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U.S. National Archives & Records Administration

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U.S. National Archives & Records Administration
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Planar Displays Attract and Engage at the Archives and Other Museums and Presidential Libraries

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the nation's record keeper. It has implemented touch-table and video wall technology in the new Records of Rights exhibit at the National Archives Museum to give visitors access to hundreds of documents, images, and videos from NARA's holdings so Americans can learn about the evolution of, and the struggles for, rights and freedoms in the United States.

The touch table technology at NARA is a powerful communication and educational tool driven by Planar's Clarity™ Matrix LCD Video Wall System. This same technology is used in a growing number of museums and libraries throughout the U.S. Among these are The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, The George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, and The World of Little League's Peter J. McGovern Museum in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The NARA implementation exemplifies the benefits and capabilities now enjoyed by visitors to each of these important institutions and the ways these technologies make each library or museum more appealing, more operationally efficient, and more able to achieve visitor-attraction goals and objectives.

Unique technologies enable records access and sharing

While the touch table in the Records of Rights exhibit at NARA is unique in its own right, the experience is heightened by its integration with the Planar® Mosaic™ Architectural Video Wall, a display solution pioneered by Planar that provides a dynamic new way to deliver art and information. In NARA's case, Planar Mosaic is a vertical electronic canvas that depicts large-scale versions of content that visitors have selected at the touch table, which is formed from an array of Clarity Matrix (MX55HD) displays. "Clarity Matrix and Planar Mosaic are a powerful combination," says Daniel Falk, Exhibits Project Manager, National Archives and Records Administration. "They allow more people to simultaneously access and share information in ways that are not possible with a physical exhibit. Also, these are robust, commercial-grade displays that can function reliably 365 days a year and stand the test of use by the million or so visitors that will come through the gallery throughout the year."

Engaging interactivity and information display

With the guidance and assistance of systems integration partner, Design and Production, Inc. (D&P) of Lorton, Virginia, NARA selected the Clarity Matrix displays as the platform for the interactive touch table in the David M. Rubenstein Gallery. The six -wide-by-one-deep (two 3 x 1 ) arrays of displays makes up the 15-ft. long table, whose custom, multi-touch capability allows visitors to select from a rich digital library of records. Visitors can explore the records using touch, swipe and other familiar gestures, and then push the record to the Planar Mosaic displays on the walls near the table. "The interactivity of the table creates interest, especially among students and younger visitors, which is heightened when they can move it to the Planar Mosaic displays. Once on the display walls, the record can be seen by everyone nearby for the purpose of sharing, discussing, or just further exploration and enjoyment," Falk says.

Features that deliver powerful, practical benefits

In selecting Clarity Matrix and Planar Mosaic, D&P points to key features that cemented the decision. Among the most important is the off-board electronics design of both products. With this unique Planar capability, components such as power supplies and controllers are located away from the table and video wall, thus removing heat-inducing elements. "This inherently provides important benefits," says D&P's Dale Panning, Senior Systems Engineer. "The design reduces noise which enhances the visitor experience and precludes the need for additional cooling. It also makes both the Clarity Matrix table and Planar Mosaic video wall really reliable, which translates into higher uptime and lower maintenance and service issues and costs."

A second important feature has to do with the alignment of displays in both the table and video wall. The Clarity Matrix MX55HD displays in the table have a tiled bezel width of just 3.7 mm, which creates a virtually seamless image that is unlike any other in the industry in both thinness and image quality (brightness is 800 nits and resolution is 1920 x 1080). "And even with bezels this thin, we could still install almost invisible spacers between each display to support a custom-made 3/8" glass panel that covers the entire table. This glass protects the displays but still affords the interactive experience," Panning adds.

In the case of the Planar Mosaic, each of the two arrays includes two 22" square tiles (AD22 - Salvador) and four 46" rectangle tiles (AD46 - Pablo). "These displays are mounted in a primarily vertically-staggered arrangement that is both architecturally appealing and interesting for the visitor," Panning says. "Further, while content selected at the touch table currently is shown on the full six-panel array, Planar Mosaic is designed such that individual pieces of content can be assigned to any desired display, a feature the museum expects to take advantage of in the near future." Lastly, Planar delivered on support and service. "Unlike most manufacturers, who might get to you in several days or more if you have a problem, Planar is always immediately available on the phone, and they offer guaranteed two-day delivery of any display should there be a failure, but we haven't had any," Panning says. "In terms of support to the integrator and the end user, Planar is heads above anybody else in the industry."