Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration

Interactive AV Explores the Stories of Immigrants
Ellis Island, New York

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The Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration opened new galleries in the former Kitchen and Laundry Building of the immigrant processing and detention station in New York Harbor. Dedicated to the story of immigration, the galleries mark phase two of the Peopling of America Center®. Electrosonic provided audio-visual support for phase one, which opened in 2011 to cover immigrant arrival in the Pre-Ellis era, and returned to complete phase two following a two-year delay caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which flooded and destroyed the electrical, communications, IT, and HVAC systems - including the Electrosonic racks.

The Journey: New Eras of Immigration

Due to the delay, some original team members from Hadley Exhibits, media content providers including History Channel, software vendors and Electrosonic were no longer available, but all involved were able to reassemble their respective teams to efficiently and cost-effectively bring the project back online. Electrosonic installed all the racks of equipment, integrated the displays and audio peripherals in the interactive kiosks, and ran all the wiring and fiber optic cabling. All infrastructure systems have now been relocated above future projected flood level.

World Migration Globe

Visitors first encounter The Journey: New Eras of Immigration gallery where a Billboard of Greetings features a looped soundtrack comprised of greetings in world languages and fragments of immigrants’ stories. The entrance area showcases the World Migration Globe. Two projectors housed inside the 5-foot radiant globe display images on the sphere, while a show control system individually controls, monitors, starts and stops the exhibits.

Threads of Migration

The Threads of Migration exhibit graphically shows the connections between visitors’ countries of origin and their current homes in the US on a 65-inch monitor as visitors enter their data on three 17-inch touchscreens. The majority of the interactive kiosks in the Citizenship Gallery are portrait-mounted 23-inch monitors with interactive push buttons. Two Citizenship Test kiosks feature displays and a keyboard emulator, which sends commands to a flash-driven computer in the control room.

Citizenship Gallery

The most compelling kiosks in this gallery are four Citizenship Narratives featuring portrait-mounted 46-inch monitors depicting life-size conversations with new Americans on how they came to our shores in recent years. A short-throw projector mounted vertically with a mirror bounce displays a looped video of the Citizenship Oath for another exhibit. The Population Map asks visitors to enter their ethnicity to see the density of their ethnic groups across the US. The kiosk features a 70-inch monitor, a 22-inch touchscreen in front of the screen and three more mounted on the wall. All exhibits use CAT5 HDMI extenders as equipment is not localized.

Citizenship Test

Electrosonic provided amps and all the exhibit speakers. Each exhibit has an inductive loop amplifier for the hearing impaired. The show control system controls five DSP units to bump up audio from normal to louder mode when visitor traffic builds in the galleries. All phase two source hardware is housed within an EER closet. Administrative computers are connected to enable remote access, updates and control.

The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation raised the funds for and oversaw the project and engaged ESI Design as the exhibition designer, with Michael Schneider as technical lead.