The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, Arizona exists to enrich the world community by collecting, preserving, and making accessible high-quality musical instruments, images, and music from every country in the world. MIM strives to offer guests an incomparable interactive experience through a welcoming environment, dynamic programming, and exceptional musical performances.
Founder Robert Ulrich brought on Mark McCauley to head the technology department of the new museum. McCauley knew the integration of audio and video was a crucial aspect of creating MIM.
“From the start, we knew we needed relevant content because video was critical to our development and without suitable content, there would be no point in installing digital displays,” said McCauley, founding director of Technology at MIM. “The most challenging aspect of creating MIM was the simultaneous planning, design, collecting, and building of the facility. We were truly looking for a technology partner that could help us deliver an effective solution.”
McCauley had to deliver that solution to 300 exhibits broken down into ten galleries. It would require a variety of screen sizes, full HD resolution, and sustainability for years to come. Commercial-grade quality was also desired due to the 10-14-hour days the museum operates on 363 days of the year, not to mention any after-hours events that may occur. McCauley also stressed the importance of a three-year warranty with 24-hour exchange in the event a monitor went down. With video an integral aspect of the visitor experience, McCauley also wanted to have extra displays on hand so that a problem could be fixed within minutes if necessary.
Displays were also needed outside of the exhibits in the boardroom, multi-purpose room, orientation gallery, theater, welcome wall, and ticketing area.
MIM chose to go with NEC Display Solutions after assessing the company’s value and its ability to meet the museum’s stringent requirements. Availability was also critical in the decision-making due to the fact that the building had to be ready in time for the grand opening.
A number of displays are used in the museum, including:
- 23” MultiSync EA231WMi
- 32” MultiSync LCD3215 and V321
- 40” LCD4020, P401 and P402
- 46” P461
- 52” LCD5220
- 65” LCD6520
- 70” P701
In the lobby, three 52-inch NEC LCD 5220 displays are used, and another three are used behind the ticketing counter to display admission prices, upcoming performances, and guest policies. Additional screens in the alcoves display messaging and promotional content.
The multi-purpose room features two, 65-inch MultiSync LCD6520 displays in landscape and portrait orientations to accommodate a variety of users. In addition, outside the conservation lab, 52-inch NEC LCD 5220 and 23-inch MultiSync EA231WMi screens are displayed.
After opening, McCauley found that the least-visited areas were those with just audio and not video content. He remedied this problem by installing additional displays in these areas during Phase 2 of MIM’s construction. “Coordinating video with the audio segments give the museum an extra dimension,” said McCauley. “By providing both audio and visual content, MIM has fulfilled its mission of bringing the world’s music to life.”
MIM also upgraded its 65-inch displays to NEC’s 70-inch P701 screens. Ethernet for remote monitoring and 15 percent increased screen surface with the same low level of power consumption were attributes that lead to the switch.
In total, 423 NEC displays were used throughout the space. “We knew we made the right choice with NEC when almost two years into their use, not one display has failed,” said McCauley. “Instead, those extra swap units we purchased are occupying a storage closet, which is a good problem to have.”
Due to the success of the digital signage, MIM is considering adding displays to the monetary donor wall, dining area, and bookstore. It is also looking at supplementing its facility with kiosks to supply a solution that caters to today’s age of self-service and efficiency.
All photos courtesy of NEC Display Solutions.