Livsreise Norwegian Heritage Center
In 2011, members of the Edwin E. and Janet L. Bryant Foundation, Inc. board of trustees conceived of a Norwegian Heritage Center where Stoughton, Wisconsin residents and visitors to the community could come to learn of Stoughton’s Norwegian identity and relate its culture. The 15,000 square-foot center, whose Norwegian name is Livsreise, meaning life’s journey, features a Planar® Mosaic® Architectural Video Wall.
Livsreise, located not far from Madison, Wisconsin, attracted thousands of Norwegian immigrants from the early 1800s to the early 1900s. Within the center there is a 1,100 square-foot exhibit space anchored by an interactive Planar Mosaic video wall called the Map Wall. This video wall engages visitors and allows them to experience an immigrant’s journey from Norway to Wisconsin as no other technology makes possible.
In addition to the Map Wall, Livsreise features seven independent Planar Mosaic video wall tiles in an adjacent Journey Wall; five touch-enabled Planar® PS Series LCD displays in the center’s Heritage Kiosks; and four Planar® PT Series LCD displays in what are called Story Kiosks.
“The Planar Mosaic Map Wall is our crown jewel,” says Marg Listug, Manager of Livsreise. “It really brings the Norwegian immigrant experience to life in a unique way. And along with the other Planar displays, it has established Livsreise as the place to learn about this rich culture and the important connection it has to so many of us here in Wisconsin.”
A unique medium for storytelling
For help in creating this unique experience, the Heritage Center turned to Madison-based ZEBRADOG, a multidisciplinary firm known for its ability to use technology as a platform for storytelling. The ZEBRADOG team – led by Mark Schmitz, Creative Director and Chris Moore, Vice President and New Media Director – saw that Planar Mosaic would make an ideal storytelling solution. As a video wall, it could be built with Planar’s square tiles (Planar® Salvador™ AD22) and mounted in a unique configuration that would support life-like, 4K narrative videos of an immigrant’s journey from Norway to Stoughton.
The ZEBRADOG design teams specified an array of 33 Planar Mosaic video wall tiles for installation on the front-end wall of the exhibit space. An interactive table in front of the video wall allows viewers to create individual videos of an immigrant’s journey by interactively selecting items a person would carry on the trip, even choosing sail or steamship passage for the ocean crossing. “We created database software that brings the chosen items and ship type together in a three to four minute video loop to recreate a journey – including the sounds the traveler would have heard. It is all output to the Planar Mosaic video wall in such a way that the viewer is immersed in the experience and feels as if he or she were actually on the trip,” says ZEBRADOG’S Mark Schmitz.
“When anyone walks into the exhibit space – and that includes Livsreise staff and our members too – their attention is immediately drawn to the Planar Mosaic video wall. The unique layout of the display tiles and the brightness and clarity of the images is simply captivating, and is beyond what we expected,” says Sara Johnson of the Bryant Foundation.
Professional Audio Designs, Inc. was the integrator on the project, providing installation, assistance on system design detail and help with on-site troubleshooting and communication with Planar.
Key decision factors for Planar Mosaic
Explaining why Planar Mosaic was selected as the center’s primary display platform, ZEBRADOG’S Chris Moore points first to its configurability; notably that the video wall could be arranged in such a unique and different way, with the LCD video tiles installed in a distinctive, rectilinear orientation. “It’s far more distinctive and attention-getting than a traditional video wall and really allows us to showcase beautiful 4K content.” Moore adds that the configurability of Planar Mosaic led to a design that mirrors Livsreise’s logo while also reflecting many other architectural and design elements in the exhibit space. “This level of design integration is so different, and is not easily achieved with a standard 16:9 video wall. It makes Planar Mosaic part of the holistic experience, which in turn further enriches and enlivens the center and makes it all the more memorable.”
A second deciding factor for Planar Mosaic is its off-board power supply design. This allows the power supply module to be located in a remote rack room, thus minimizing heat and noise at the video wall. “Removing heat significantly helps reduce the likelihood of failures and preserves the life of the video wall,” Mark Schmitz says. “Less heat also means less environmental stress on key artifacts in the exhibit such as Norwegian artwork and tapestries.”
“We love the fact that this design makes the video wall so quiet,” says Marg Listug. “It helps create a sanctuary-like environment that allows people to more fully experience an immigrant’s journey including the sounds of their trip and those they would hear upon reaching America and then Stoughton.”
Finally, there is the image quality of Planar Mosaic. On both the Map Wall and the Journey Wall – where static images are displayed on individual video tiles – the picture quality is bright and crisp. This reflects the displays’ matte-like screen finish, 450-nit brightness, LED backlight technology and 960 x 960 resolution.
Other displays provide individualized information access
The Planar PS Series and Planar PT Series displays complement the Journey Wall and Map Wall by providing more individualized, touch-screen access to digitized historical and cultural information, as well as to information that relates to objects and artifacts shown in physical display cases in the center. Specifically, five Heritage Kiosks – each housing a single 46-inch Planar PS Series interactive display (PS4661T) – provide touch access to general information about Norwegian culture, such as its music, dance and art. The four Story Kiosks – each housing a single 32-inch Planar PT Series interactive touch screen monitor (PT3285PW) – function as digital books that can be paged through, with multi-touch technology utilized to digitally recreate the experience of turning the pages of a book.
As to the important features of these displays, ZEBRADOG’S Chris Moore cites the Planar PT Series’ ability to support interactive gestures such as swiping, for example; and the Planar PS Series displays’ portrait orientation, which provides bottom-of-the-screen touch access to children and adults with physical limitations. “Also, both the Planar PT Series and Planar PS Series LCD displays are durable and dependable, so they’re readily able to stand up to the high traffic that the Livsreise center experiences.”