Thea Blog

21 August 2020

Thea Awards Digital Case Studies report - Session 2: Museums

#Museums have been hard-hit in the COVID pandemic around the world, some more than others depending on location and funding variables. The second session of TEA Thea Awards Digital Case Studies was a powerful reminder of the dynamic role museums can play in community, education, and public dialogue, using the tools of great storytelling and experience design. #TEAtheas

"I’m never scared to take on a new project. Never be afraid. We just want something exceptional.
Push the boundaries, ask the questions, don’t pretend to be an expert when you’re not, get it done.
- Vicky Brown, CEO, The Cool Planet Experience

Thea Awards Digital Case Studies are presented by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), the global nonprofit membership association for the creators of compelling experiences and places. The case studies sessions explore and celebrate the recipients of TEA's prestigious, annual Thea Awards.


The three museum projects featured at this case study session are all part of the slate of 26th annual TEA Thea Awards recipients, with each jointly presented by the project owner and a member of the creative team. The moderator was Shawn McCoy of JRA.

Rena Opert, Director of Exhibits, Museum of the Bible: "We hope people will connect with the content
in whatever way resonates most for them."
  • The Cool Planet Experience in Wicklow, Ireland (Outstanding Achievement - Museum, Limited Budget) - Presenters: Vicky Brown, CEO, The Cool Planet Experience and Peter Whittaker, Director, DMW Creative Ltd. The TEA Thea Awards Committee wrote in its official comments, "The Cool Planet Experience applies impressive technology, scenic environments, theatrical lighting and effects, clever visuals and gamification to captivate guests from the moment they receive their interactive wristbands. Located in an historic estate, the experience targets schoolchildren and their families, making climate change relevant at a personal level, inspiring them to become Agents for Change and remain engaged beyond the actual visit."
  • The Hebrew Bible Experience at Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC (Outstanding Achievement, Museum Exhibit) - Presenters: Rena Opert, Director of Exhibits, Museum of the Bible and Matthew Solari, Creative Director, BRC Imagination Arts. The TEA Thea Awards Committee wrote in its official comments, "This exhibit takes museum interpretation to a high level of immersive and artistic presentation. Each room is unique in presentation format and aesthetic design - and this diversity of presentation helps keeps guests engaged and anticipatory. The sensitive treatment is combined with impressive effects and astute theatrical pacing."
  • The Fram Museum in Oslo, Norway (Outstanding Achievement, Museum Upgrade) - Presenters: Geir O. Klover, Director, The Fram Museum and Ed Cookson, Director, Sarner International. The TEA Thea Awards Committee wrote in its official comments, "The Fram Museum upgrade showcases the power of immersive storytelling to entertain and educate.Visiting the historic ship is now a multimedia, multisensory adventure. On the deck, guests begin their journey south from the frozen Arctic ice cap to the ice shelf of Antarctica. A 270-degree, panoramic screen helps create the illusion they are surrounded by raging storms and crashing waves." 
Ed Cookson, Director, Sarner International: "Museums are considered trustworthy sources of info.
It is crucial to use these tools and technologies to tell stories in amazing ways
while taking the responsibility very seriously to retain that trusted status."
Geir O. Klover, Director, The Fram Museum: "It’s important for museums, going into the future,
to be earning their own money."


Industry journalist Robert Niles wrote in Theme Park Insider, "The three projects demonstrated immersive placemaking, special effects, storytelling, and interaction — elements that most fans associate with theme park attractions but increasingly are becoming tools for education in museums, as well." Read full article

This August 20, 2020 session was the second of a seven-block Thea Awards Case Studies 2020 series produced by TEA Headquarters, running August-November. One ticket buys the whole series, available live and on-demand. The first session was the keynote showcasing Nancy Seruto, recipient of the Buzz Price Thea Award for a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements.


Matt Solari, Creative Director, BRC Imagination Arts: "Emotional engagement is how you get
that spark of curiosity or call to action. Deeper immersion into emotion and storytelling
is the future of museums, especially post COVID."


Hundreds of members of the global attractions industry are attending this #TEAdigital series of Thea Awards Case Studies, responding enthusiastically to the content and making use of the networking opportunities and tools within the digital platform. TEA Past President Roberta Perry and TEA Service Award recipient Pat MacKay, who have co-chaired TEA Case Studies Day in past years' real-life meetings, participated as hosts. 

Peter Whittaker, Director, DMW Creative Ltd.: "We knew we had to hit visitors hard
with the reality of climate change [at The Cool Planet Experience]
but be careful how shocking the exhibit was.... Sometimes the simplest solution is the best."


Each of the Thea Awards Digital Case Studies 2020 presentations is essentially a peer-learning master class - invaluable, behind-the-scenes professional development, networking and education for the themed entertainment industry. The presentations are followed by live Q&A. The platform and app are available 24/7 to ticketholders to revisit past sessions on-demand and to network in real time with other users.


Story for TEA by Judith Rubin.


See all speakers, sponsors and production credits for TEA Thea Awards Digital Case Studies


Production Credits for TEA Corporate Sponsors

  • Joe Fox, Alcorn McBride - Technical Manager
  • Ian McDaniel, Good Theory Studios - Associate Technical Manager
  • Dave Martin, DemoDave Production - Sponsorship Video Production
  • Chris Crowe, VCI Event Technology - Producer
  • Jeff Killian, VCI Event Technology - Editor
  • Nick Davies, VCI Event Technology - Editor
  • Dave DaCosta, VCI Event Technology - Technical Director
  • Jack Byers, VCI Event Technology - Event Technology Engineer
  • Becky Moore, VCI Event Technology - Event Technology Engineer

TEA Production Staff

  • Jennie Nevin - COO & Executive Producer
  • Tammie Richards - Director of Events
  • Erica Schwehr - Director of Operations, Art Direction
  • Judy Rubin - PR, Publications & Social Media
  • Christine Mack - Associate Event Producer, Help Desk
  • Christy Nakada - Marketing Associate, Help Desk
  • Alexa Esparza - Member Services, Help Desk



Posted by Judith Rubin



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