Wake me up: Avicii Museum's AV-powered celebration

The Avicii Experience pays tribute to EDM’s greatest pioneer through an intelligent, creative and emotional installation. Reece Webb reports.

The Avicii Experience is a museum located in Stockholm, Sweden, paying homage to one of electronic dance music’s (EDM’s) greatest artists and pioneers, Tim Bergling, known by his stage name, Avicii. Bergling tragically lost his life to suicide in 2018 after struggling with mental health pressures and addiction.

The museum was the brainchild of Bergling’s parents, built in Tim’s memory, and exploring Avicii’s early life, his music success story and later struggles with mental health and addiction. To create an experience that pays authentic homage to the artist’s music, no compromise could be made on the quality that would be delivered by the AV experience inside the museum.

Creative Technology (CT) Sweden stepped up to the job, led by senior technical advisor and long-time Avicii fan Fredrik Lyckman.

Lyckman explains: “I listened to a lot of Avicii, even when he released his first works, I was instantly hooked. We were born in the same year, and I even saw him live when I was working as a technician. When I heard that we were starting to work on this project, I was the first to raise my hand to take it on.”

CT had previously worked with the client, Pophouse, to create another project in the same building as the Avicii Museum called Space, a digital culture centre. CT was contracted by Pophouse to handle the technical installation within the venue, which included this museum setup.

For this project, CT was tasked with outfitting 30 different spaces within the exhibition, as Lyckman says: “[Pophouse] had a visual idea of how the exhibition would look, but they wanted us to expand on that from the technological side. We received a 28-page PDF document of pictures that demonstrated where they wanted elements such as screens, sound or a certain feeling and they asked for our recommendations.

“Capturing the sound and the feeling of Avicii was so important, getting the feeling of everything he works with, everything had to be right from start to finish.” Stepping into the museum’s welcome area, visitors are met by two large LED screens: One serves as an attraction screen, displaying teasers of content from the museum, whereas the second screen shows a movie about Bergling’s life, giving the audience an introduction to the artist.

Lyckman says: “We used a Samsung The Wall 1.68mm LED screen as well as Crestron 8-in Saros speakers in the ceiling supported by Bose AMS155 subwoofers. The sound was the most critical element of this installation as Avicii’s music is at the heart of this museum and we needed to have his music everywhere. This had to be done without overpowering other sounds in the museum. It was a challenge to achieve the right volume in the right place to create the right feeling.”

When CT got the contract for this project, Lyckman worked closely with the content creators responsible for putting content on each screen in the museum. The screens are not flat on the wall and are curved to make the most of the space as the exhibition is only 300 sq m in size, requiring CT to use every square metre in the whole venue.

“We had to bend, curve and fit the screens and speak with the content creators as they created the content based on how we mounted the screens”, says Lyckman, “If we have an angle in the screen, they would have to think about this when they were creating the content.”

Content was fed from Dataton Watchout media servers with sound provided through Yamaha VXL loudspeakers for additional power. Audiences find themselves moving on to Avicii’s childhood bedroom, home to original items that belonged to Bergling or were the same kind that he owned. Lyckman adds: “The family don’t want to open this museum anywhere else, they want this museum space equipped with Avicii’s original items with the best quality that they can give to the audience.

“One of the biggest challenges in this space was that we had to play Avicii’s old World of Warcraft character on a really old screen with old Harman Kardon speakers; mounting them in working condition with a more modern speaker mounted under the table. We used a Crestron NVX system to send content from 100 metres away to an old VGA screen. Getting all of this working was not easy!”

Visitors then move into a new space, called Avicii versus Philgood, where CT provided a Samsung 65-in screen which shows Avicii and Philgood, one of his best friends, meeting for the first time.

“Samsung is a huge part of this exhibition”, says Lyckman, “Both CT and Pophouse have a really good partnership with Samsung. We have some unreleased songs played on Black Box headphones that visitors can pick up and listen to hear vocals and songs that are probably never going to be released outside of this exhibition.”

Pushing on through the exhibition, visitors find themselves in an apartment environment where a Samsung screen is used to show a video of Bergling’s father talking to the audience about what Tim used to eat in his teenage years, showing off his first DJ equipment.

This space threw up complications due to the low ceiling, forcing CT to consider how the sound would play out from all of the Yamaha VXL speakers located in the ceiling without disturbing other areas. “It was a major technical challenge for us as there are 28 different sound zones throughout the space”, says Lyckman, “you should not be disturbed by any other zone.”

Further still into the exhibition, visitors find themselves in a replica of Avicii’s studio, complete with an original studio, screens and original gear that Avicii worked on to create some of his famous tracks. This area has a Samsung 65-in screen showing Avicii at work, supported by two 6-in Crestron Saros speakers.

Nearby is a mixing station which features a profile of Avicii’s face, with built-in ELO touchscreens and Crestron NVX 360 encoders/decoders. This setup features a side of ELO touchscreens and another setup lower down, designed to be accessible for users in wheelchairs or for children. “It is very important that everybody is welcome and can use this system, it was essential for us.” says Lyckman.

More Black Box headphones are also featured in this space to demonstrate three different, pre-release versions of Avicii’s hit, Levels, providing an interactive experience for visitors.

Audiences then move into a facts and figures zone, demonstrating interesting facts about Avicii and his hits, using a Samsung 32-in QMR series display, with an additional two displays showing interviews with those who knew Avicii best.

A Microsoft Kinect is used to create an interactive experience for visitors to create a song, working in tandem with a 65-in Samsung QMR display which is supported by Genelec 4020 installation speakers to create a punchy audio backdrop in this area. CT also installed a Genelec 4020 installation speaker inside a piano, creating an ethereal feeling as guests pass by.

As the exhibition continues, guests enter the mirror room: A space that features LED on four sides with LEDs in the sides and in the ceiling, creating a visual representation showing the frantic lifestyle of Avicii throughout his career. Lyckman says: “We wanted the audience to feel what it is like to be ripped from place to place, gaining the perspective that Tim had been living a stressful life. You understand that it can completely destroy you, it’s very sad.

“We used a huge The Wall 1.6mm screen on three sides, with built-in Crestron speakers in the roof and the bottom of the LED screens to get eight channel sound. When you have an aircraft flying around on screen, it captures the sound along with sound reinforcement from Bose AMS155 subwoofers. It was a challenge to fit all of this into a small area!”

Ahead of this, is a replica of a tour bus space which Avicii used in the last days of his life, featuring Genelec speakers and a Macbook that runs content 24/7, the same model that Avicii used on his tours.

An ELO 32-in touchscreen is also in the tour space, showing content of Avicii’s Los Angeles house, with screens playing the software that Avicii used to use via Crestron NVX.

One highlight of the experience for Lyckman is the concert room, a space that allows visitors to immerse themselves in the feeling of a live, Avicii concert, powered by a Samsung The Wall.

Lyckman explained: “We had a lot of meetings with the content creators. They cut a lot of the footage from one of Avicii’s memorial concerts after he passed away, creating a 360 LED effect and a huge Bose rig in the roof and moving lights played out by Watchout.

Each pixel on The Wall is exactly where it should be. Everything is thought through, even the height of the DJ booth was considered so that it doesn’t cover anything when the audience is looking at the footage.

When it was all put together, it gave me goosebumps and a tear in my eye, it’s the highlight of the project for me.” After this space, there is a room showing content of Avicii’s private memorial service, supported by a Samsung projector. “This is a very relaxed space for reflecting”, says Lyckman, “We couldn’t have sound spilling out from the [more lively] concert room, so it was a challenge to handle this. We also play music through some Crestron speakers in this space.”

“As the experience comes to a close, visitors find themselves outside of the museum, where two smaller Crestron Saros speakers and a Samsung 32-in screen provide content from the Tim Bergling Foundation, focused on suicide prevention. Sometimes, during Christmas and Spring Break, they have people from the foundation to speak to when people come out as there are so many feelings that come out with you after going through such a small space and you have to reflect somewhere.”

CT spent ten months on site, working to a tight deadline through the Covid pandemic to deliver an exhibition that it is as technically masterful as it is emotionally punching.

Lyckman closes: “A project like this would never have been possible without the fantastic work done by all of my awesome colleagues. They really put their soul into this project: Especially project managers Lennart Franksson, Dimitrios Sotiriadis, and Fredrik Grass. When I take my friends and family here, it’s amazing to see them feel the same things that I feel, reflecting and seeing what we have created. None of my family understand what we do with tech and to show them that technology can impact and get people to feel something is incredible.”

Kit list

Black Box headphones

Bose AMS155 subwoofers

BrightSign 4K media players

Crestron 8-in Saros speakers, DM-NVX E30 encoders, NVX360 encoders/decoders

Dataton Watchpax 60 media servers

ELO 24-in touch LCD monitors

Genelec 4020 installation speakers

Microsoft Kinect

Samsung The Wall IWA016 (82m2-in size), Samsung QM55R (55-in), QM65R (65-in), QM32R (32-in), Premier projector

Yamaha VXL loudspeakers

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