The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum: A triumph of tech and inclusiveness
The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum: A triumph of tech and inclusiveness4 minutes
In the heart of downtown Colorado Springs – also known as Olympic City USA – sits an inspiring new attraction: The United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum. Framed by the snow-capped beauty of nearby Pikes Peak, this 60,000-square-foot museum celebrates the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, from Ancient Olympia to today, with a particular focus on Team USA’s athletes in their pursuit of glory.
The museum features 12 interactive exhibits that use state-of-the-art technology to generate custom content for each guest based on their accessibility needs and Olympic and Paralympic interests. Through immersive technology and personalized storytelling, visitors can experience the thrill of success, the sting of defeat, and the power of perseverance – the sort of fundamentally human experiences that connect us all.
A museum for everyone
While there are several museums throughout the world dedicated to celebrating the history of the Olympic Games, what makes the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum (USOPM) unique is its dedication to inclusiveness. The museum showcases Paralympic athletes alongside Olympic athletes throughout the exhibits, allowing visitors to appreciate the achievements of all who belong to Team USA.
The building itself was designed from the ground up to be accessible to all visitors, including those with physical disabilities. Upon entering the museum, visitors are elevated to the top floor – from there, they make their way down through the interactive exhibits, following a subtle winding design that offers a smooth experience for guests in wheelchairs.
The museum also utilizes technology to create an inclusive and personalized experience for each guest. Prior to visiting the museum, visitors can volunteer information about themselves, including any accommodations they might need due to a disability. This information is then stored in an RFID-enabled visitor credential that communicates with the exhibits as the guest moves through the museum, automatically triggering accessibility services as needed.
A collaborative effort, from start to finish
Creating one of the most accessible and interactive museums in the world is an ambitious goal – and the museum team knew they would need an experienced technology partner that could help make their vision a reality.
"We wanted the stories of Team USA athletes and the history of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movements to come to life for our guests," says Peter Maiurro, Chief Communications and Business Affairs Officer for the USOPM. "To do this, we needed to blend historic artifacts and memorabilia with state-of-the-art technology."
Panasonic was chosen because of its global reach, manufacturing capabilities, and design and technological expertise – particularly when it comes to creating immersive and inclusive experiences for theme parks, entertainment centers and live events. And our respected presence in Olympic City USA as a result of our work on the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center – as well as our longstanding relationship with the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee as a TOP sponsor for the Games – meant that there was built-in synergy from the start.
Our professional audio-video solutions can be found throughout the museum galleries, including projectors, interactive digital displays and even security cameras. "Through Panasonic's world-class technology, guests are able to really immersive themselves as they learn about and experience the journeys of America’s athletes and the Olympic and Paralympic movements," Maiurro said.
But where Panasonic truly brought value was not just as a provider of cutting-edge tech, but as a trusted consultant.
When it comes to planning a museum, what often happens is that it will be designed with today's technologies in mind, even though it won’t be open for another 24-36 months. This means that some of the technology might already be obsolete by the time the attraction launches – leading to a poor visitor experience or even budget excesses as project owners scramble to solve tech issues they didn’t anticipate.
Having a direct relationship with the technology partner right from the start, however, can ensure that these sorts of issues are accounted for. In the case of the USOPM, getting involved early on in the design process allowed Panasonic to share emerging technologies and product development roadmaps. Our technological expertise enabled us to help the USOPM navigate their AV budget throughout the process – and in some cases, we were even to able to hone our product development to ensure their success.
In this consultative role, Panasonic was not only responsible for identifying the right tech solutions, but also for integrating these disparate solutions into a cohesive whole. Mobile apps, audio tracks, keypads, video captions, RFID-triggered customization and more – all of these elements have to communicate with one another to create a seamless, immersive and personalized experience for each guest.
Bringing the Olympic spirit to life through technology
The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum serves as a one-of-a-kind tribute to the Olympic and Paralympic movements, as well as to the achievements of Team USA throughout history. By utilizing cutting-edge technology and a collaborate design approach, the USOPM team and the city of Colorado Springs were able to realize their vision of a museum experience that is engaging, relevant and authentic for every visitor.
"To build a world-class museum, you need world-class partners," says Maiurro. "Panasonic was certainly part of the impressive team that helped execute this extraordinary vision in a powerful and compelling way."