“Reach Out and Touch Someone”

Hey, hey you… I’m going to let you in on a little scoop.  Coming in 2011 the museum is developing a theme that we are internally calling “Get in touch with the Museum.”  This is going to be a full year of rolling out exciting openings, interactive elements, and programs all designed to engage the senses, stimulate the mind, and just have fun with cool stuff. 

            One of the biggest parts of next year is going to be the piece that inspired the theme.  The Microsoft® Surface™ multi-touch table top is a unit that runs interactive programming.  Basically, think Ms. Packman meets Star Trek.  The screen of the unit faces up and visitors will be able to sit or stand to interact.  The visitors will be able to scroll through several programs including a timeline of the three Seminole Wars, a map of a camp on which you will put actual game pieces that will guide you from place to place and tell you all about living in a camp, and a stickball game that up to four people will be able to play. 

            The table will actually arrive later this year in August of 2010, but because the programming is so intensive it will take several years to roll out all of the games, maps and stories.  To start, Quatrefoil Associates, with the help of the museum staff, will be putting together an interactive timeline of the three Seminole Wars.  This program will highlight the battles, leaders, weapons, and treaties of those wars in a graphical representation which will also include reenactment footage, archival documents, contemporary accounts, and artifact images.  Visitors will be able to interact with the timeline in several ways to go more in depth.  Important dates will link with images of artifacts either related to those events or are emblematic of that time period.  Along with the interactive Seminole Wars timeline, there will also be a static timeline showing concurrent events from around the county and the world.  This will help to show the context of the war periods.

            Other ways in which the Museum will invite people to “get in touch” will be though a technology called iCell.  One might think this is the latest product for making phone calls and listening to music but it is actually a proximity sensor system that reacts to body heat.  When the viewer comes close to touching an area or taps on a surface the infrared sensors detect the body heat and trigger a backlight and a video on a nearby monitor.  The videos highlight a certain interesting snippet of information on a piece, or a depiction of how something was used. After a beta testing of the product in the upcoming Tools of War exhibit we are hoping to add the technology to several of the permanent exhibits.

            Also in 2011 we will be expanding the already in place Guide By Cell® tour stops found throughout the current Postcards and Perceptions: Culture as Tourism exhibit and out along the Boardwalk.  If you haven’t tried out the tours come by and give a listen, there are no hand held units to rent or headphones to share. Simply use your very own cell phone to dial up the tour stops and hear Tribal Members tell their stories in their own words. 

            Everyone in the Exhibits Department and especially me are really looking forward to the next year and all of the exciting things we are developing.  The Microsoft® Surface™ will be a show piece in the museum and will also serve as a show piece for South Florida while keeping the first tribally owned museum accredited by the AAM on the cutting edge.  And along with the rest of the technological advancements and exciting upcoming programs, 2011 is the perfect time to “Get in touch with the Museum.”

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Author: Greg Palumbo

Hi, my name is Greg Palumbo and I am the Exhibits Manager at the Seminole Tribe of Florida's Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki-Museum.

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