A knight’s tale at Alka museum, Croatia
Tradition and technology combine to take museumgoers on a journey back to the 18th century in Sinj, Croatia. Charlotte Ashley reports.
A celebration of Croatia’s equestrian heritage, the Alka museum was designed to educate visitors on the Alka (‘ring’) knight tournament of Sinj, which has taken place every August in the town since 1715 in honour of its defeat of the Ottoman Empire. Projection, touchscreens, directional sound and aroma dispensers are deployed over 1,100 square metres to immerse museumgoers in the game, inscribed on the Unesco Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2010.
Local integrator AVC won a tender process to work with the museum and designer Nikolina Jelavic Mitrovic,after previously working with them on other projects as consultants and installers. AVC was tasked with “giving a full overview to visitors about Alka’s story, history and heritage,” according to sales director at AVC’s Zagreb division, Edin Karamehmedovic. Renowned local designer Mitrovic notes: “The client wanted a museum which symbolises the tournament: alive, interactive, and rich in presentation.” She adds that the museum was different from other museum projects she works on as “at this museum, technology is equally important as the objects.”
“The client wanted a museum which symbolises the tournament: alive, interactive, and rich in presentation.”
The project - which began as only concrete and lighting in early April 2015 - had to be completed in just four months, in time for the anniversary of the battle of Sinj in Croatia last August. “This meant working alongside carpenters, dry-wall installers, electricians, air conditioning installers and others seven days and nights a week, as well as coordinating with the people who were producing the content for the system,” says Karamehmedovic.
Due to the dynamic nature of the game, it was essential to incorporate multimedia into the installation to complement the museum’s fixed exhibits. “Alka tournament is a very fast game and it’s hard to present it without moving pictures and sound,” says Karamehmedovic. “Interactive multimedia was the perfect solution to complement all the exhibits.”
From the moment visitors enter Alka museum, located in the town of Sinj in central Dalmatia, technology captures the attention. They are met with a two-by-two 46-in Barco videowall showing a music video about the history of Sinj and the surrounding villages, alongside three 27-in touchscreens deployed to provide tourist information on the town. All technology and films were programmed in Croatian and English for visitors, with the museum located only half an hour away from Croatia’s second-largest town, Split.
After the lobby, visitors pass through the wardrobe room to a conference hall where a film about the history of the Alka competition shows throughout the day, powered by four blended Panasonic PT-RZ670 laser projectors fed with a Dataton Watchout playback system and synchronised with a museum-wide Pickup audio tourguide system.
To provide extra revenue streams to the museum, the hall is equipped for conferences. In addition to WUXGA projector resolution, JBL speakers driven by Crown amplifiers, AKG wireless microphones and BSS Soundweb London for sound processing serve this purpose.Operators can easily switch from museum to conference mode from an AMX control system deployed throughout the museum.
Walking into the procession hall museumgoers are greeted with an Alka procession, comprised of life-size wooden horses, riders and squires. To the left and right of the procession are two walls of intelligent glass (measuring 240 cm x 300 cm) with buttons on either side. Touching them brings the procession to life, and begins a series of projections on the glass of previous Alka tournaments. In front of the model procession visitors can watch a film showing a real-life procession through the streets of Sinj on a 7-metre wide projection.
The immersive experience of Alka continues into a room featuring a life-size wooden horse and rider and panoramic side-shot projection about the race created by four Panasonic projectors, accompanied by a four channel audio system. On the room’s front wall, a Barco 14,500 lumen RLM-W14 creates a rider’s-view projection of participating in the game. Samsung 32-in monitors are also deployed to show other locations around Europe where similar games are taking place, and footage of the events.
Other areas such as the weapon and apparel displays are made interactive with the addition of four Apple iPads displaying relevant information about weapons. “There is a vertical railing system, on the vertical rail there is an iPad and on the top of the showcase there is a laser sensor and it measures the distance between sensor and the iPad. Then it calculates the distance it sends the location to iPad, and then the application knows the location and the app changes the display so visitors can touch one sword on the display and read about it.”
Panasonic and Samsung LCD monitors ranging from 32-in to 65-in also show on-demand and looped content to the visitor.
Museumgoers can further engage with Alka in the venue’s games corner. Here they can compete in a two-player battle on a table with two slim bezel Barco monitors with a U-touch multitouch overlay. Two ceiling-mounted Ultrasonic Acouspade directive speakers and a gun-powder aroma dispenser synchronised to events in the game further enhances the experience.
Listening stations are spread around the museum allowing visitors to listen to traditional soundtracks associated with Alka. A four- by-four 55-in Barco videowall accompanied by a small desk with a touchscreen allows a visitor to choose a year and see the record of the winning competitor. To delve deeper into the history of Alka, museumgoers can access three 50-in desk-mounted Panasonic touchscreens providing a complete archive of the game.
The €12 million project was opened by then-Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic and president of the Alka Knights Society, shortly before the 300th Alka tournament took place.
AKG Wireless microphones
BSS Soundweb London DSP
Dataton Pickup system
Ultrasonic audio Acouspade directive speakers
AMX control system
Barco RLM-W14 3-chip projector and KVD-5521 4x4 videowall
Intelligent glass projection foil
Panasonic PT-RZ670 laser projector, LCD monitors and touchscreens
Samsung LCD monitors