Top 5 Museum Market Integrators

These innovative, market-leading firms share dos and don’ts when approaching this experience-centric vertical.

Think of the CI Industry Leaders as power rankings.

We recognize the top integration firms serving 12 vertical markets, not purely by revenue but by a variety of factors including reputation, innovation and market approach. Put another way, these are companies that are making waves and worth watching.

CI spoke to five museum market integrators about what helped them succeed (or fail!) at every step along the way. Check out what they have to say and click here to download the complete report, Meet the 2014 CI Industry Leaders.

On Success:

“The integrator has to understand that the end user is really trying to respond to an artist, end user or internal exhibit architect. Quite frankly, in some cases artists aren’t the best to deal with because they have the wildest ideas.

“I understand that my [clients] deal with that, so in a sense I’m working with him to solve the artist’s objective and with the exhibit architect to try to be a bridge. So you get some very interesting questions: ‘Can we point the projector at the floor?’ ‘Can we point it at mirrors?’ It’s not standard AV conference room stuff. You have to have patience.” —Ted Sheppard, Founder, 3rd Street Services

Related: VideoSonic Transforms NY Visitors Center in SuperBowl Media Hub

“We not only find ourselves designing museum exhibits and figuring out the budgets for them, we [also] often play an active role in the fundraising attributes of a project. Whether it’s building mock-ups or demo systems, or appealing to corporations or other benefactors for sponsorship.

“Lately we have attended several missions, meetings with potential benefactors where VideoSonic’s role being a ‘pitch man’ has helped to raise the capital to produce an exhibition.” —Glenn Polly, President, VideoSonic

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“Museum projects vary a lot from project to project. We never really do the same thing twice … You have to be very flexible and very creative because you’re not just dealing with the basics. Speaker situations vary. Sound bleed tends to be a major issue. It doesn’t tend to involve standard control systems.” —Maris Ensing, President, Mad Systems

On Failure:

“An integrator not willing to go beyond 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. will fail. I’ll deal with museum customers in the evenings, because you really have to want to be part of what they’re doing or they won’t have you doing it. You need to love being creative. I really get into what they’re doing. You have to love the end result.” —Ted Sheppard, Founder, 3rd Street Services

Related: Stouenborg Takes AV Immersion Deep Underwater

“[You may fail if you don’t appreciate that] the designer is a very different type of person. They are creative people. They take a holistic view of the whole museum or gallery that they’re working on and … work out the message that they want to convey.

“The designer’s role is different in that he’s not going to care if it’s an HP computer or Dell or Lenovo or whatever it is that you’re using. He cares about the fact that it’s a screen and it’s 80 inches and it’s in 4K format and it’s interactive.” —Maris Ensing, President, Mad Systems

Click here to download the complete report, “Meet the 2014 CI Industry Leaders.”