When the Smithsonian's Latino Museum opened its gallery at the National Museum of American History in Washington D.C., it marked the Institution's first museum space dedicated to the Latino experience on the National Mall. The 4,500-sq. ft. gallery is designed to engage multigenerational and cross-cultural audiences, and explores diverse stories of Latinos in the U.S. through dynamic, multidisciplinary exhibitions and immersive learning experiences.
The Latino Gallery’s inaugural presentation-Presente! A Latino History of the United States-connects visitors to Latino culture and lays a foundation for understanding how Latino communities have shaped U.S. history and culture. Featuring multimedia exhibits, physical objects and digital storytelling, the exhibition provides broad perspectives in terms of the larger role that Latinos have played in the American narrative.
The display elements in the Latino Gallery include an interactive, multimedia wall at the entrance that provides a prelude to what’s inside. Named ‘Meet Us,’ the large display was installed by audio-visual integrator BBI Engineering and is composed of a nearly 14-foot-long, 8-foot high (7.7) Planar® TVF Series LED video wall with a 1.2mm pixel pitch (TVF1.2).
According to David Coronado, senior communications officer with the National Museum of the American Latino, Meet Us was designed with engaging content to attract visitors, especially Latinos. “Research has shown that Latinos don’t visit museums as much compared to other demographics and one of the reasons why is because they don’t feel included or see themselves represented,” he said. “So, that was something we really took into consideration when we developed this installation. It had to be attractive to Latinos and immediately recognizable as something speaking to them.” But at the same time, Coronado added, the display also had to pique the curiosity of the non-Latino population visiting the National Mall.
Designed with a custom Unity application from Potion, Meet Us features dynamic images that reflect the diversity of Latino experiences in the U.S. and incorporates an imagined background plaza of Latino scenes including urban and rural landscapes.
When visitors approach and stand on a bronze medallion in front of the video wall, sensors trigger one of six virtual Latino greeters to appear and welcome them.
“The experience gives visitors a glimpse of the exhibition and invites them to come in,” Coronado said. “The motion graphics move from right to left, encouraging people to move in the direction of the entrance and follow the chronological layout of the exhibition.”
The Planar TVF Series LED video wall can also be easily configured for other uses. During the early concept phase of the multimedia wall, the museum staff suggested to include the ability to take over the video wall to screen videos or presentations on demand. During a recent press preview, he was able to see this feature in action.
“We wanted to stop the video during speaking remarks and display a splash screen, and were able to seamlessly switch from the default video loop to a static image,” Coronado said. “It was a ‘wow’ moment and it looked amazing.”
Sonia Carr, BBI Engineering project manager, said the Planar TVF Series LED video wall provides a great fit in terms of content and performance, with colors that are bright, vivid and well matched. “It’s immersive, and the interactivity is very responsive,” she said.