Immersive audio and interactivity at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery

The Spitfire is a well-loved local object. The gallery has created a world-class home with impressive AV that will preserve its history and allow many more people to enjoy the sight and sound of this iconic aircraft for years to come.

- Joseph Perry, Curator, The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery

The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery have created a stunning new home for their beautifully restored Supermarine RW388 Spitfire. The purpose-built extension gives visitors a close-up view of the iconic plane and invites them to explore its history and connections to the town through a range of audio visual experiences and interactive exhibits.

The Museum, owned and operated by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, commissioned Pure AV to design and install the Spitfire Gallery’s audio visual elements. They wanted the solution to tell the story of the aircraft and its designer, Reginald Mitchell, and immerse visitors in the sights and sounds of Spitfires.

The impressive 3,800 ft2 gallery has glass walls at the front and back and a mezzanine level that looks over the aircraft. Visitors can walk around the Spitfire at ground level and head up to the mezzanine for a birds-eye view of the aircraft.


The Solution

The plane is surrounded by a host of fascinating displays, combining videos and animation to invite visitors to delve deeper into the story behind the Spitfire, its designer, and local life during World War Two.

A mix of projected images and flat-panel screens are used within the gallery. The largest is a 5.7m wide projection onto the main gallery wall. 

The glass structure and high ambient light levels make projection difficult. To ensure that the image remains bright and clear, a 12,000 lumen Epson projector was selected. The powerful EB-L1500UH projector delivers vibrant images even on sunny days.

On arrival, a double-sided totem kiosk welcomes visitors as they enter the gallery, the two 43” portrait mounted screens providing information to help them get the most from their time at the museum.

An interactive area on one side of the gallery features a touch table and a 75” wall-mounted interactive display. The touch table encourages visitors to interact with 3D models related to the museum’s Spitfire and World War Two collections.

The wall-mounted screen allows visitors to explore films and animations and dip further into the Spitfire and its history. It is also used by the museum’s Education Team when hosting school groups and explainer sessions.

Additional projection and displays are found complementing the exhibits on the mezzanine level. The size and format of the display are designed to blend with the surrounding information boards. The screens provide a home for videos and animations and furnish visitors with a rich source of engaging content.

The Spitfire is renowned for its roaring engine sounds, and the museum wanted to use this to bring the aircraft to life and create a sense of its power and speed. The result is a flypast experience that uses the audio visual facilities in the gallery to immerse visitors in the sights and sounds of Spitfires in flight.

It begins with a visitor warning before all displays except for the central projection switch to views of an empty sky. The gallery is flooded with the sounds of Spitfires taking off as footage from an airshow is displayed on the main gallery wall. Gradually, the clear skies on each of the individual displays are replaced with footage of the planes in flight as they complete their “flypast”. 

The audio mirrors the passage of the image until each screen and speaker is full of the sound of Spitfires. At the end of the four-minute experience, the screens automatically switch back to their original content.

BrightSign players connected to each display run the content delivery and scheduling. When the player switches to flypast mode, a signal is sent over IP to an Extron control processor, managing the audio routing via a Blu-100 DSP. An Extron control panel gives museum staff overall volume control.

The AV gives us the ability to create that spine-tingling feeling that comes when you hear the powerful engine of a Spitfire.

- Joseph Perry, Curator, The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery


The Benefits

Museum staff are delighted with the new home for the much-loved Spitfire. They enjoy the audio visual system’s ability to share the sights and sounds of Spitfires with visitors and bring the stories and history of the gallery to life.

The interactive exhibits and flypast experience are proving popular additions, with visitors excited to see and hear the sounds of Spitfires in flight. 

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