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The Buzz: Installation Spotlight: The Touch and Feel of Music

Apr 14, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jessaca Gutierrez

The Grammy Museum, Los Angeles


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Four Digital Projection 
dVision20sx+ XB projectors and a table with capacitive touchscreen foils embedded underneath the glass allow visitors to the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles to explore the sometimes surprising connections between music categories. Guests can access photos, songs, and dialogue.

Four Digital Projection dVision20sx+ XB projectors and a table with capacitive touchscreen foils embedded underneath the glass allow visitors to the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles to explore the sometimes surprising connections between music categories. Guests can access photos, songs, and dialogue.

Modern society is never too far from its music, from cell phone ringtones to music-infused commercials to satellite radios to, of course, our MP3 music players. It's only natural, then, that there should be a high-tech museum devoted to music in all its forms as it evolves alongside technology. The Grammy Museum is a 30,000-square-foot, four-floor labyrinth occupying part of the L.A. Live campus in downtown Los Angeles, nestled among trendy shops, bars, and restaurants. There, museum guests learn about music making and music history from cutting-edge exhibits.

The museum hired Design and Production (D&P) of Lorton, Va., to create all the exhibits. From the ticket window to a theater finale, guests don't just use their ears to learn. Almost every exhibit combines audio, video, and custom mechanics to create a truly interactive and immersive event.

As guests enter the museum, they are met with a sweeping projector installation, dubbed "Grammy: The Greatest Music," which spans the length of the nearly 35ft. hall. There are six Digital Projection dVision30sx+ XB projectors shooting synchronized video to two Da-Lite 30ft. projection screens on both sides of the hall. The screens are perforated to allow multichannel audio to flow out into the hall from the eight JBL Control 128W in-wall loudspeakers that are hidden behind the screens.

One limitation of the installation was the physical space of the museum. Because the design and architecture of the museum were set in place before AV was brought in, D&P had to customize many of the exhibits to fit limited spaces. For example, in the same hallway video-projection installation, D&P had to make accommodations for the throw distances. Although this is a common challenge in the industry, it's still a process that can take time and requires lots of patience to attain the alignment that's critical to fill the screens. This is particularly true of the Greatest Music exhibit, where the video is synced together so that, at times, it forms one long image spanning the length of the hallway.

One important aspect of this museum installation was that some of the AV equipment was donated by manufacturers. It isn't unheard of for manufacturers to donate equipment, and museums usually try to attain sponsorships, donations, and gifts to cover the large expense of the technology that's required. At the Grammy Museum, such equipment donations proved crucial to the effectiveness of the exhibits, given they are all about sound.

"A huge advantage was that few museums have a budget for DSP and higher-end audio systems," says L. Sue Lepp, senior vice president of D&P. "This donation was key to the delivery of quality sound."



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