Chicago Museum Upgrades with AV Stumpfl

Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) has been equipped with an AV Stumpfl PIXERA mini Quad server and three Fullwhite screens to add a new dimension to its newly renovated Pioneer Zephyr exhibition.

© Heidi Peters / Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

© Heidi Peters / Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

© Heidi Peters / Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

© Heidi Peters / Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

© Heidi Peters / Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

The exhibition, which has been part of MSI’s collection since 1960, invites guests to marvel at the 60m diesel passenger train that reinvented travel and design, telling its formidable story through a combination of media. 

Sporting a streamlined stainless-steel body and a cutting-edge diesel-electric engine, the Zephyr revolutionised the look of rail travel, while reducing fuel and maintenance costs. Although the public were shocked at first, they eventually fell in love with all things ‘streamlined’ and the Zephyr’s sleek form was soon mirrored in everyday items from transportation to toasters. 

“The Pioneer Zephyr is a beloved piece of transportation and Museum history that has wowed guests for generations,” said John Llewellyn, creative lead at MSI. “We are thrilled to reopen this Museum icon for guests to experience up close its beautiful design and incredible story which sets the stage for what to expect as they explore the rest of MSI.”  

A key part of the exhibition’s update – which was undertaken to help bring the Zephyr to life for new generations – is the 170ft-long projected media piece that runs alongside the train, making it feel like those exploring the train are in motion. The projections also show the ‘West Wind Vista’, which not only provides a sense of motion, but highlights the Pioneer Zephyr’s influence on the evolution of transportation, aerodynamics, and streamlining in industrial design. 

Creative Technology Group was tasked with taking care of the installation, overseen by project lead Michael Fuller.  

Fuller and his team identified AV Stumpfl’s Fullwhite screen as being the perfect projection surface for the job, as its borderless appearance would help preserve the immersive nature of the projected content. Three screens were required in total – measuring 43’8” wide x 13’8” high.  

The team also specified one of AV Stumpfl’s PIXERA mini Quad media servers to control the three projectors and the content they displayed. 

“Utilising AV Stumpfl products within our design for the Pioneer Zephyr project was the best route for us to take,” said Fuller. “AV Stumpfl is in the industry to craft fine products with meticulous detail, and that really shows in the end result. The customer service assistance we received from them was tremendous, and having them train our installation team prior to installation was key in developing the required warp for our 180˚ projection surface.” 

“We are so satisfied to have our solutions deployed on such a prestigious project,” said Hans Christian Stucken, global marketing advisor for AV Stumpfl. “In the same way that this enchanting exhibition showcases the latest in display technology alongside the Zephyr’s timeless engineering, we – with the help of the talented team at CT – have been able to show that both our digital and analogue products can be used in tandem to bring out the best in one another.” 

“Museum visitors love the new exhibit, and are wowed by the larger-than-life media piece that brings energy and motion to the train,” said Sheila Cawley, MSI’s vice president of external affairs. “Children and their parents are being inspired as they learn the Zephyr’s history and explore the science and engineering behind train travel. The new exhibition is a showstopper.” 

The renovation of the Pioneer Zephyr was made possible through the generous support of The Grainger Foundation of Lake Forest, Ill.   

Photo credit: Heidi Peters / Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago