Where in the World is JRA? Conference World Tour 2016-17

August 24, 2016

Conference season is upon us! This is our favorite time of year, because it gives us a chance to meet you in person, listen to your project dreams, and help you craft them into on-time, on-budget realities.

As usual, beginning in a few weeks, we'll be traveling the globe - working hard, but having some fun along the way. So, without further ado, here's where our journeys will be leading us in 2016-17:

IAAPA Attractions Expo

  • November 14-18, 2016
  • Orlando, Florida, USA 
  • Booth 1369
  • Gold Sponsor


IAAPA Leadership Conference

  • March 8-10, 2017
  • Anaheim/Hollywood, California, USA



Dubai Entertainment and Leisure Show (DEAL)

  • March 27-29, 2017
  • Dubai, UAE



Themed Entertaiment Association (TEA) Summit and Thea Awards

  • April 20-22, 2017
  • Disneyland Resort, Anaheim, California, USA
  • Global Sponsor


Association of Children's Museums (ACM) InterActivity Conference

children's museums


American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo

  • May 7-10, 2017
  • St. Louis, Missouri, USA
  • Booth 2224



IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo

  • June 13-16, 2017
  • Singapore
  • Gold Sponsor
  • Booth L617


IAAPA Euro Attractions Show

  • September 24-28, 2017
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Silver Sponsor


Storytelling Architecture Technology Experience (SATE) Conference

  • Fall 2017
  • Global Sponsor


Association of Science-Technology Centers Conference

  • October 21-24, 2017
  • San Jose, California, USA



Be sure to check our blog for the latest news updates and photos, and we look foward to seeing you on the road!



Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team , Outside the Studio

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Flying North for the Winter: Angry Birds Universe to Land in Canada

August 23, 2016

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Angry Birds Universe Traveling Exhibition

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The Birds are back! After flying to Dubai, Qatar and China, "Angry Birds Universe: The Art & Science Behind a Global Phenomenon," will land at the TELUS Science Centre in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for a six-month run.

JRA partnered with Rovio and Imagine Exhibitions to create Angry Birds Universe. The 10,000-square-foot traveling exhibition features a variety of immersive environments and interactive activities, allowing fans to learn a vast array of educational concepts in an entertaining manner, including the chance to “Be The Bird” and experience the Angry Birds games in real life.

Guests first learn about the famous Angry Birds characters and their nemeses, the Bad Piggies, in a short theatrical pre-show experience. Guests are then invited to explore the characters’ home - the mysterious and exciting Piggy Island.

Guests will also have opportunities to engage in hands-on demonstrations of various Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) concepts, including building and racing handheld vehicles in a live version of the game: Angry Birds Go!; digital art and music activities that encourage guests to learn about the creation of the Angry Birds games; exhibits explaining real bird characteristics from egg sizes to wingspan measurements; interactives allowing guests to learn the principals of vortexes, lasers, and mass; building structures and sling-shot-launching Angry Birds to test their constructions; and participating in a one-of-a-kind experience allowing visitors to “be the bird” and safely propel down a zip line to knock over enormous foam structures, just like the Angry Birds!

Angry Birds naturally teaches guests about science and physics using multiple interactives and immersive environments. Guests will have fun learning at Angry Birds Universe!


The Birds are roosting at TELUS World of Science - Edmonton October 8, 2016 through April 4. 2017. To buy tickets to Angry Birds Universe, check out the TELUS website or call +1 (780) 451-3344. Want to book Angry Birds Universe? Please ontact Debbie Donahue at Imagine Exhibitions.


Tags: Project Spotlight

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National Comedy Center: Creating a Destination with the Power of Laughter

August 17, 2016

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National Comedy Center - Jamestown, New York, USA

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Recently, JRA Designer Colin Cronin had the opportunity to attend the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival in Jamestown, New York. Not only did he get to see some of the top comics in action on stage, he was able to give the likes of Paul Provenza and Peter Farrelly a tour of the JRA-designed National Comedy Center. In today's blog post, Colin reflects on how a small upstate New York town plans to solidify its future as the "Cooperstown of Comedy."

Every year, at the start of August, comedy fans from all over the world flock to Jamestown, New York. This leads to the inevitable question: Why Jamestown?

It’s not an uncommon question to ask. But for those in the know, (translation: Comedy Nerds) it’s obvious. Jamestown was the hometown of one Lucille Ball. Part of Lucy’s legacy, and her dream, was to transform her home into a global destination for comedy – a place for performances, education, and celebration. To this end, the National Comedy Center was formed.

The annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival is just one component of the National Comedy’s Center’s mission – which is directly inspired by Lucy’s wishes for Jamestown. The NCC also currently operates the Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy in downtown Jamestown and sponsors cultural comedy events throughout the rest of the year, such as the recent celebration of George Carlin at the Paley Center. You may have also heard of a little project JRA is currently working on: the first permanent exhibition celebrating the art form of comedy, The National Comedy Center.

This year, for the first time, I was lucky enough to see, experience, and laugh at “Lucy Fest” for myself. Since we started working on the project, I’ve heard so much about the festival from our clients, but I still didn’t know what to expect. When you’ve heard about events like the “World’s Largest Grape Stomp”, there aren’t many previous life experiences you can compare it to.

I have now been to Jamestown many times (including once when I was 11, on a family pilgrimage to the I Love Lucy promised land), but I have never seen it like this. Walking though the once sleepy streets, the excitement was palpable. Adding to the permanent Lucille Ball murals throughout town were quotes from famous comedians, both poignant and hilarious. Street vendors and booths were being set up throughout town, and the Lucy-Desi Museum was doing gangbusters business.

And this was only the first day.

As the dream and legacy of Lucille Ball, her presence can be felt throughout the festival.

Throughout the festival, I had the chance to see discussions on the legacy of comedians, street performers and bands, improv and theater acts, and of course stand-up comedy from the likes of Lewis Black, Trevor Noah, and Brian Regan. All of this alone would have been worth the trip, of course.

But honestly, I was most excited seeing Jamestown come to life is such a vibrant and unique way. Everywhere I went, people were talking about comedy, telling jokes, debating whether or not The Marx Brothers would be included in the Center. (The answer these Jamestownians landed on was “yes, of course they will”).

And yes, I also heard that question we started with: “Why Jamestown?” Even from the headlining acts! But what was very interesting to me is that the answer was never “Why not Jamestown?” The answer was always “Of COURSE Jamestown.” (I may have cleaned up some of the language, but you get the point.)

Jamestown, New York has been quietly leveraging itself as a center for the Comedic Arts for decades now, following the dreams and vision of Lucille Ball. JRA is nothing but honored to be part of this project, and part of this continuing legacy. It is a testament to how our projects - these physical locations, homes of archives, displays, and exhibits - become much more than just a building. They can have a profound effect on communities, and be in turn effected by those communities, in a continual cycle of growth, inspiration, and education.

The historic Reg Lenna Center for the Arts, in downtown Jamestown, once host Vaudeville performers, was filled to capacity for stand-up at Lucy Fest.

So yes, you might still be asking “Why Jamestown?”. But I would enjoy it while you can. I can’t imagine people will be asking “Why Jamestown?” for much longer

Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team , Project Spotlight

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Experiencing the Beauty of Barcelona at EAS

August 08, 2016


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The SPAM Museum Effect: How a Shrine to Spiced Meat Revitalized a Town

August 02, 2016

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The SPAM Museum - Austin, Minnesota, USA

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This past Friday, over 10,000 hungry tourists descended upon Austin, Minnesota to celebrate the 125th Anniversary of Hormel Foods and the Grand Opening of the already critically acclaimed SPAM Museum. Revelers enjoyed entry into the Museum, a food truck festival featuring a bevy of SPAM delicacies, an appearance by Food Network TV personality Sunny Anderson, a mini-music festival featuring the Grammy-nominated country trio The Band Perry, and a closing finale of fireworks.

Nearly 50,000 people have visited the SPAM Museum in less than 3 months, including residents from 47 of the 50 US states and from as far away as Korea, Guam, and Nepal. This influx of tourism hasn't just been a boon for the Museum and Hormel, it has also revitalized the city of Austin.

"It's hard to imagine any other attraction replicating that amount of traffic, and it's already provided a very real boost to the local economy," lauded Austin Vision 2020 Director, Greg Siems, in the Austin Daily Herald.

As the previous iteration of the SPAM Museum was located adjacent to the highway, visitors could simply breeze through the museum and make their way down the road. An abandoned downtown lot, whose buildings were destroyed in a fire, provided the perfect location for a SPAM Museum 2.0 that would drive traffic to surrounding businesses.

And drive traffic it has. According to Seims, the Austin Artworks Center has doubled its retail sales, restaurants and shops are extending hours, and a variety of new businesses are in the works.

JRA provided complete planning, design and project management for the new SPAM® Museum, which houses the "world's largest collection of spiced pork artifacts."

At the SPAM® Museum, guests can test their height against cans of SPAM, run, jump and slide in a SPAM-themed playground, and even simulate making a can of SPAM. Along the way, they are treated to SPAMples of Hormel's many canned meat varieties. A gift shop stocked with a vast array of SPAM-related products greets them at the exit.

Siems praised the vision of Hormel and the many volunteers who made the Museum, and Friday's celebration, possible: "You all saw the potential of this updated facility in its new location, and turned what was a fire-stricken empty lot into one of the biggest success stories Austin has seen in some time."

Check out the video below to get a peek at the celebration. Congratulations to the SPAM Museum, Hormel Foods and the City of Austin on this SPAM-tastic achievement!



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