Polymedia brings Pushkin to life with museum updates

Polymedia worked with a Russian museum dedicated to Alexander Pushkin to deliver immersive experiences to coincide with the poet’s 220th birthday.

This year is the 220th anniversary of the birth of iconic Russian poet Alexander Pushkin and it coincides with a major overhaul of technology to enhance a visitor attraction dedicated to his life and works. 

The A.S. Pushkin State History and Literature Museum-Preserve in Bolshiye Vyazemy, where the poet was a regular guest in his childhood, is among the many museums and monuments dedicated to Pushkin throughout his native Russia. A special programme, supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Moscow Region, was launched to deploy a series of interactive installations at the site that would coincide with the anniversary. 

The museum’s objective was to immerse visitors in historical events that took place at the site and allow them to interact with legendary figures. They turned to Russian integrator Polymedia to help them design and install a series of interactive installations. Polymedia’s work extended to content creation and the integrator worked with professional directors and museum staff to script and generate content.

Elena Novikova, president of Polymedia, explained: “Innovation and technology are now the toolbox of creative people. Thanks to AV and IT systems, it became possible to create captivating interactive installations such as ‘Pushkin in the mirror’ and ‘Living Paintings’ with a face recognition technology. And of course, a modern digital museum has to have a mobile app.”

Outside speaker 2As visitors enter the estate through a lush park that leads up to the historical building, they can hear classical music and readings from different areas of the garden. Polymedia installed seven Bose FreeSpace 360P outdoor loudspeakers to achieve the effect. The speakers are cleverly concealed, match the colour of the grass and play content produced specifically for the project. 

The exhibition begins in a small lobby featuring a chest of drawers with antique tableware, a chair and a large wall mirror. At first the room doesn’t appear to have any technology but, when visitors approach the mirror, a ghost-like silhouette starts to appear and slowly transform into Pushkin. The poet greets visitors and talks about the site and his memories of the estate. 

To achieve the effect, Polymedia mounted a Logitech C525 camera on top of the mirror and used Addreality software for facial recognition and tracking. The system identifies when a person stops in front of the mirror for a certain length of time before launching the video. The video is played on a 49-in ultra HD Aqua View Smart TV with in-built speakers, covered in a mirror coat and built into an antique-like frame. 

As visitors walk into a dining hall and further exhibition areas, they encounter three “living paintings” depicting historical events that took place at the estate. A display in the dining hall shows Russian Emperor Pavel I enjoying a cup of tea, one in the study features nobleman Knyaz Golytsyn writing a letter to his mother, and a third in a fireplace hall depicts an extraordinary event when the Field Marshal of the Russian Empire Mikhail Kutuzov and Napoleon Bonaparte both visited the estate within a space of 24 hours.

Polymedia used 43-in LG 43SM5KE LCD displays to create the living paintings. Again, Addreality signage and facial recognition software is used to launch the video content and supports facial recognition and tracking. The three displays have small cameras installed on the top edge of the frame. Because of differences in lighting, visitor flow, precision and look of the device two different cameras were selected. Two Espada USB flexible cameras and one Logitech C270 USB camera were deployed. 
Study (1)
The fireplace hall, or international library, also features a dynamic map, projected onto the floor of the room. The projected content is accompanied by an audio file to illustrate historical events that took place in the area, specifically looking at the movement of Russian and French armies from Borodino to Moscow during the doomed French invasion of Russia in 1812. 

The installation had to be sensitive to the historical room that hosts concerts and readings from time to time. It has an antique floor with a complicated colour pattern and Polymedia had to preserve the interior of the room and project the image on to the floor without altering the surface in any way.

The integrator mounted four Casio XJ-V10X DLP projectors on a wall close to the ceiling. Addreality Extreme software supports the display of multi-channel projection and non-standard resolution content while Vioso Anyblend software enables seamless multi-channel edge-blending. 

The museum team is provided with an Apple iPad and an Extron control app to launch the map. The integrated Extron IPCP Pro 255 control processor helps to switch the projectors and some other devices in the building on and off. Because the building is a historical estate most of the connections are enabled via Wi-Fi. 

All content is enabled by the AddReality software and the museum staff can launch, alter and change content using a dedicated work station. 

Museum visitors can access an interactive guide for the estate using their smartphones. Polymedia took input from the museum staff to develop the app that includes 40 audio guides and 3 interactive sightseeing tours. 

Polymedia will also use Peroni Magic Mirror film and a display to create a ghostly recreation of the Queen Spades. According to legend, Pushkin attended a celebratory event at the estate and met Natalya Petrovna Golytsyna, who became the prototype for the famous character. She will be recreated in the bedroom, sitting on a couch and reading a monologue. When visitors enter the room, they will first hear noises before the ghost like figure appears on the couch. 

To complete the project, Polymedia will integrate an interactive digital library on the upper floor of the building called ‘Memory’. The room was historically dedicated to Russian literature and Polymedia has used a special no-touch scanner to capture the works without damaging them. The integrator will create antique-like bookcases with embedded interactive screens so visitors can read the precious texts. 

“The installations generate keen interest from the public, especially among children,” says Elena Zhemchuzhina, senior research scientist of the exhibition department. “We mainly have children as the audience and they respond to all the characters in a lively way, especially to Pushkin. Pavel I is also the subject of keen interest. And, of course, Kutuzov and Napoleon who visited [the estate] one after another.”

Tech Spec

Bose FreeSpace 360P loudspeakers

Apple iPad
Extron controller application an IPCP Pro 255 control processor
Polymedia smartphone app

Addreality software
Casio XJ-V10X DLP projectors
Espada USB cameras
LG 43SM5KE LCD displays
Logitech C525 and C270 USB cameras
Vioso Anyblend software

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