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Discovery Museum & Planetarium - Bridgeport, CT

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Discovery Museum & Planetarium - Bridgeport, CT
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Customer: Discovery Museum & Planetarium
Location: Bridgeport, CT
Vertical Market: Education
Product: TH1020 and TH1060


Pull Quotes:
“Projectors are fantastic for educational science museums because they allow us to share the huge amount of video and visual imagery about science that exists with large groups of people all at once.” Adam Zuckerman, director of exhibits and public programs, Discovery Museum & Planetarium

Academic Needs
Science and space museum wanted to share high-definition video content with large groups of users in exhibit galleries and auditoriums. 

Expert Solution
The TH1020 and TH1060 deliver 1080p resolutions for beautiful and detailed video images to educate and inspire students and museum visitors.

The Discovery Museum and Planetarium has found creative ways to share content, including space shuttle footage and a real-time video conference, to bring history and science alive.

Hed: Discovery Museum & Planetarium Projects the Past and the Future
Dec: Optoma Projectors Let Museum Share Shuttle Liftoff, First in Flight Conference and More with Museum Visitors

Each year, more than 55,000 children see, hear and touch science, technology and ideas at the Discovery Museum and Planetarium in Bridgeport, CT.  In fact, the museum offers sixty-five exhibits encourage exploration with the senses. Recently, however, the museum decided to boost the visual impact of its programs and activities with state-of-the-art projection technology.

“Projectors are fantastic for educational science museums because they allow us to share the huge amount of video and visual imagery about science that exists with large groups of people all at once,” said Adam Zuckerman, director of exhibits and public programs at the museum.

The Discovery Museum, which functions as both a tourist attraction featuring science and space science exhibits and as an informal science education center, needed two projectors. Optoma’s sales experts made a site visit and identified units that provided the right combination of high resolution, brightness and robust operation to meet the stringent demands of a busy facility. “There are so many projectors on the market, it is daunting,” said Zuckerman. “After talking to Optoma’s salesperson, I was sure we were getting the features we needed.”

Built to Educate

The Discovery Museum needed considerable projection power for both its exhibit gallery and auditorium. The museum’s 20,000 square foot facility includes changing and permanent interactive exhibit galleries, as well as a planetarium, an auditorium, classrooms and more.  

As the museum grew and changed, it found that its old projectors couldn’t keep up with the demand for projection power. It wanted to put new bright, high-resolution projectors to its auditorium and exhibit gallery.  “Before this, we had a projector in one of the gallery spaces that was barely capable of standard television definitions, so we were incredibly limited in that space,” said Zuckerman.  “For the auditorium, we had been borrowing a projector from one of the classrooms when we needed it.”

Projecting Light and Sound

For its Light and Sound exhibit gallery, the museum chose the Optoma TH1020, a native 1080p DLP projector that delivers 3000 ANSI lumens and 2200:1 contrast ratio.  In this gallery, visitors encounter a variety of interactive exhibits. With the projector, the museum can now share educational content on an eight-foot wide by six-foot high screen. These videos help visitors understand the differences between light beams and sound waves, as well as size scales ranging from the vastness of outer space to the smallest molecules.

 “In the unsupervised exhibit gallery, the projector creates interaction and invites conversation,” said Zuckerman. “Clusters of people who walk up to the screen at the same time, whether it’s a family group or complete strangers, end up helping each other interact with the information for a more in-depth learning experience.”

Durability and reliability were key requirements for the projector, since the 6.4-pound projector, which is mounted on the ceiling, runs constantly from opening to closing, in the gallery. In addition, the projectors auto standby mode was an important feature to further preserve bulb life and reduce cost of operation.

Creating Shared Experience

In the auditorium, the Optoma TH1060, a native 1080p high-definition DLP projector, now provides widescreen images on a 16-foot wide screen for life science demonstrations, movies and other content to audiences of summer camp participants and school groups. The projector’s 4500 ANSI lumens and 2500:1 contrast ratio ensures high-quality viewing, while flexible connectivity options allow presenters to hook up to a variety of output sources. Meanwhile, 1080p resolution ensures best results in sharing high-definition content that makes science come alive for museum visitors and summer camp participants.

“Now, we can bring in a classroom or several classrooms of kids and let them see, for example, the latest images from NASA’s Hubble space telescope on a big screen and let a staff member talk to the entire group at once,” said Zuckerman. “It lets us efficiently reach a large group rather than one on one as it would be on a small screen.”

The auditorium also provides opportunity to share live video feeds that provide an almost-there experience for viewers. For example, 114 kids attending summer camp, along with program staff and museum employees, filled the auditorium to watch the televised final launch of the Atlantis space shuttle in July 2011.  “It’s kind of thing that wouldn’t be possible to do any other way,” said Zuckerman.

The new projector has also allowed the museum to exciting new opportunities for conversation and learning. As part of its Bridgeport: First in Flight festival, for example, the museum commemorated the 110th anniversary of Gustave Whitehead’s successful flight in an airplane he built (two years before the famous Wright brother’s flight). On August 14, 1901, Whitehead accomplished a successful powered flight, flying a distance of approximately 800 meters with his home-made, engine-powered monoplane "No. 21". As part of the festivities, the museum projected a teleconference between the mayor of Bridgeport, CT, and the mayor of Leutershausen, Germany (where Whitehead was born).

“The projector allows us to share the meeting of the mayors with an auditorium of people, including a group of dignitaries that included our U.S. senator and several state legislators,” said Zuckerman. “We even got to have a virtual tour of the museum in Germany that is dedicated to Gustave Whitehead. His grandson and great granddaughter were even here to see it. ”

Today and Beyond

These first forays into creative projection of content are just the beginning. The museum intends to continue to inspire and educate by creatively sharing content in both its auditorium and gallery with its Optoma 1