Petersen Automotive Museum

On December 6, 2015, the Los Angeles-based Petersen Automotive Museum reopened to much fanfare after being shuttered for 14 months to complete a $90 million renovation.

Challenges

Petersen Automotive Museum, based in Los Angeles, had a vision to reopen with much fanfare. Part of the reopening’s goal was to make the space more experiential and the team instantly saw the need for video to become an integral part of the museum experience to help bring the gallery to life.

Solutions

The team selected Panasonic as a video partner to deliver content in fresh, dynamic ways throughout each gallery. They purchased more than 35 projectors and 15 professional displays in an effort to integrate video into every single one of the 25 galleries that spanned three museum floors. The Panasonic lineup provided flexible configuration for each room and allowed them to customize content, such as stitching projection images together with edge-blending technology.

Results

The museum’s grand reopening attracted 38,000 visitors and 500 journalists. The integrated solution provides an immersive, powerful experience that positions the Petersen Automotive Museum as a leader in recreating digitally integrated galleries.

The museum, which aims to “explore and present the history of the automobile and its impact on American life and culture using Los Angeles as a prime example” is one of the largest such museums in the world. Part of that renovation was a significant focus on technology and making the exhibits relevant from an experiential point of view.

Adam Langsbard, Chief Marketing Officer of the Petersen Automotive Museum, recalls that the efforts began with the question: “What is the future of content consumption and what is its role in the museum?” The answer was drawn from overarching consumer trends that can’t be ignored: we consume more video today than we ever have before.

Said Langsbard, “We instantly saw the need for video to become an integral part of the museum experience. Rather than recreate dioramas that show a freeze frame of history, we quickly decided we needed a video partner to deliver content in a dynamic, fresh way throughout each gallery.”

Langsbard and his team delivered on that, integrating video into every one of the 25 galleries across the museum’s three floors. The projection images needed to be stitched together via edge blending technology and as the museum was determining a partner, found that the Panasonic projectors enabled them to customize that content and have a flexible configuration for each room.

“This is where the other companies started to fall off: they couldn’t produce the vision we had for a 180-degree gallery,” adds Langsbard. “We felt strongly about the idea of stitching all these projectors together in a semi-circle so that visitors would be totally immersed in the content, and we needed a technology solution that could build our creative vision.”

The final product was built from 47 Panasonic projectors and 15 professional displays. Each Signature gallery has a distinctive video wall and uses a large number of projectors (ranging from 10–15 projectors per wall).

Said Janesh, “There are many great projectors out there, and we knew Panasonic creates high-quality product. But we wanted to work with one partner for both projection and professional display—and we needed a range of lumen options even within the projector category. Since the heroes of the museum are cars, we wanted to let them be the star and not over or under-power them with the light output. By working with Panasonic, we could work with a range of lumens while maintaining similar color quality and resolution, so the imagery would be consistent throughout.”

"[Panasonic really is] a one-stop shop, which we knew made them a perfect long-term strategic partner for the museum.
Frank Janesh, Project Manager

Another consideration was ease of use and installation. Panasonic’s HDBaseT feature DIGITAL LINK™—which comes native for all the projectors selected and most of the displays used at the museum—enables transmission of uncompressed HD videos, audio and control commands over shielded CAT6 cable. Notes Janesh, “This was a huge benefit and allowed us to keep native format from the output side to input side, without needing additional adapters. As a result, there were fewer things to troubleshoot from an integration perspective. This streamlined the video distribution and saved the museum both time and money.”

The Petersen also integrated Panasonic's cutting-edge Light ID technology, LinkRayTM, into the museum. Using visible light communication, LinkRay(TM) delivers mobile content by enabling ordinary smartphones to read IDs sent from LED transmitters, such as displays, signboards, and spotlights, and to connect to associated mobile content. As museums struggle to attract younger audiences, the Petersen knew that a mobile device-based experience would help them achieve this goal.

The museum incorporated five LinkRay-enabled spotlight LEDs throughout their galleries. By instantly receiving custom content when a patron holds up their device to the spotlight, LinkRay(TM) allows visitors to learn more about the exhibits in an engaging and intuitive way. The museum also installed a LinkRay-enabled professional display in their lobby, optimizing the visitor experience by making information access easier and more fun.

"With Panasonic LinkRay, what we’ve found is the ability to engage a younger audience but also immediately throw content at them that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to consume by way of a traditional museum visit," explained Langsbard. "If you think about it, you walk around a museum slowly: you observe objects, you read plaques, and you move on. But that’s not particularly exciting to millennials. If we could put a device in their hand and say 'how about engage more, learn more, see things, perhaps even interact a little bit?', now that opens up a whole new world of possibilities for us and becomes a very interesting prospect."

The museum's grand re-opening attracted about 38,000 visitors and over 500 journalists, underscoring the power of a digital museum experience. Adds Langsbard, “We know Panasonic can grow with our plans given its holistic approach to consumer endpoints and integrated solutions. It’s not difficult to draw a correlation between how Panasonic sees the future and the direction this museum is headed.”