Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate

AV Technology Helps Visitors Explore the U.S. Senate
Boston, MA

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The Edward M. Kennedy Institute (EMK Institute) for the United States Senate is a non-profit educational institution on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Boston. It is named for Senator Ted Kennedy and dedicated to educating the public, students and teachers about the role and the importance of the U.S. Senate.

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The building features three long hallways whose east, north and west walls have displays and exhibits. On the outer side of these walls are six classrooms for further interaction with the exhibits, and in the center space is a unique Senate Immersion Module in a full-scale model of the U.S. Senate chamber.

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Electrosonic provided 750 Google Nexus tablets, with interactive software by Control Group, as the handheld interface visitors receive upon arrival. The devices allow visitors to choose a political party affiliation, vote, take pictures and assume the role of senator in the U.S. Senate chamber.

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After receiving their tablets, guests watch a short film in the Orientation Theater where three projectors display edge-blended content on a curved screen. The Quote Wall sports the first videowall on site, and is comprised of five 55-inch video monitors. Dynamic content depicting current events and issues in the U.S. Senate comprise the exhibits in the surrounding hallways. The east and west walls of the hallways also feature eight-projector blends addressing “What is the Senate?” and “What You Can Do,” respectively. The north wall has a nine-projector blend exploring “How a Bill Becomes a Law.”

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A recreation of Senator Kennedy’s office features two touchscreen kiosks. Three classrooms, each of them dividable into two spaces, are each equipped with a pair of ceiling-mounted projectors, camera and touch panel to interact with the main show control system. Electrosonic spent considerable time ensuring the classrooms can act as portals for customizing imagery displayed on the east, north and west walls when the space is used for special events.

The Senate chamber boasts three videowalls comprised of 60-inch video monitors. A 4x3 videowall forms a backdrop along the north wall; two 1x3 walls flank that configuration on the east and west walls. There is a full sound system, and a complement of cameras enables simulations to be broadcast to the classrooms, while an extensive video matrix system allows any source to be switched to any room.

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A central equipment room is located upstairs in the southeast corner of the building. Electrosonic holds a post-opening maintenance and support contract for the EMK Institute.

Electrosonic was selected by general contractor Lee Kennedy Co. to provide audio-visual engineering, integration and programming. The company worked closely with innovation and experience design firm ESI Design, including Michael Schneider as technology consultant, and content creators Richard Lewis Media Group to craft the linear media components.

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Exterior photo by Bruce T. Martin Photography