National World War I Museum
World War I Portrait Wall
LocationNational World War I Museum, Kansas City, MO
Exhibition DesignRalph Applebaum Associates
As visitors arrive at the National World War I Museum they confront the faces of men and women of the Great War who are identified and interpreted in these media installations.
Comprised of ten large-scale monitors embedded in a frosted glass wall, the Portrait Wall continually cycles photographs of men and women involved in WWI, acknowledging the sacrifices made in what for many is the forgotten war. Each screen is paired with a small interactive touch screen that allows visitors to browse the portraits and learn the identity of those military and civilian, domestic and foreign, unsung and honored individuals who experienced the conflict unlike any other ever known.
Press & AwardsCommunication Arts, Exhibit of the Day, May 30, 2008
At the core of the museum are Second Story Interactive’s (Portland, Oregon) Great War Tables. The two 26-foot-long interactive tables provide innovative group and individual educational activities that give visitors the opportunity to delve deeper into the strategic and technological aspects of this monumental event.AIGA Annual Design Competition, Experience Design, 2008I.D., Annual Design Review, Honorable Mention, Interactive, 2008HOW, Interactive Design Awards, Outstanding, November 2007
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the interactive elements at the National World War One Museum is how much they add to the story…Visitors can look at a Lewis Machine Gun, for example, and then turn around to a 26-foot long interactive table to explore its inner workings with a 3D model.
The museum’s displays also help personalize the war and make sense of complex historical events. A 10-screen portrait wall introduces people to the faces of those who sacrificed for the war. Visitors can also watch battles unfold on two interactive video screens, which break down the intricacies of trench warfare and put each conflict in context. Judge Kelly Goto found the depth of immersion impressive, as well as the level of research and presentation of complex materials.2007 SEGD Design Awards, Honor Award, 2007
The museum breaks ground technologically speaking, with the introduction of two 32-ft. long interactive ‘issues tables’ that allow up to 24 visitors at a time to participate in historical scenarios based on the events leading up to and surrounding the war. The stations, which evoke the conference tables used by generals and diplomats during the war, use proprietary sensing technology that allows visitors to interact with simulations, databases, and decisions-making scenarios. Located in the inner circle, they are new at this level of complexity. They not only allow visitors to work in large groups, they allow actual projects to be developed—like creating your own propaganda poster.Communication Arts, May 2007
[M]useums have begun using overhead projectors to create interactive tables that are far more effective than their stand-up predecessors. Not only does a table fill the center of a room, it also provides a way for many people to get involved at the same time. Outstanding examples include one done...by Ralph Appelbaum Associates (produced by Second Story Interactive) for the National World War One Museum.Lighting & Sound America, Judith Rubin, April 2007
There are two Issues Tales, which enable visitors to access vast stores of information and to participate, individually or in groups, in a sequence of educational activities and projects. Each table is functionally a custom video theatre with a horizontal screen and multiple projection sources. It has six interactive multimedia stations and accommodates up to 24 people at a time.“High-Tech Home for an Old War,” The Christian Science Monitor, David Conrads, December 6, 2006
At two interactive media tables, visitors can take part in activities that deal with diplomacy and the forming of alliances and the tactics and strategies of war. They can learn about aerial photography and camouflage, learn how a Lewis machine gun operated, create a propaganda poster, or take a crack at decoding the Zimmerman Telegram. The infamous German communiqué tried to persuade Mexico to go to war against the US, but served instead to fuel the American public’s anger toward Germany. Extensive diagrams, graphs, and maps throughout the galleries, along with a month-by-month timeline, relate factual information about the war. Animated video panels illustrate major battles.“In the Midwest, Remembering Europe’s Fields of Red,” The New York Times, Edward Rothstein, December 2, 2006
There are interactive exhibits in which flashlights are used like mouse cursors to make selections on an illuminated table.“National Museum for Often-Overlooked World War I Opens,” The Associated Press, Maria Sudekum Fisher, December 1, 2006
The Museum also has interactive stations where visitors ‘role play both making war and making peace,’ and a theater with a 100-foot screen playing rare film footage from the war.“National WWI Museum Set to Open,” ABC News affiliate, KMBC-TV, November 30, 2006
The museum boasts a collection of more than 49,000 artists and uses interactive technology to tell the story of the war from those who lived through it.“Exhibit Brings ‘Over There’ Here,” The Kansas City Star, Matt Campbell, November 26, 2006
The museum also seeks to wow the visitor with high-tech image displays and interactive features. Embedded in the curving lobby wall are 10 plasma screens from which the faces of more than 300 people who experienced the war—Kansas Citians and others—fade in and out of view.
In fact, video seems to be everywhere. There are fluid battlescape maps. The developments of the peace conference after the war can be followed on another screen.
Study tables let visitors play the role of national leaders during the war. They can make decisions and then see the consequences of their actions play out on display screens before them.
In other modes, the tables allow users to create their own war posters or memorial friezes, and then e-mail them.
- Jennifer Guibord
- JD Hooge
- Seb Chevrel
- Motion Designer
- Martin Linde
- Production Assistants
- Shane Farrell, Christian Sabyan
- A/V Integration
- Exhibit Design
- Ralph Appelbaum and Associates
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