By Herman Eberhardt, Supervisory Museum Curator
The Roosevelt Library’s new 12,000 square foot $6 million permanent exhibition, which opened to the public in June 2013, features a variety of audiovisual experiences, including an array of interactive touchscreen programs. They help us tell the vital story of the Roosevelt era to new generations of Americans in fresh and engaging ways. These exhibits are just one part of a wider ongoing effort at the Library to harness new media technologies to reach new audiences.
Later this year, the Museum will unveil two new media initiatives that will greatly expand accessibility to our exhibits.
We are currently working with Audio Description Associates of Takoma Park, Maryland, on an Audio Description Tour of the new permanent exhibition for blind and vision-impaired visitors. The tour will be free to the public and available in both and English and Spanish language versions. Museum visitors will be able to download the audio tour to their own handheld devices or access it on one of the free hand-held media players that will be available for loan at the Henry A. Wallace Visitor and Education Center. The tour will also be accessible to online visitors on the Library’s web site.
Another exciting new media program in development is an online, interactive Virtual Tour of the permanent exhibition. Funded by a grant from the Newman’s Own Foundation, this tour will allow users from all over the world to experience our Museum and access additional educational materials. This project supports the Foundation’s goal of providing access to resources that contribute to the development of a civil society.
The virtual tour will employ high definition panoramic photography to give off-site users the experience of walking through the Museum. A zoom function will let users move around the galleries and select and learn more about specific artifacts, documents, photographs, and graphics. The Museum is working with the Dynology Corporation of Vienna, Virginia, on the development of the tour. Dynology is on the cutting edge of this new media tool. In recent years, a growing number of museums have begun to offer virtual tours. But most of these projects have involved art museums. History museums have been slower to embrace this new technology. Recently, Dynology broke new ground in the use of virtual tours in history museums with their innovative virtual tour of the United States Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia. Now they are working with us to expand on that model and create an even deeper and richer virtual experience.
Katherine Sardino, our multi-talented Museum Technician, is leading the Museum’s team on both of these innovative projects, which blend technology with history to advance the Library’s goal of presenting “A New Deal for a New Generation.” Keep watching our website and social media for updates on the rollout of these projects later this year.