Thursday, October 18, 2007


I think this is another good step at bringing cultural centers alive downtown.

Interactive museum set for Statehouse
Thursday, October 18, 2007 4:00 AM
The new museum will be built on the ground level of the Statehouse. It will have touch-screen displays and images projected on the ceiling and walls.

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Hilferty Museum Planning and Exhibit Design

The new museum will be built on the ground level of the Statehouse. It will have touch-screen displays and images projected on the ceiling and walls.

State officials have approved building not one but two new Statehouses, both made entirely of glass.

One will light up internally to highlight architectural features. The second will project video and photographs on the walls showing major events in the 146-year history of the Statehouse.

Of course, the two new Statehouses will be pretty small: 4 feet wide and 18 inches tall, about one-64th the size of the real thing.

The models will be part of a $3.5 million interactive Statehouse Museum that by March 2009 will bring eye-popping interactive electronic exhibits and innovative hands-on displays to the rather drab ground-level floor or "crypt" level of the state capitol. The project will be funded with private donations from the nonprofit Capitol Square Foundation, along with $741,000 previously approved by the state legislature.

The Capitol Square Review and Advisory Committee, the panel that oversees the Statehouse and grounds, unanimously approved plans for the 15,000-square-foot museum yesterday.

"Our greatest hope," said Richard H. Finan, former Ohio Senate president and chairman of the board, "is that the Statehouse itself, complemented by the new museum, will inspire the next generation of public servants."

About 61,000 people toured the Statehouse last year; another 24,000 came for special events.

While it won't compete with Disney World, the new museum will feature state-of-the-art interactive technology: touch-screen displays, mini-projectors and images projected on ceilings and walls.

There also will be backdrops where visitors will be able stand at a podium and deliver their own State of the State speech or sit at the governor's desk and sign a bill into law as the governor -- and have it all captured on video.

Another electronic feature will allow visitors to try their hand at the daunting task of balancing the state budget, using a tabletop pie chart and colored balls to allocate spending for various categories. Computerized budget "experts" will be available to help.

Elections also will be highlighted, with a look at voting technology from the ballot box to touch-screens, as well as video displays for campaign TV commercials.

One highlight of the new museum will need no bells and whistles: the Ohio Constitution, displayed in a sealed case. Officials were uncertain whether the fragile original 1802 document or its 1851 successor will be exhibited.

Gerry Hilferty, president of Hilferty Museum Planning and Exhibit Design, a top national firm located in Athens that planned the museum, said no other working Statehouse in the country will match Ohio's high-tech presentation. Hilferty's clients include the Lewis and Clark Visitors Center in St. Louis, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, Ky., and the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Charles R. Moses, chairman of the Capitol Square Foundation, said private donations still are being raised to pay for the museum project. More than a dozen local companies and foundations have contributed, including $100,000 from the Wolfe Foundation. John F. Wolfe is chairman, publisher and CEO of The Dispatch.

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