Museums - What's Trending Now

November 26, 2012

The 2012 IAAPA Expo kicked off with Museum and Science Center Day. Here’s a look at what’s trending in the world’s cultural institutions.

According to Ford Bell, President of the American Alliance of Museums, the picture looks bright for most American museums. Although 41% of museums are free, individuals still donate $1 million to museums weekly. Two-thirds of museums have seen an increase in attendance post economic downturn, and Bell sees 2012 as a year of respite and renewal for the industry. Few museums have closed in the last four years, and it is Bell’s hope that the forecast will only improve from here.

So what are museums investing in these days? According to Julie Moskalyk of Science Center North, museums are incorporating an increased level of theming into their exhibits, as evidenced in attractions such as the Maritime Experiential Museum’s fully-immersive 4D theatre.

Photo: www.electrosonic.co.uk

Julie is also seeing an expansion of social and mobile tools as a way for museums to communicate their marketing and educational messages. What started as a simple Twitter stream about the Space Shuttle Endeavor’s journey to California turned into an epic, three-day tweeting adventure, with hashtags and ‘at’ symbols flying. As of March 2012, 181 mobile applications were associated with cultural institutions, putting the museum message in the palm of the prospective (or repeating) visitor’s hand.

While technology has expanded, museums have not forgotten their core goal of educating. More and more, they are incorporating not just the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) goals required by most state standards, but they are also picking up STEAM (STEM + art). The JRA-designed Mind Museum in Taguig, Philippines was cited as example, as the new museum offers a variety of exhibits that challenge children to approach scientific problems in creative ways, and to create art through science. Countless educational studies have shown that children who use both sides of their brain in this way fare better academically than those who do not receive instruction in the arts as part of their education.

After discussing the STEAM principle, Julie handed the mic over to Thinkwell’s Cynthia Sharpe, who discussed how the definitions of a typical “museum” and “museum goer” are gradually being broadened. The most conspicuous example of this phenomenon is The Making of Harry Potter, a 50,000-square-foot studio 40 minutes from London that houses the sets, props and costumes of the iconic film franchise. Part museum, part attraction, The Making of Harry Potter is a one-of-a-kind experience that not only entertains, but answers the question “what goes into a the making of a film” by displaying a series of film “artifacts.” By combining film sizzle with typical museum exhibtry, The Making of Harry Potter connects with a variety of audiences.

For zoos and aquariums, creating “only here” experiences is also high on the agenda. According to Michael Mercandente of Main Street Design, sixty percent of Association of Zoo and Aquariums (AZA) members now have rides as part of their facility. In addition, zip lines have become increasingly popular, with some parks even crafting complete zip line safari experiences. Water play and water park areas are becoming increasingly prevalent and can help provide additional revenue in the hot summer months. And facilities are staying open later, responding to customer demand. These innovations have led some American zoos and aquariums to see a 20 percent increase in attendance over last year.

So, where do cultural institutions go from here? How do they capitalize on their success and get noticed?

Don Skeoch, Chief Marketing Officer of LA, Inc., has the answer: get to know your Convention and Visitors Bureau (or Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) as they are increasingly known). Skeoch offered six tips on how cultural organizations can best leverage their relationship with their DMO:

  1. Ask for your DMO’s 3-year calendar, and then make sure you are in it.
  2. Partner with your DMO for hotel packaging. Convention delegates and other visitors are looking for things to do.
  3. Co-operate with other institutions. Often times, a group of organizations can have more impact and even create a single cultural or entertainment brand. For example, during “Museums LA,” visitors who booked two nights or more on www.discoverLosAngeles.com/cultureLA between October 1-November 11, 2012 received two free admissions and museum store discounts at 30 participating museums.
  4. If you are an anchor institution, take the lead. Again, creating a movement has more impact than the “big dog” acting alone.
  5. Ensure that you are doing the easy stuff (e.g., participating in social media) It’s simple. It’s free. It’s the absolute minimum to get noticed.
  6. Be patient! It’s frustrating, but the rewards can be great.

Hopefully, if museums, science centers, zoos and aquaria continue to innovate and collaborate, the growth numbers (both in revenue and attendance) will continue to rise.

Next week, we’ll shift our trend analysis to the world of theme parks, entertainment attractions, and one-of-a-kind “happenings."

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Hi, Betty, and thanks for commenting! Be sure to check out Monday's post on what museums can learn from the latest theme park trends.
Clara 10:45AM 11/30/12
Excellent synopsis. It's great to see our industry change with the demand of its audiences. It's broadening what it offers to expand the demographics it hits.
Betty 4:30PM 11/29/12

Five from the Floor: Owen Ralph of Park World

November 19, 2012

Owen Ralph (left) and Paul Ryder of Park World

Owen Ralph (left) and Paul Ryder of Park World


Congratulations to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) on a successful Expo 2012! The Expo welcomed over 1,000 exhibitors and over 25,000 attendees to the five-day conference and offered educational seminars and fun nighttime networking opportunities.

As we mentioned last week, JRA’s roving reporter asked a couple of courageous individuals five questions from the show floor. This time, we literally turned the camera on the media and interviewed Owen Ralph, Editor of Park World Magazine. Here’s what he had to say:

1. JRA: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing the industry?
OR: Ensuring that the “attraction” in guests’ pockets (the mobile phone) never becomes more compelling than the attraction itself.

2. JRA: What is the best advice you ever received?
OR: Life is short. Eat dessert first.

3. JRA: What did you want to be when you grew up?
OR: A bin man (trash collector) or radio DJ. I’m almost there – I work in the media and trash a lot of press releases.

4. JRA: If you could have any super power, what would it be?
OR: Flight – so long as it came with GPS.

5. JRA: If you could be anyone for a day, who would you be?
OR: Toots Hibbert, or anyone with more musical ability and rhythm than myself.

BONUS QUESTION:
JRA: What are your impressions of what you’ve seen on the show floor?
OR: The good stuff – lots of new dark ride concepts and waterpark construction.
The bad stuff – generic zip lines and interactive theatre rip-offs.
The encouraging stuff – good to see IAAPA cooperating with ride manufacturers against infringement of intellectual property.

Thank you, Owen! We promise to let you ask the questions from now on. ☺

And for the rest of our readers, join us Wednesday, as we report on what’s new and trending in the museum, science center, zoo and aquarium industry.
 

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The JRA Time Machine: 2012 - The Future is Now

November 16, 2012

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The Mind Museum - Taguig, Philippines

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And so we come to 2012. We hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the past 25 years of JRA, and we look forward to seeing what the next 25 will bring. But until then:

  • • JRA enjoys three project openings in 2012, two of them museums. In February, the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples (C’MON) opens to the public. The mission of Southwest Florida’s newest family destination is “to provide an inspiring environment where children and their families play, learn and dream together.” All of the JRA-design and produced exhibits are accessible for individuals with developmental, hearing, physical, social/emotional and physical challenges.
  • The Mind Museum, the Philippines’ first world-class science museum, opens in Taguig. Part of Bonifacio Global City, The Mind Museum hosts over 250 interactive “minds-on” and “hands-on” exhibits in five gallery spaces, all of which offer compelling stories related to science and technology.
  • • Also opening in 2012 is the new Jim Beam American Stillhouse and Distillery Tour. The attraction provides guests with an authentic tour and tasting experience, bringing them close to the iconic, 218-year-old brand.
  • • CEO Keith James assumes a new role – grandpa! His daughter, Alexis (Lexi) McDonald, gives birth to son Emmett Keithan McDonald in August.
  • • A month later, James speaks at the Storytelling, Architecture, Technology and Experience (SATE) conference, whose theme was “Cultural Diversity in Creating Successful Guest Experiences: Obstacle or Opportunity?” His advice? “Listen first, especially if you are an American.”
  • • JRA celebrates its silver anniversary with a blog series highlighting the magic moments of its 25 years. And now we’ve come full circle!

While we hope the most momentous occasion of 2012 doesn’t occur (the end of the world, as predicted by the Aztecs), other milestones were made around the world this year:

  • • The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II commemorates her 60 years on the throne. Later that year, the Summer Olympics are held in London.
  • • After 244 years since its first publication, the Encyclopedia Britannia ceases its print edition.
  • • A pastel version of Edvard Munch’s The Scream sells for $120 million at a New York City auction, shattering all records for an auctioned work.
  • • Tokyo Skytree, the tallest self-supporting tower in the world at 634 meters high, opens to the public.
  • • Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner becomes the first person to break the sound barrier without any machine assistance during a space dive out of the Red Bull Stratos helium-filled balloon from 24 miles over Roswell, New Mexico.
  • • Barack Obama is re-elected as President of the United States.

Thank you for coming aboard the JRA time machine for the last 25 days. What can we expect for 2013? As our CEO Keith James so aptly noted recently:

As JRA embarks on our next twenty-five years, it will be the lessons learned from our past that will determine our future, for ultimately it will be our firm’s commitment to our people, our clients and our audience that will drive our success.

Twenty-five years ago this month, my good friend and mentor Jack Rouse started JRA with this philosophy as its foundation, and it is with these principles in mind that we begin the next leg of this wonderful journey.
 

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The JRA Time Machine: 2011 - An Honor-able Year

November 15, 2012

In 2011, CEO Keith James received one of the industry’s highest honors, and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi continued to receive international accolades. In other news, jackrouse.com gets a new look, and the JRA team gets some new faces.

  • • Keith James receives IAAPA’s Outstanding Service Award. In receiving the award, Keith said he was “very thankful for all of the clients who have entrusted JRA over the years with their hopes, dreams and projects…one could say that the award is in recognition for what I’ve given to the industry over these many years,” he added. “However, I will always look at it as a symbol of the many wonderful things that the industry has given to me."
  • • JRA also receives a myriad of awards for Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, including the Gold Winner for Best Permanent Installation from Event Design, as well as two German prizes for the film attraction “Coppa di Sicilia”: the Deutscher Werbefilpreis (German Commercials Award) for Best Art Direction and the Deutscher Wirtschaftfilmpreis (German Award for Corporate Films)
  • • JRA begins work on theme parks in Russia and Turkey. Both parks plan to open within the next five years.
  • • To better communicate with its customers and showcase the studios people and project, JRA unveils its updated website.
  • • Five new employees join the JRA team: Chloe James, Brent Ellis, Kelly Ellis, Eric Lee and Jeff Smith.

A royal wedding, a final bow for the space shuttle, and a silent film make waves in 2011:

  • • Two billion people watch the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey in London (ironically, millions of Americans wake up at 5 a.m. to view the nuptials of the very royalty they fought for independence from over two centuries earlier).
  • • The first artificial organ transplant is achieved, using an artificial windpipe coated with stem cells.
  • • Space Shuttle Atlantis lands at Kennedy Space Center, concluding NASA’s space shuttle program.
  • • Samoa and Tokelau move from east to west of the International Date Line, effectively skipping December 30, to better align with their trading partners.
  • • The Artist, about a silent film actor struggling to stay relevant upon the advent of “talkies,” wins the Academy Award for Best Picture, making it the first production from a non-English speaking country to do so.

 

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It was really a good year for JRA team. The new faces brought some changes and made the success. I hope they will get same honor in 2013.
Samuel Jones 4:18AM 12/01/12

Five From the Floor: Shirley Saldamarco

November 15, 2012

Shirley Saldamarco

Shirley Saldamarco

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog series for an update from IAAPA Expo 2012.  We've had the opportunity to meet a lot of dreamers, designers and doers over the last several days, so we'd thought we'd take a moment to ask a few of them five questions from the show floor.  First up?  Shirley Saldamarco, Faculty Member at the Entertainment Technology Center of Carnegie Mellon University and Themed Entertainment Association Next Generation Committee Member.

JRA: What's the best thing about the industry?

SD: The creative ideas that are constantly surrounding you.

JRA: What is your favorite stress buster?

SD: Probably a mindless game, something I can do without even concentrating.

JRA: My outside interests show up in my work when...

SD: I'm teaching my students and telling them great stories.

JRA: Hidden talent?

SD: Baking!  Especially cookies, Italian cookies.

JRA: You help cultivate the next generation of industry leaders every day.  What is the biggest challenge facing the industry?

SD: Utilizing technology smartly, instead of just for technologies' sake.  And keeping things fun!

Thanks, Shirley!  We'll have more Five from the Floor reports over the next several days, and tune in next week for an IAAPA Wrap-Up that includes what's hip, hot, and trending in the museum and attractions industry.

 

 

 

 

 

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The JRA Time Machine: 2010 - Seeing Red

November 14, 2012

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Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

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2010 marked one of the most significant openings in JRA’s history – Ferrari World Abu Dhabi. As the first Ferrari-themed attraction and the largest indoor theme park in the world, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi pays tribute to the passion, excellence performance and technical innovation that Ferrari has established over the years and represents today. The park features over 20 state-of-the-art attractions, including the world’s fastest roller coaster, Formula Rossa.

  • • JRA celebrates the opening of Ferrari World with a daily reception at the IAAPA Expo. The following year, JRA will win its ninth IAAPA Best New Product Award for the Project.
  • • As part of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, JRA brings The Coca-Cola Company’s popular Happiness Factory characters to life through a themed brand pavilion. The story of the Happiness Factory – the magical, mystical world inside every Coke machine – has become the highest rated global advertisement in the company’s history, and the themed pavilion welcomed over 1 million guests during the Expo’s seven-month run.
  • Waiting time for the Coca-Cola Pavilion.  Yes, that's six hours!
  • • Closer to home, JRA opens its latest sports project, this time The Octagon retail store at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, home of the US Open.
  • • JRA gets social! JRA + blog is created to chronicle the people and projects of the company.
  • • After 12 years at JRA and over three decades in the industry, project manager extraordinaire Rick Steele retires. JRA leaves him with a book chronicling the many friends he made and the many projects he produced in his years in themed entertainment.

A volcanic eruption, an epic football (soccer) victory, and the opening of a “wizarding world” take center stage in 2010.

  • • Volcanic ash from one of several eruptions beneath Eyjafjallajokull, an Icelandic ice cap, disrupts air traffic in Europe.
  • • Five paintings, worth a total of €100 million, are stolen from the Musee d’Art Modern de la Ville in Paris.
  • • The 2010 FIFA World Cup, held in South Africa, is won by Spain, with Holland as runner-up.
  • • Thirty-three miners are rescued after surviving 69 days being trapped in a Chilean mine 700 meters underground.
  • • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ opens at Universal Studios’ Island of Adventure. Both pedestrian and vehicular traffic was backed up for miles at the attractions’ opening.

  •  

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The JRA Time Machine: 2009 - For The Love of Museums

November 13, 2012

Museums are the name of the game in 2009, with several new JRA-designed educational experiences opening in the United States and China. Meanwhile, Jack and Amy ride off into the sunset, but in true fashion, Jack offers some last words:


• Jack Rouse and Amy Merrell retire. Before he leaves, Jack speaks at the Event Design Summit, and his talk is so popular it is republished online and in Event Design magazine:
Yes, I am 100-percent certain that what is currently happening on Wall Street and on the global scene will fundamentally change the way we do business—perhaps forever. I think it has to, for it will certainly change the way our clients think and the way they do business. This isn’t all bad in the long-term perhaps. In some ways it will be a bit cathartic. I’ve lived through catharsis before, and painful though it may have been, looking back I can honestly say that I and “we” emerged better for it. We all live in a world of creativity and innovation. That spirit of creativity and innovation will be essential as we sustain ourselves and reinvent ourselves for the next cycle.
• JRA completes two museums in China. The first, Magic Bean House, located in Beijing, is a children’s museum themed upon Chinese legends and fairytales and offers a variety of cooperative play experiences. The hope is that Magic Bean will serve as an inspiration for the development of more children’s museums in China in the coming years.


• In Guangzhou, JRA completes the children’s portion of the 450,000-square-foot Guangdong Science Center, the largest science-technology center in the world. “Children’s World” takes children on an interactive exploration of their home, neighborhood, city and world.


• JRA also developed new exhibits for existing children’s museums and science centers in 2009, including designing the popular “PowerBall Hall” at San Antonio Children’s and the new “Life Science” gallery at the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology (MOST) in Syracuse, New York.


• In addition to museums, JRA also completed work on a sports attraction only two hours from its studios – the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Hall of Champions. The 30,000-square-foot facility offers one-of-a-kind memorabilia, exciting media experiences, vibrant graphics and a variety of interactive kiosks.

2009 also brought major milestones for the global economy, popular culture and science:
• NASA launches the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter probes to the Moon, the first American lunar mission since 1998. The orbiter finds a “significant” amount of water on the lunar surface.
• American pop music sensation Michael Jackson dies, leading to a multitude of tributes around the world. Online, reactions to the event cause several major websites and services to crash, as an avalanche of people accessing the web addresses pushes Internet traffic to historic levels. His public memorial is considered one of the most prominent funerals of all time.


• Bolivia becomes the first South American country to grant indigenous people the right to govern themselves.
• At the G-20 Pittsburgh Summit, world leaders announce that, instead of the G-8 the G-20 will assume greater responsibility over the world economy, in the hopes that this measure will prevent future economic crises.


• Paleontologists discover an Ardiptheus ramidus fossil skeleton, deeming it the oldest remains of a human ancestor yet found.

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The JRA Time Machine: 2008 - World's Greatest

November 12, 2012

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Ripley's Believe It or Not! - London, United Kingdom

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JRA received a very nice complement in 2008, when it was featured on the television program “World’s Greatest.”

But that wasn’t all that happened in the studio. 2008 was a year of change at JRA, as a new era of leadership and ownership began:

  • • Keith James acquires full ownership of Jack Rouse Associates from his fellow partners, company founders Jack Rouse and Amy Merrell.
  • • Following a short, “roast-like” video, Jack Rouse receives a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Themed Entertainment Association at their annual black-tie gala. Upon receiving the themed entertainment industry’s highest honor, Jack thanked the “millions of folks who aren’t here and who I never met. The audience around the globe who’ve smiled a little, learned a little, and, perhaps, have been touched a little by the experiences we…have been privileged to create.”
  •  
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not! opens in London, UK, complete with a Tower Bridge sculpture made of toothpicks, a crystal encrusted VW Mini, and a gallery of shrunken heads. Believe it – or not.
  • • Other design and planning projects include Planetario Alfa in Monterrey, Mexico, Restless Planet in Dubai, UAE and Go for Broke National Education Center in Los Angeles, USA.
  • • While a large portion of the staff emigrate to JRA’s Abu Dhabi office to work on the developing Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park, several new team members arrive at the Cincinnati studio including Colin Cronin, Teresa Johns, Dana Moore, Clara Rice and Linda Round.
  •  
  • Construction continues in Abu Dhabi...
  • ...but even in the desert, JRA doesn't forget the holidays!

Meanwhile, stars exploded, records were broken and a President-Elect made history:

  • • An exploding star halfway across the visible universe becomes the farthest known object ever visible to the naked eye.
  • • After three decades as Chairman of Microsoft, Bill Gates steps down from his daily duties to pursue his philanthropy.
  • • Beijing hosts the 2008 Olympics. Swimmer Michael Phelps wins 8 gold medals in a single Olympic games, surpassing Mark Spitz’s record.
  • • Barack Obama is elected as the first African-American President of the United States.
  • • Delta Air Lines merges with Northwest Airlines, forming the world’s largest commercial carrier.
  • • The RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 departs on her last voyage from Southampton, UK to Dubai, UAE, where she will become a floating hotel.
     

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The JRA Time Machine: 2007 - Coke Is It!

November 10, 2012

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The World of Coca-Cola - Atlanta, GA, USA

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In 2007, JRA opened an experience for one iconic brand and broke ground on a groundbreaking attraction for another, all while making Irish eyes smile with a new children’s museum.

A new look and a new Cincinnati location for JRA:

  • • JRA moves into current offices and unveils a new logo for its 20th Anniversary.
  • • 2007 marks the open of the new World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia. JRA worked with the Coca-Cola Company to provide complete design and production for this attraction, the only place where visitors can explore the complete story – past, present and future, of the world’s best-known brand.
  • • Also opening in 2007 is Imaginosity, Dublin’s first children’s museum and JRA’s first project in Ireland. The museum is dedicated to creating a meaningful, fun experience for children and adults to share while being reflective of the local culture.
  • • Ground is broken on Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the largest indoor theme park in the world. Stay tuned for Wednesday’s 2010 blog for more!
  • • Jason Hedges, despite his unconventional first impression (you’ll have to ask him about that), is hired to join the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi project management team.

And kilts, iPhones and record-breaking book releases for the world:

  • • 2007 is declared Scotland’s Year of Highland Culture.
  • • Apple CEO and Founder, Steve Jobs, announces the launch of the first iPhone, the iPhone 2G.
  • • Gliese 581 c, a potentially Earth-like planet capable of life, is discovered in the Libra constellation.
  • • A 2,100-year-old melon is discovered in Japan. Out of respect for your digestive systems, we will not show a photo of it.
  • • Live Earth Concerts are held throughout 9 major cities around the world.
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last book in the Harry Potter series, is released and sells over 11 million copies in the first 24 hours, making it the fastest selling book in history.

  •  

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The JRA Time Machine: 2006 - Passage to Asia

November 09, 2012

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HarborLand - Ningbo, China

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In 2006, JRA fully immersed itself in the Asia market, opening its first satellite office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to better connect with its customers across the world. At the same time, the company kept one foot firmly planted in its home country, opening a number of museums and brand attractions in the United States.

  • • Bolstered by the its past successes in Singapore, China and Hong Kong, JRA establishes its Southeast Asia office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, co-directed by Shahryn Azmi and Zarina Rafique.
  • • Meanwhile, the first JRA-designed theme park in China, HarborLand, opens to the public. That same year, current CEO Keith James is the featured speaker at the China Themed Attractions Summit.
  • • Closer to home, JRA opens three museums featuring cars, clowns, and cattle, respectively: the Gateway Auto Museum in Colorado, the Tibbals Learning Center at the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida and McKenna Children’s Museum in New Braunfels, Texas.
  • • JRA also served up another brand experience, with the completed renovation of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery and Visitors Center. JRA worked with iconic brand’s parent company Brown-Forman to incorporate a variety of new graphics, displays and media experiences along the tour, addressing topics ranging from single barrel whiskey to the bottling process.
  • • Nate Greicius joins the JRA team from DeBra-Kuempel. He and his wife, Heather Witt, will later move to the United Arab Emirates for three years to work on the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi project.

2006 was a year that celebrated the 250th anniversary of a musical genius, marked the completion of a successful space mission and reduced human communication to 140 characters or less:

  • • 2006 is declared the Year of Mozart, in honor of the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Celebrations are held in Salzburg and around the world on January 27th.
  • • NASA’s Stardust Mission successfully ends. It is the first mission to return dust from a comet.
  • • The Winter Olympics are held in Torino, Italy.
  • • Twitter is launched. And more productivity flies away with its little blue bird.
  • • The SS Nomadic, a tender ship to the Titanic, returns home to a large reception in Belfast.
  • • Jackson Pollock’s No. 5, 1948 is sold privately for $140 million, becoming the world’s most expensive painting.
  • • Al Jazeera launches its English language new channel, Al Jazeera English.
     

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The JRA Time Machine: 2005 - A Year of Firsts

November 08, 2012

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Arab American National Museum - Dearborn, Michigan, USA

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Even it its 17th year, JRA was still experiencing a number of “firsts,” including its first American children’s museum, its first project in Israel and the completion of a museum that would mark a first for the US.

• JRA wins its fourth THEA Award for Images of Singapore (with BRC Imagination Arts).
The Arab American National Museum opens in Dearborn, Michigan as the first museum in the nation devoted to Arab Americans, their cultures and experiences.
• JRA completes its first American children’s museum, the Kohl Children’s Museum in Wilmette, Illinois. The museum was designed following a Universal Design philosophy, ensuring maximum accessibility and enjoyment for guests of all physical, visual, auditory, or cognitive ability. The facility was also designed to be environmentally friendly and received Silver certification from the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED (Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design) program.


• Kings City also opens, marking JRA’s first project in Israel. This biblical theme park on the Red Sea features a variety of environments and attractions built around the stories of King Solomon.

Meanwhile, dwarves are identified, informants are unmasked and an Internet media empire is created:
• Eris, the largest known dwarf planet in the Solar System, is identified.


• YouTube is founded. A dramatic spike in online kitten videos follows.


• Charles, Prince of Wales marries Camilla Parker Bowles in a civil ceremony at Windsor’s Guildhall. Camilla becomes the Duchess of Cornwall.
• Kuwaiti women are granted the right to vote.
• The identity of Deep Throat, the secret informant who provided information to the Washington Post in 1972 about US President Nixon’s involvement in the Watergate Scandal, is revealed to be FBI Associate Director, Mark Felt.
• Kingda Ka opens at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey, USA as the world’s tallest and (at the time) fastest roller coaster.

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The JRA Time Machine: 2004 - In Our Own Backyard

November 07, 2012

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The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center - Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

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In 2004, JRA completed two important projects mere feet from each other and mere blocks from its studios. Both endeavors showcased the rich heritage of Cincinnati, albeit in completely different ways.

Down the street and around the world:

  • • The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opens in Cincinnati with a dedication ceremony that includes then First Lady Laura Bush, CNN Anchor Bill Hemmer and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young. As a world-class institution dedicated to fostering safe, open and honest dialogue on issues of freedom, the Center is on the leading edge of a new generation of cultural centers called “museums of conscience.”
  • • Two blocks away from the Freedom Center, the Cincinnati Reds Museum and Hall of Fame also opens in 2004. This sports attraction chronicles baseball’s oldest professional team and features a variety of one-of-a-kind artifacts, dioramas, theaters and interactives that convey not only the history of the Reds, but the excitement of America’s favorite pastime.
  • • On the other side of the world, JRA designs and produces a number of museum exhibits and entertainment attractions in Singapore, including the theming and show for the new Science Centre Singapore Atrium Experience. This show, with the help of a live actor and special effects, creates a high-energy, high-impact attraction that communicates a strong message about the thrill of science.
  • • JRA also completes a number of projects at Singapore’s resort Island of Sentosa, including “Images of Singapore” with BRC Imagination Arts, national historic site Fort Siloso, and the mythical Merlion attraction.
  • • Mark Amos arrives at JRA, bringing with him a gift for architectural design, sparkling wit and undeniable charm (and a flair for writing bullet points!).

Meanwhile, new technology platforms and iconic buildings emerge:

  • • Facebook launches, and a corresponding decrease in employee productivity ensues.
  • • The largest expansion to date of the European Union takes place, extending the union by 10 member-states: Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Malta and Cyprus.
  • • The first transit of Venus since 1882 occurs. A transit of Venus takes place when Venus passes between the Sun and Earth.
  • • Groundbreaking for the Freedom Tower (now named 1 World Trade Center) begins at Ground Zero in New York City, and construction on the Burj Khalifa, the tallest manmade structure in the world, begins in Dubai.
  • • Brazil successfully launches its first rocket into space.
  • • The world’s tallest bridge, the Millau Bridge over the River Tarn in the Massif Central Mountains of France, is opened by President Chirac.

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The JRA Time Machine: 2003 - Cheeseheads and the Chisholm Trail

November 06, 2012

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Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame

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2003 brought JRA several projects in its native Midwest, including one of its most successful sports attractions.

In the dusty plains of America, new museums take root:

  • • JRA completes design and production for the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame (home to its infamous “cheesehead” fans) at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
  • • The Chisholm Trail Heritage Center opens in Duncan, Oklahoma, chronicling the major route along which Texas cattle ranchers drove their herds north through Oklahoma to railroad points in Kansas.
  • • JRA completes its first project for Kings Island – the Bubba Gump Shrimp Shack, based on the Academy Award-winning film, Forrest Gump. The themed fast-casual restaurant would win JRA its 8th IAAPA Best New Product Award.
  • • Another Cincinnati project, “Mapping Our Tears” at the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, opens in 2003. JRA provided design and production for this environmental theater, which creatively uses testimonies to “map” the journeys of Holocaust refugees and survivors, liberators and rescuers.
  • • Other Mid-Western projects included Ottawa County Visitor Center Lake Erie Island and “Head First! Theater” at HealthSpace Cleveland.
  • • Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the world, JRA completes project work for Ocean Park in Hong Kong, which included a five-year master plan and the development of the park’s popular Kids’ World area.

… and across the pond, new discoveries are made:

  • • The journal Nature reports that 350,000-year-old upright walking human footprints had been found in Italy.
  • • The Human Genome Project is completed, with 99% of the human genome sequenced to 99.99% accuracy.
  • • Europe’s busiest shopping centre, the Bullring in Birmingham, is officially opened by Sir Albert Bore.
  • • China launches Shenzhou 5, their first manned space mission.
  • • The Concorde makes its last commercial flight, bringing the era of airliner supersonic travel to a close.

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The JRA Time Machine: 2002 - Celebrating 15 Years

November 05, 2012

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Enginuity - Coalbrookdale, UK

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Despite the economic challenges of the early 2000s, JRA witnessed the opening of several new museum, sport and brand projects, as well as its first entertainment attraction in India.

There were lots of things to celebrate in JRA’s 15th year…

  • • JRA wins another THEA Award for Ft. Worth Zoo – its third.
  • • Thunder Road USA: The Georgia Racing Hall of Fame opens in Dawsonville, Georgia. JRA provided overall creative direction for this sports attraction, which went on to win JRA another IAAPA Best New Product Award for Displays and Sets. Another sports project for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets also opens.
  • Heather Witt at Georgia Racing Hall of Fame
  • • JRA completes master planning and conceptual design for its first project in India – Ramoji Film City in Hyderabad.
  • • Also opening this year is the popular Enginuity in Coalbrookdale, United Kingdom. JRA, working with the museum’s in-house staff, designed a variety of cutting-edge interactives and displays, which have earned the 20,000-square-foot education attraction rave reviews over the last ten years.
  • • JRA witnessed the completion of several US museum projects as well, including the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and Museum, “Journey to the Model T” at The Henry Ford and “Space Command” at the Franklin Institute.
  • Space Command at the Franklin Institute
  • • Brand experiences opening in 2002 include the DuPont 200th Anniversary Celebration in Wilmington, Delaware and the Dell Briefing Center in Austin, Texas.

… and around the world:

  • • Elizabeth II celebrates her Golden Jubilee.
  • • The ex-currencies of all Euro-using nations cease to be legal tender in the European Union.
  • • The discovery of a new insect order, Mantophasmatodea, is announced.
  • • The Mars Odyssey finds signs of large water ice deposits on the planet Mars.
  • • Prince Felix of Denmark is born.
  • • The Academy Awards are broadcast for the first time in high definition (HD). Chicago wins Best Picture.

 

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The JRA Time Machine: 2001 – The Tables Turn

November 02, 2012

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Texas Wild! at the Fort Worth Zoo

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2001 brought JRA more projects and more awards. However, a tragedy in New York later that year brings work and life into greater perspective for all.

At JRA:
• Volkswagen’s Autostadt wins the coveted THEA Award for Outstanding Achievement.
“Texas Wild!” opens at the Fort Worth Zoo. JRA worked directly with the zoo’s team in the development of this eight-acre expansion highlighting the abundant, unique and varied wildlife of Texas. Later that year, Texas Wild! would earn JRA another IAAPA Best New Product Award – its sixth since 1996.
• JRA completes two brand attractions, the Lucent Technologies Customer Showcase and Briefing Center in Atlanta and the TXU Energy Services pavilion at American Airlines Arena in Dallas.

Meanwhile:
• Noah, a gaur, is born, making it the first animal of an endangered species to be cloned.


• Wikipedia launches on the Internet (thank goodness, or we never would have been able to find all these facts!)


• The world’s longest train is set up by BHP Iron Ore in Western Australia. It consists of 682 iron ore wagons and 8 locomotives.
• On September 11, two planes crash into the World Trade Center in New York. Another crashes into the Pentagon in the US capital, and a fourth crashes in Pennsylvania. Nearly 3,000 lives are lost.
• Apple introduces the iPod.

 

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The JRA Time Machine: 2000 - Design and Production for the New Millennium

November 01, 2012

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Volkswagen Autostadt - Wolfsburg, Germany

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Luckily for all of us, the world did not end at the stroke of midnight in 2000. Even luckier for JRA, the new millennium brought a host of museum and brand experience projects, including the opening of one of the company’s most successful attractions.

Cars, cans and dinos take center stage in 2000:

  • Volkswagen Autostadt, a JRA-designed and produced corporate attraction, opens in Wolfsburg, Germany. Not only would Autostadt win JRA another IAAPA Best New Product Award, the visitor center would shatter its initial projection of 1 million guests per year, surpassing the 25 millionth visitor mark in 2012.
  • El Museo de los Niños opens in Guatemala City. JRA worked with the First Lady of Guatemala to bring her country its premier museum for children, providing exhibit design, writing and research, production and project management for this special project.
  • • JRA completes both a permanent and traveling exhibit for the Field Museum about Sue – the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex fossil ever found.
  • • JRA wins the People’s Choice Award and Juror’s Favorite Award for its CANstruction entry. The competition awards prizes for art installations made entirely of cans. The cans are then donated to the local food bank.  JRA also wins critical and popular acclaim for its entry into the Big Pig Gig - a sculptural celebration of Cincinnati pork-centric past.  JRA won for its entry "The (Sty)ler-Davidson Fountain").  Sales of the pigs raised $800,000 for local non-profits.
  • • Other project completions in 2000 include the Animal Planet Rescue Vehicle and Park, “Dolphin Bay” at Texas State Aquarium, the American Classical Music Hall of Fame and the AMP Heritage Center brand experience.

Meanwhile:
• Computers did indeed shift correctly from 1999 to 2000.
• America Online announces agreement to purchase Time Warner for $182 billion, making it the largest-ever corporate merger.
• The Tagish Lake Meteorite hits the Earth. Only a few months later, a powerful solar flare, named the “Bastille Day event”, causes a geomagnetic storm on Earth.


• The billionth person living in India is born.
• Dora the Explorer debuts.


• The London Eye opens. It would be the tallest Ferris wheel in the world until 2006, when it is surpassed by the Star of Nanchang in 2006 and then the Singapore Flyer in 2008.

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