The Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum in the Grout Museum District in Waterloo, Iowa, partnered with Ideum and our Creative Services team to develop three immersive, engaging and meaningful permanent interactive exhibits. These displays not only refresh the Vietnam War exhibition space, they also provide the opportunity to present novel approaches and perspectives on the Iowan War experience. The trio of exhibits create a complete narrative, which introduces and honors Iowa’s 853 fallen Vietnam soldiers, engages visitors with a dynamic experience that brings an authentic Huey helicopter to life, and contextualizes the War with a captivating interactive timeline. In total, this suite of exhibits facilitates personal and meaningful connections; visitors can thoughtfully engage, learn, and reflect.
Faces to Go with Names: Visitors are drawn to the Vietnam War exhibits by an expansive vertically-oriented 65” 4K UHD Ideum Presenter multitouch wall that streams seemingly endless images of soldiers in uniform: the Faces to Go With Names Exhibit. A crowdsourcing project that began in 2013 by Tom Brickman, the Sullivan Brothers Museum collected images of each of Iowa’s 853 fallen Vietnam War heros and is actively collecting and adding biographical information. Once in front of the screen, the visitor literally comes face to face with the fallen and is overcome by the sheer numbers of individuals. The stream of images are rendered as etchings, which speak to the Vietnam Memorial in DC, and when one is selected and tapped an actual photo of the soldier appears at life size and at eye level within a plaque picture frame. The clarity of the image and the proximity of the space creates a personal connection with the image: it’s like meeting him in person. You can look him in the eyes, greet him, thank him for his service. Ideum created a previous version of this exhibit, which was displayed in the temporary 365 & Counting: Iowans in the Vietnam War exhibit at The Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veteran’s Museum. Exhibit updates include an editable biography for each soldier, which includes his name, rank, and when available, his history and story as it pertains to the Vietnam War and his Iowan roots. In addition, visitors can create a rubbing and print a commemorative card with the soldier’s information. This incredibly meaningful memento serves as a reminder of their visit, and the connection they had with one of the soldiers.
The Vietnam Timeline: The Conex box–a storage container that shipped supplies overseas during the war, and was later used as storage and living space on bases–was reinterpreted as a mini-interactive theater to help tell the story of the Vietnam War through the eyes of Iowans. Visitors travel through the important events of the War through the use of a digitized, multitouch, interactive timeline, which which triggers projected content and imagery on the back wall of the Conex box. The Conex box becomes the portal into the history of the Vietnam War, where stories and timelines are spun together, and pull the visitor into the narratives and content more directly and personally. Working with the existing exhibit infrastructure, this exhibit required custom hardware solutions. Ideum’s Creative Services team produced this exhibit with a bespoke multitouch reading rail and projection system.
The Huey Interactive: “The Huey” exhibit is centered around an authentic Bell UH-1 Iroquois helicopter, itself a Vietnam veteran and icon of the War. A specially crafted interactive kiosk displays two visually compelling stories about the Huey helicopter, one focused on the role of the helicopter in the larger context of the Vietnam War and the second focused more directly on the helicopter installed in the exhibit space. The animated stories of the Huey helicopter describe the historical use of the helicopter during the war, from combat missions to medivac. The helicopter installed in the exhibit space flew numerous missions and carried many soldiers to safety. The interactive kiosk gives users the ability to see and learn about these stories, while referencing the real machine in front of them.