Vulcan goes high-tech with interactive displays

Vulcan Park and Museum will soon have interactive, multi-touch displays that allow visitors to virtually explore the Birmingham area.


Designed by Ideum, a Corrales, N.M., company that specializes in electronic museum exhibits, the 31-inch-tall table and two kiosk displays have durable, high-resolution screens. The table is made of thick, tempered glass and aircraft-grade aluminum, and meets Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Visitors may use hand gestures to manipulate images or interact with computer programs. The display can accommodate several users at the same time.

Part of display opening at Vulcan Park and Museum on Saturday, March 7, is an image showing the iron statue’s upper legs being reinstalled during the four-year renovation process.

Vulcan is one of two in the nation to use the new technology, the other being the Don Harrington Discovery center in Amarillo, Texas. Ideum has previously installed interactive exhibits at Sudekum Planetarium in Nashville, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. The displays will be open to the public Saturday through February 2010, and are included with regular admission.

Also opening on Saturday in the Linn-Henley Gallery is "Restoration of Vulcan: A Collision of Art and Science," a display that documents the iron statue’s renovation from its removal in 1999 to its return in 2003. It will include information on why Vulcan deteriorated and methods that were used to restore it. Interactive exhibits include a miniatured Vulcan armature and flash-animated Vulcan game.

Next Sunday at 2 p.m., J. Scott Howell of Robinson Iron in Alexander City will talk about the restoration in "Giuseppe Moretti’s Vulcan: Bringing Back the Magic," part of the Vulcan Gallery Talks series.

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