PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENT: Kodak Experience Center Comes Into Focus

April 25, 2017

Eastman Kodak Company, a worldwide leader in imaging technology, has selected JRA to plan, design and implement a 9,000-square-foot Experience Center. The Center will be housed in Building 28 of the company’s Eastman Business Park in Rochester, New York and is scheduled to open in late Spring 2018.

While offering a nod to Kodak’s past, the Experience Center will celebrate the company’s current innovations in imaging, printing, software, consumer products and intellectual property solutions. Developing the Kodak Experience Center is a component of the company’s 10-year master plan to re-invigorate Eastman Business Park, which will also include a revitalized performing arts theater, housing, and retail shops. Kodak aims to deepen its ties with the community through the Experience Center and its associated programming.

The Center will feature the following:

  • Lobby – The lobby will incorporate a welcome desk, where guests might try out new products. Displays will emphasize Kodak’s heritage of innovation. The design will blend the building’s existing materials, such as marble, terrazzo, and light fixtures, with a contemporary new look.
  • Exhibits – An exhibit area will highlight Kodak’s many innovations in photography, film, printing, digital imaging, and chemistry. Visitors will also discover the many ways Kodak has been an important part of the community fabric of Rochester.
  • Café – A coffee shop and seating area will enable guests to linger before or after their visit. Displays will showcase new products alongside heritage artifacts.
  • Retail – Film and branded merchandise will be offered alongside new products, such as the KODAK EKTRA Smartphone and the new KODAK Super 8 camera. Heritage displays will share shelf space with new products.

Randy Smith, Senior Project Director of JRA says, “We have been working very closely with Kodak to create a space where guests can re-discover the impact that Kodak has had in their lives. They have always supported creativity with their products and processes and this will be a great place to celebrate that.”

“We have a fascinating story to share,” stated Dolores Kruchten, President of Eastman Business Park. “The JRA team is the ideal partner to help us create a venue where visitors can learn about the company’s rich history and experience Kodak today.”

Tags: Project Spotlight

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Conference World Tour 2017: Chloe Gets Inspired at the IAAPA Leadership Conference

April 17, 2017

Once again, we hand over the Conference World Tour blogging reigns to Chloe Hausfeld, Director of Marketing and Business Development. This time, she's reporting from the IAAPA Leadership Conference in sunny California.

It’s been a little over a month since the infamous IAAPA Leadership Conference, and they certainly did not disappoint. Keith James (Dad) and I made the trip out to Anaheim and Hollywood, California for several days to experience what the conference had to offer. “BE INSPIRED” was the tag line this year…from the 6 attraction sites we visited, to the presentations made by the speakers, not to mention the receptions they held, IAAPA certainly left us inspired.

Tuesday, March 7

We got to California early for prior commitments on Monday and Tuesday, but were ready to head to Anaheim before (too much) traffic hit. We got settled into Great Wolf Lodge, in time to catch our local Northern Kentucky University clinch their first spot in the NCAA Tournament with a win against the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.

That evening, we headed to Ballast Point Brewery for dinner and drinks with a large group of industry people. The atmosphere was great, and the company was even better. It was the perfect way to get the week started.

Wednesday, March 8

IAAPA had buses ready first thing in the morning to transport the “Great Wolf Lodge Group” over to The Grand Californian to begin the day. Conference attendees checked in at registration, grabbed our much-needed coffee, and were ready to get the presentations started.

Paul Noland and Greg Hale welcome the attendees to what was going to be a fabulous week, and always make sure to recognize that the events wouldn’t be possible without the IAAPA sponsors.

The Keynote Speaker of the event was Bob Weis, President of Walt Disney Imagineering. Mr. Weis walked the attendees through how the Imagineering team created the vision for Shanghai Disney Resort. In order to develop such an extraordinary product, they had to deliver experiences to the guests that are “Authentically Disney…Distinctly Chinese.” Learning about the process that they went through to enhance the guests’ emotional connection in this specific region was very enlightening.

Enjoying a relaxing break with friends between morning sessions. Lots of smiles between Jim Pattison, Jr. (Ripley Enterainment) and myself; not to mention, KJ being surrounded by some of my favorite ladies, Lauren Weaver (SALLY) and Erika Kulbach (Electrosonic).

The sessions continued with a presentation from Mike Konzen, Principal and Chair, PGAV Destinations. Mr. Konzen spoke primarily about PGAV’s company structure, and as well as their work approach. One of his slides read, “You can never have too many leaders…But you need to recognize that there are an infinite number of ways to lead.” It is imperative for our industry members to work together in order to achieve the best guest experiences we can within each and every attraction.

Jane Cooper, President and COO, Herschend Family Entertainment, followed Mr. Konzen. Ms. Cooper is Chairman of the Board of the IAAPA Foundation, and was addressing the crowd regarding their mission: “inspiring life-changing careers in the global attractions industry by cultivating tomorrow’s leaders.” The IAAPA Leadership Conference offers great opportunities that help to evoke innovation and success now, and in the future.

The first tour location of the conference was Disney California Adventure Park. For such a busy time of year for attractions in the states, IAAPA doesn’t miss a beat when it comes to our group. We had guided tours throughout the park, and enjoyed rides throughout the remainder of the day. The night was capped with The World of Color, one of my favorite evening spectaculars in the industry.

Top Left: Paul Chutter (WhiteWater West), Emily Colombo (WhiteWater West) and I getting photo bombed by the infamous Lauren Weaver (SALLY) while touring the park.
Top Right: Lo and I posing with THE Ryan Strowger (IAAPA)
Bottom Left: Gina Guglielmi (Intermark Ride Group) and I found a cozy bench to take a load off during all the fun.

Networking with friends is one of the best parts of every IAAPA event. I found a pretty great group to finish my evening with…

Erika Kulbach (Electrosonic), Philip Wilson (Extreme Engineering), Lauren Weaver (SALLY), Ryan Strowger (IAAPA), Jim Glover (WhiteWater West)

Thursday, March 9

Day 2 of the Conference was packed to the rim. We began the day busing our way to Knott’s Berry Farm. After our “welcome”, we were grouped again for behind-the-scenes tours throughout the park. From coasters to Mrs. Knott’s fried chicken, there’s always something to enjoy at America’s 1st Theme Park.

Top Right: If I’m going to ride and interactive dark ride, I’m gunna do it with the pros. I took on The Voyage to the Iron Reef with John, Sherry, and Lauren Wood (Weaver) from SALLY, and lost miserably.
Bottom Left: Emily Colombo (WhiteWater West) made sure that I didn’t get wet on the Timber Mountain Log Ride.
Bottom Right: Members of the IAAPA group enjoying the Calico Mine Train.

The next stop for Day 2 was the Aquarium of the Pacific. Nestled on Rainbow Harbor in Long Beach, the setting outside of the aquarium was enough to make your jaw drop. After a great presentation, we had lunch on the terrace, and then made our way through guided tours. I even found Nemo and Dory ☺


The last tour of the day was held aboard The Queen Mary. We could see the ocean liner from the aquarium, and I couldn’t wait to get across the water. What an amazing setting. It is apparent how proud their employees are to be there, and it made the experience that much better.

Bottom Left: Posing with a great view.
Bottom Right: Erika Kulbach (Electrosonic) and playing the Brit.

After a wonderful evening reception on board The Queen Mary, a large group of us headed to Yard House for a memorable dinner. A lot of laughs were had, and a major shout out, and thank you, to Philip Wilson (Extreme Engineering) on the planning side.

Friday, March 10

The third and final day of the conference began at Great Wolf Lodge. It was nice to not have to be bussed to begin the day, as we were staying there. With an eventful presentation, and an interactive educational session on “the howl” under our belt, we toured the adorably family friendly environment.

WHAT A WOLF PACK!!! Lauren Weaver (SALLY), Sara Ingram (Premier Rides), Erika Kulbach, me, and Mika Nur Faezah (JN Entertainment & Leisure Consultancy)

You show me a dog (ok, wolf)…I’m gonna hug it.

The last stop of the conference was Universal Studios Hollywood. The park speaks for itself, but as a bit of a Harry Potter fanatic, I am always ecstatic to make my way there. They literally rolled out the red carpet for our arrival, and had some of my best friends as the welcoming committee. We enjoyed a presentation from Scot Burklin (Sr. Director, Operations), Glen Connally (SVP, Technical Services), and Sheldon Duncan (VP, Marketing Strategy & Insights) over lunch, and then made our way through the park. Everyone decided it was time to take me to my happy place after the Walking Dead walk through, so we headed to The Hog’s Head in Hogsmeade.


Our Universal trip ended with the ever-enlightening Backlot Studio Tour.

Some of my favorite people in the world, all on the same tram…heart = full

As I said, networking with friends old, and new is one of the best aspects of every IAAPA event. To that end, several of us decided that we were not finished with one another, so we opted for a post tour.

Our “send off crew”… Gina Guglielmi (Intermark Ride Group), Sara Ingram and Jim Seay (Premier Rides)

#TheVegas had to put up with the #IAAPAbadkids for the weekend, and it was a weekend for the books. From the party bus leaving from The Grand Californian, to our last pose atop of Mandalay Bay, this was a weekend for the record books. I thank IAAPA for bringing these people into my life.

#IAAPAbadkids crew
Jeroen Nijpels and Mika Nur Faezah (JNE&LC), Lauren Weaver (SALLY), Erika Kulbach (Electrosonic), Bret Woodbury (Life Formations), Philip and Maegan Wilson (Extreme Engineering), and Warren Kong (Lightswitch)

Cheers to the next one!


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Meet the Team: Association of Children's Museums InterActivity Conference Edition

April 10, 2017

The theme of this year's Association of Children's Museums InterActivity Conference is "Fun is Serious Business", and we couldn't agree more! That's why we're making sure two of our most fun-loving staff members - Vice President, Shawn McCoy, and Senior Project Director, Mike Meyer - are in Pasadena to greet you at Booth #53 May 3rd and 4th. Designing children's museums inspires the child in all of us at JRA, so we asked Shawn and Mike to share some of their favorite museum-going memories, along with some other fun facts.

Meet Mike!

Years at JRA? 21 

Hometown? Cincinnati

Age That You First Went to A Museum? 6

Favorite Childhood Road Trip Experience? Fishing and camping with my dad. He fished, and I drew.

Favorite Museum Experience as a Designer? Crayola Experience

The Part of My Career I Enjoy the Most Is... I create giant toys (exhibits) children use to learn and play!

In My Spare Time, I... Paint! 

My Favorite People Are... My parents, because they taught and made me to be the person I am today.

Favorite Cartoon Character? Underdog 

Meet Shawn!


Years at JRA? 23

Hometown? Wilmington, Ohio (population 12,459)

Age That You First Went to A Museum? 8, visiting the Clinton County Historical Museum with my first-grade class. I remember being so interested in seeing all of the historical artifacts and being fascinated by the history of my hometown. I get the same feeling to this day when I visit museums.

Rombach House - Clinton County Historical Society

Favorite Childhood Attraction? The woods behind my family's farm, spending all day exploring with my dog by my side.

Favorite Museum Experience (As a Visitor)? The City Museum in St. Louis. Bold, colorful, artistic, visionary.

Best Thing About the Industry...that our job is about providing people with smiles and memories that will last a lifetime.

The Part of My Career I Enjoy the Most Is...the people I work with, the people I get to meet, the places I get to go and all of the museums, attractions, and theme parks I get to see. 

Do You Collect Anything? If So, What? Hotel keycards. I've got a glass vase that's filled with them. 

Favorite Cartoon Character? Scooby Doo. In enjoyed watching him when I was a kid, and now I get to watch him and the Mystery Incorporated gang all over again with my kids. 

As we mentioned in yesterday's "Museum Milestones" post, we love saluting the superheroes of children's museums - their staff, visitors, donors, friends, and fans. What super power would Shawn and Mike like to have? Ask them at the InterActivity Museum Marketplace Reception (May 3rd from 5:30-7:30), and receive a special accessory perfectly befitting this year's theme...

Tags: JRA Team

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When Fun is Serious Business: Celebrating Small Museums at Interactivity 2017

April 07, 2017

From May 2-5, thousands of children's museum professionals will gather in Pasadena, California for the Association of Children's Museums 2017 Interactivity Conference. This year's theme is "Fun is Serious Business", and we couldn't agree more! That's why we're honored to sponsor the Interactivity 2017 Small Museums Financial Aid Program for the ninth year in a row.

The Small Museums scholarship, founded by JRA in 2008, provides select small museum professionals with complimentary registration to Interactivity and a ticket to the Evening Event, which will be held this year at Kidspace Children's Museum. The goal of the initiative is to offset professional development expenses for museum staff at open children's museums with annual budgets under $500,000. By doing so, ACM wishes to cultivate staff members at small museums for long-term careers in the children's museum field. 

This year's recipients represent children's museums from diverse sections of the country - what unites them is a love of children, a passion for learning, and a profound understanding of the power of play. Let's meet them!

Julie D’Amours, Education Director
Jackson Hole Children’s Museum (Jackson, WY)

The Jackson Hole Children's Museum (JHCM) is a small museum that operates in a small space with very limited staff, yet is an integral part of the Jackson community. JHCM serves countless local and visiting families in addition to offering extensive community outreach programs, in-school and afterschool programs, and summer programming. In addition to extensive community partnerships, JHCM collaborates with other children's museums in the region to share ideas and offer exhibit exchanges.

As the Education Director, Julie develops and implements the vision for JHCM’s educational programs and exhibits. The museum’s rural location makes it hard to share experiences easily with other professionals in the children’s museum field. Attending InterActivity will be invaluable for Julie to collaborate with staff from other small museums and share successes in the educational programming and opportunities that small museums can provide. She hopes to build a network of support within the small museum community so they can draw upon each other's interests and expertise when developing exhibits and programs.

Sarah Hanks, Executive Director
Children’s Museum of Blacksburg (Blacksburg, VA)

The Children’s Museum of Blacksburg (CMB) is a new museum previously managed by volunteers and part-time staff who believe deeply in the benefits of hands-on play, creative and innovative environments, and caregiver engagement in discovery. Their efforts have resulted in the cultivation of a rich community gathering space and resource for children, families, and educators that is positioned to grow and meet the evolving needs of the growing Blacksburg community.

In January, Sarah began work as CMB’s executive director. She looks forward to developing a network of colleagues at InterActivity who may offer advice, insights, and support during this year of transition for CMB. Additionally, she looks forward to gaining insights into the resources, vendors, and partners that may enhance CMB’s journey to become a premier learning and play destination in Southwest Virginia.

Ashley Markiewicz, Education Coordinator
expERIEnce Children’s Museum (Erie, PA)

The expERIEnce Children’s Museum engages more than 50,000 guests annually in meaningful educational experiences that inspire creativity, imagination, and exploration. Holding Erie’s Choice award for best museum since 2013, the ECM holds free admission days throughout the year in addition to hosting designated sensory friendly mornings for children on the autism spectrum. The Discovery Center is one of fourteen nationally certified outdoor classrooms in the state of Pennsylvania, providing a unique natural learning experience for each of our visitors. Each year, more than 2000 children from Erie’s Public Schools visit the museum. The ECM work tirelessly to provide one-of-a-kind experiences to a diverse demographic through classes, workshops, camps, value-added programming, and outreach.

As education coordinator, Ashley oversees all aspects of education within the museum brand. She is passionate about non-traditional education and is thrilled to network with and learn from fellow educators from museums across the country, and then share new techniques with the education team at home and eventually incorporate them into ECM’s curriculum.

Carol McManus, Executive Director
Children’s Museum of Acadiana (Lafayette, LA)

The Children's Museum of Acadiana (CMA) is a hands-on participatory museum serving children and their families, schools, and community organizations by providing interactive exhibits, special services, performances, and workshops. The museum has extensive community outreach programs, including specialized programs for Cub and Girl Scouts to complete badge and belt loop requirements. The museum's employees and volunteers work with many organizations in our community to provide an interactive "offsite" environment at the area's many festivals and other nonprofit fundraisers.

As executive director, Carol is responsible for all aspects of the CMA’s operations, including fundraising, staff supervision, programming, financial management, marketing, and community relations. She looks forward to discovering new approaches that may improve and expand CMA’s programming and support marketing the educational value of the museum while networking with and learning from experienced practitioners.


Leon Philpot, Director of Operations
Louisiana Children's Discovery Center (Hammond, LA)

The Louisiana Children's Discovery Center (LCDC) is is the only open and operating Children's Museum in the Northshore, Louisiana area. Since its opening, we have served over 155,000 children and their families. LCDC is more than just a conventional children's museum. It is a premier center that offers over 30 different engaging interactive hands-on exhibits and programs, making it an excellent educational resource for the entire community. Moreover, it is a great place where toddlers, children and teenagers can learn at their own pace while having fun and playing interactively with their peers.

“This is an exciting time for the Louisiana Children's Discovery Center as we embark on a new journey to replace our aging exhibits and hopefully a new facility that will house these new exhibits. Our time at InterActivity 2017 will help me make those connections with potential vendors and developers that will be able to guide us in the process.”


Abby Schwent, Education Director
Edwardsville Children’s Museum (Edwardsville, IL)

Edwardsville Children’s Museum stimulates curiosity and cultivates learning through interactive exhibits and experiential programming designed to help families connect and expose children to joyful learning. ECM’s current effort is the constructing the Discovery Garden, a nature classroom, and developing programs to help children learn about and experience the benefits of nature. Organizationally, ECM is at a critical juncture of community interest and support coupled with a desire to elevate exhibits and programming “to the next level,” but the current facility is small and space is prohibitive.

As education director, Abby develops all programming, supervises and trains the education department’s staff, meets with local school administration, writes grants, develops budgets, and helps market programs. As the education director at a small but growing children's museum, Abby hopes to gain insight into how large, established museums handle educational program structures, exhibit expansion, and successful fundraising and development.

Congratulations to all of the recipients, and we'll see you in Pasadena!

Tags: JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio

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PROJECT ANNOUNCEMENT - King Abdullah: Values and Wisdom Now Touring

April 06, 2017

 “King Abdullah: Values and Wisdom," the Introductory Convoy of the 2018 King Abdullah Exhibition, recently debuted at the 31st Al Janadriyah National Festival for Heritage and Culture in Saudi Arabia.

The collected artifacts, photographs and videos featured in the traveling exhibit are part of an intensive effort aimed at preserving King Abdullah’s legacy and promoting his values and wisdom, both locally and globally. The exhibit provides a glimpse of the preparations underway by the King Abdullah Foundation for a major exhibition in 2018. Following Janadriyah, the convoy will travel to 19 other cities throughout the Kingdom.

The experience begins with a three-dimensional map of where the convoy will be journeying throughout Saudi Arabia. Once inside the traveling exhibit trailer, guests can “Walk with the King,” viewing and digitally interacting with over 500 photographs of the late ruler. Visitors can then peruse a variety of King Abdullah’s personal effects, including garments, furniture and artwork. The exhibit concludes with “Stories of the King”, where guests can leave a video message about what this groundbreaking leader meant to them. The 50-square-meter exhibit has welcomed over 5,000 people per day since its opening.

“King Abdullah: Values and Wisdom” is an initiative of the King Abdullah Foundation, which seeks to sustain King Abdullah’s vision for a better world based on the virtues he espoused of justice, virtue, peace, and humanity. The History Factory, JRA, and The Brand Experience worked together to conceptualize, design and produce the King Abdullah Introductory Convoy for the Foundation.

“…Seek with tireless determination to acquire knowledge and learning; you are, after all, the builders of the future era, a future that will not accept anything less than to be in the forefront for the sake of our country that is generous to us and which expects from us the fruits of what it has given to us to make our country rise among nations.”
- King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud


All photos above courtesy The Brand Experience. For additional images, please visit @KingAbdullahVW on Instagram

Tags: Project Spotlight

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