When we say “The Greatest of All Time,” most sports fans—and many people in general—would easily be able to identify we’re talking about Muhammad Ali. The cultural center dedicated to keeping the legendary boxer and social activist’s memory alive recently got a facelift aimed at giving visitors to his hometown a more interactive experience.
Located in the heart of historic downtown Louisville, Ky., the Muhammad Ali Center features three levels of award-winning exhibits and galleries. The Center, an international cultural center with a museum experience, shares Ali’s legendary life and legacy and invites visitors to reflect upon their own values, inner strength, character and what makes them great.
Visitors journey through the Center’s interactive and multimedia exhibits to discover the six core principles that Muhammad Ali embraced throughout his life and will be forever tied to his legacy: Confidence, Conviction, Dedication, Giving, Respect and Spirituality.
Video Solutions Inc. of Louisville was recently tasked with upgrading control systems, displays, playback devices and servers across the Center.
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“Most of the exhibits built 10 years ago are AV-based, and equipment had begun to age,” says Mike Little, president of Video Solutions Inc. Some systems were experiencing reliability problems over time and others were obsolete platforms, he says, noting the company performed a large upgrade of the Center’s hardware and software while the museum remained open to visitors.
“It’s important for the Center to stay up-to-date and innovative to keep visitors coming and to maximize and personalize their experience at the Center,” says Jeanie Kahnke, senior director of public relations and external affairs at the Center. She notes the Center had about 100,000 visitors in 2016, with 25,000 coming in the week after Ali died.
Championship Caliber Interactive Technology
Visitors are introduced to the Center’s exhibits in the If You Can Dream Orientation Theater. A 14-minute film, If You Can Dream, is displayed on five screens in the immersive environment. It provides an overview of Ali’s life and introduces to visitors his six core principles, which are organized in six individual pavilions.
Visitors get to track Ali’s success in the ring with the film, “The Greatest,” which is projected onto the floor of a boxing ring and viewed from a mezzanine level. Ali All the Time offers visitors the opportunity to view on demand, 15 of his most famous fight. The exhibit incorporates pre- and post-fight material and original broadcast commentary.
In the interactive “Train with Ali” exhibit, a recreation of Ali’s Deer Lake, Pa., training camp, visitors can shadow box with The Champ, practice their rhythm on the speed bag, feel the power of an Ali punch on the heavy bag and learn winning techniques from Ali’s daughter, Laila.
Finally, the Lighting the Way Theater relives the extraordinary moment when Ali lit the Olympic torch in Atlanta in 1996.
Visitors get to track Ali’s success in the ring with the film, “The Greatest,” which is projected onto the floor of a boxing ring and viewed from a mezzanine level.
The Center also includes two art galleries. The Howard L. Bingham Gallery is a key space for special art exhibitions and the LeRoy Neiman Gallery is a changing exhibit space that features works selected by the late artist and his curator depicting Ali’s bouts and portraiture.
Video Solutions selected Alcorn McBride’s DVM8500 single-channel HD video players and A/V Binloop HD multi-channel synchronous video players to replace the Center’s outdated proprietary servers and playback equipment.
The company had used Alcorn McBride gear in the Kentucky Science Center. At the Ali Center, Video Solutions “built a control layer that turns the whole museum into a one-button operation, which can be customized for special events,” says Little.
A/V Binloop HD players are used in the If You Can Dream Orientation Theater, Lighting the Way Theater and for The Greatest film, all of which require synchronous playback of content on multiple screens.
Digital video machines are deployed for the six stations featuring Ali All the Time content on-demand. They are also used in the shadow boxing and Laili Ali portions of Train With Ali and to show a film about photographer Bingham in the gallery named for him.
In addition, “virtually all the digital exhibit stations in the core pavilions that were server-based are now Alcorn McBride-based with either DVM8500 HD player or A/V Binloop HDs,” says Little.