beijing, China

Aimed at children from early infancy through to age seven, Lao Niu Children’s Discovery Center is due to open in Beijing in January 2015.

The 2,400sq m (25,833sq ft) centre will be located in the Xicheng District, with the 50 million yuan (£4.8m, e5.8m, US$8.1m) forming part of the China National Children’s Center (CNCC). Design firm Jack Rouse Associates (JRA), which creates visitor experiences worldwide, has been commissioned to create the new discovery centre. The design brief from CNCC is to provide children with opportunities to understand the diversity of their world, discover their potential and improve their resilience in the face of life’s challenges.

Children will be able to exercise their minds and bodies with observation, practice and exploration via a series of interactive exhibits and creative play experiences. They will also learn how to exercise judgment through testing, exploring and problem solving.

JRA offers a wealth of experience in creating child-oriented centres and museums. These include Imaginosity in Ireland, Guangdong Science Center in China, Enginuity in the UK and Museo de los Niños in Guatemala, as well as the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples, Kohl Children’s Museum and McKenna Children’s Museum in the US. The firm is also currently designing 8,000sq ft (743sq m) of exhibition space for the Children’s Museum of Siouxland in Sioux City, Iowa, US.


Children will be able to exercise their minds and bodies via a series of interactive exhibits and creative play experiences

Children will be able to exercise their minds and bodies via a series of interactive exhibits and creative play experiences
Naval history

Historic sea spectacle for Nova Scotia

Battle of the Atlantic Place, Halifax,
Nova Scotia, Canada

Capturing a defining period in World War II history, Battle of the Atlantic Place will be a bold new piece of architecture for the Halifax waterfront, on a 4.5-acre site. Due to open in 2017, it will incorporate a large interpretative centre and serve as the new home to Canada’s naval memorial, HMCS Sackville.

BRC Imagination Arts has collaborated with the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust and Stantec Architects to create the new centre. BRC’s creative director Matthew Solari, says: “Guests will take a journey that gives them a visceral sense of Canada’s decisive role in winning the war itself. They’ll feel what it was like to serve at sea in a ship under constant threat, to design and build hundreds of ships in an impossibly short period of time, to fly the unforgiving skies over one of the stormiest oceans in the world, and for people and provinces to come together as a nation.”

A simulator will allow visitors to experience operations at sea (night action in a ship or U-boat). On a more human scale, stories will be told from the individual sailor’s point of view on what it was like to serve at sea and how their families coped.

HMCS Sackville, owned and operated by the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust, is the last of the corvettes that served in the wartime fleet. This memorial, and an RCAF Canadian-built Canso Flying Boat, will allow visitors to ‘walk the decks’ with interactive interpretation. A more reflective memorial hall adjacent to this will honour the 5,000-plus members of the Canadian Navy and Air Force who died at sea.

Stantec has conceived a LEED ‘gold performance rated’ building with striking glass façades, vaulted halls and galleries, and public spaces offering spectacular views of Halifax Harbour.


Photo: © BRC Imagination Arts

Canada’s naval memorial HMCS Sackville will be based at the new naval heritage centre

Tracking a rich history in Texas

Nau Center for Texas Cultural Heritage, Houston, Texas, US

The Nau Center for Texas Cultural Heritage, due to open in 2016, is being designed as a regional gateway for tourism – telling the history of the 29 counties that comprise southeast Texas. Located in Houston’s downtown area and along Texas’ Independence Trail, the museum is being conceived as “an aspirational learning centre” where local history and culture can be experienced interactively.

Designed by BRC Imagination Arts, Nau Center will allow guests to discover three pivotal themes: Gone to Texas, Seize Opportunity and Get Big Things Done.

Gone to Texas is a theatrical experience that will bring legends to life, such as the Allen Brothers and Jesse Jones.

Guests will experience a chronological journey through local history in Seize Opportunity, where they’ll stand with Sam Houston at Washington-on-the-Brazos as Texas becomes a republic. Get Big Things Done will highlight the greatest achievements of Texas entrepreneurs and visionaries through interactive learning stations that invite further study in the science, technology, engineering, arts and maths required by each endeavour – locomotive Southern Pacific 982 will be ‘brought to life’ via special effects to recreate the train’s journey across the Texas plains.


Photo: © BRC Imagination Arts

Historic locomotive Southern Pacific 982 will allow visitors to envisage journeys across the plains

Compelling history of US civil rights

America’s National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, Tennessee, US

America’s National Civil Rights Museum, the converted motel where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated, reopened in April 2014 after a major redevelopment – the day after the 46th anniversary of King’s death.

The museum in Memphis has undergone a US$27.5m (£16.8m, e20m) renovation – the culmination of 18-months’ construction, led by architect firm Self+Tucker – to complete the remodelling of the attraction.

Now offering 52,000sq ft (4,831sq m) of exhibition space, the museum features many poignant historical replicas (including one of the buses on which rights activist Rosa Parks travelled), touchscreen displays and archive footage from the civil rights era. Interactive exhibits take visitors on a journey through the civil rights struggle, starting with the slave trade and the notorious ‘Middle Passage’ along which enslaved Africans were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in terrible conditions.

The museum features a replica of the slave ship galley, where visitors can experience the cramped conditions that slaves were subjected to during their journey.

“Visitors will learn about some of the lesser-known civil rights leaders through oral histories and new emotionally charged, multi-user, multi-touch interactives and visually compelling exhibitions,” says museum president Beverly Robertson.


A replica of the bus Rosa Parks travelled on
Business & innovation

Seattle centre celebrates entrepreneurship

The Bezos Center for Innovation, Seattle, Washington DC, US

The Bezos Center for Innovation opened at Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) last October, named after its principal donors, Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie. The extension aims to inspire people to create a better future, while preserving and exploring the past.

Seattle has been the birthplace of many of the world’s most successful companies, including Amazon, Starbucks, Nintendo, Microsoft and Boeing. The Bezos Center has been designed as a celebration of this successful business track record, and also aims to prepare the ground for further homegrown talent, inspiring young students to continue their city’s legacy.

MOHAI worked with local firm Olson Kundig Architects, which has a reputation for being experimental exhibit designers. Another Seattle firm, Pacific Studio, was responsible for the primary design fabrication, while a San Francisco company, Stimulant, created the interactive media.

The centre is a combination of exhibits, oral history, programmes and interactives, asking what it means to be innovative and how do people stay innovative. The Patent Tree details patents over the past 100 years for all types of objects from umbrellas to medical equipment. There are first-person oral accounts from innovators themselves about what inspired them, like Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks. Visitors can record what they think about innovation and are even invited to come up with their own inventions.


Visitors are actively encouraged to be innovative and inventive

Olympic spirit burns brighter at revamped museum

Olympic Museum, Lausanne,

The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, has reopened following an extensive investment programme. A team of 70 companies in total worked on the US$61m (£36.3m, e36.2m) project, including Swiss architects Brauen & Wälchli.

The site’s permanent exhibition space has been increased from 2,000 to 3,000sq m (21,530-32,290 sq ft), while a former second-floor, open-air terrace of 1,500sq m (16,145 sq ft) has been incorporated into the building to accommodate new hospitality areas. All of these areas and gallery spaces now have sweeping views over Lake Geneva and the Alps.

The extensive museum gardens, known as Olympic Park, have been entirely redesigned by Lausanne agency L’Atelier du Paysage. Extended and enhanced, they host works by contemporary artists such as Arnoldi, Botero, Chillida and Tàpies, blending in with the sports installations such as the athletics track, high-jump bar and shot put circle. A new staircase leading from the lake area to the museum entrance has steps engraved with the names of the Olympic torch bearers.

Featuring new interactive exhibits and archive content, the newly designed museum interior aims to offer a 360-degree view of the modern Olympic movement, covering its philosophical roots and the aims of the modern Olympics’ founder Pierre de Courbetin. Also celebrated are the achievements of the athletes and the work of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ volunteers and architects who make the world’s biggest sporting event happen.


The museum offers a 360-degree view of the Olympic movement
Arts & Heritage

Vibrant restoration of landmark house

Kenwood House, Hampstead,
London, UK

Kenwood House in London reopened in November 2013 after an ambitious £5.95m (e7.31m, US$10m) repair and restoration programme by English Heritage. The historic property in Hampstead features interiors designed by the renowned 18th century architect Robert Adam, as well as an internationally important collection of paintings from famous artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer, Turner and Gainsborough.

The 20-month restoration, backed by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and support from the Wolfson Foundation and other donors, represents English Heritage’s second-largest investment in a site after Stonehenge, which cost £27m (e33.19m, US$45.46m).

The Library, or ‘Great Room’, at Kenwood House, built 1767-1770, has been restored to its former vibrant colour scheme. Using evidence from more than 400 tiny samples of historic paint, a newly discovered inventory and some of Robert Adam’s original drawings, English Heritage was able to re-create the complex palette of colours from the original scheme.

In addition to the library, the project saw the restoration of three other Adam-designed rooms, the redecoration of four rooms in the 18th century style, and the repair of the house’s slate roof.

On reopening, English Heritage wanted Kenwood House to feel more like a home. There are no ticket desks or rope barriers, and visitors can enjoy the warmth of an open fire, relax on leather sofas, enjoy the paintings and discover the many stories of family life in Kenwood.

A new Kenwood Tour app has been designed to help visitors explore the house and collections. The app includes specially recorded audio interviews with English Heritage’s experts, and images and information to enjoy while visiting the house.


Photo: © english heritage

The Library has been restored to its former vibrant colour scheme using evidence from more than 400 tiny samples of historic paint

Photo: © english heritage
The Library has been restored to its former vibrant colour scheme using evidence from more than 400 tiny samples of historic paint

Julie Cramer has worked as a news editor for BBC News Online for more than 10 years. She now has a successful freelance writing career.

Originally published in Attractions Handbook 2014 issue 1

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