Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries
Retracing the path from Pearl Harbor
After the successful completion of Road to Berlin: European Theater Galleries for The National WWII Museum, Solomon Group brought its magic to the next level. Literally.
The second floor of the museum’s Campaigns of Courage Pavilion would offer visitors a sister exhibition titled, Road to Tokyo: Pacific Theater Galleries. It aimed to retrace the brutal trail that American-led Allied forces took from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo Bay. And, at 10,300 sq. ft. of exhibit space, it proved an even bigger undertaking than its companion exhibit downstairs.
As before, Solomon Group was brought onboard to provide exhibit fabrication, lighting and audio-visual integration services for the exhibit’s many immersive environments. Additionally, all graphic elements for Road to Tokyo were produced by our in-house graphics department, The Print Shop at Solomon Group.
Once again, the authenticity of the materials used to fabricate the exhibition was crucial to the museum. Each gallery needed to look, smell and feel like the varied environments that the designers had envisioned -- whether it was the bridge of a famous aircraft carrier or the palm jungles of Guadalcanal. Together with 1220 Exhibits, Solomon Group built the physical environments for 10 distinct galleries, which required carefully marrying the project’s rough rock and scenic landform elements, with the perfect lines and edges of artifact cases and exhibit graphics.
Road to Tokyo posed several, unique challenges for our staff. With no freight elevator available on-site, our team helped literally open up one of the building’s outside walls and set up scaffolding so that larger exhibit pieces and materials could be brought up to the second floor. Inside, the nearly 38-foot high ceilings throughout much of the exhibit space required our team to overcome several logistical issues that affected the lighting, audio and digital projection systems. And, working on a major construction project upstairs from an exhibit crowded with visitors meant complying with noise and other restrictions throughout the day.
One interesting piece for Road to Tokyo that stretched our design and machining capabilities involved a topographical map needed for the exhibit’s China-Burma-India gallery. After hours of research, our draftsmen utilized multiple programs to stitch together over 1000 individual graphic “tiles” containing imagery and data. The massive CAD file was then sent to one of our CNC routers, which spent 16 hours cutting the map out of high density urethane (see a time-lapsed video of it here). After three layers of resin were applied to the 3D model, it was painted and finished to match all of the 2D maps throughout Road to Tokyo.
The exhibition’s audio-visual integration scope required a highly-skilled and diverse team with the knowledge and experience to manage the structural, IT and programming work that was necessary. Road to Tokyo includes 14 projectors, 13 touch screen displays, five 80-inch LED monitors and nearly 300 theatrical lighting fixtures of all sizes.
Several WWII veterans and VIPs attended the exhibit’s grand opening on December 11, 2015. Guests included US Marine veteran Cpl. Robert Ray Akins, who is honored in one of the exhibit galleries. Mr. Akins was joined at the celebration by his grandson, Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints.
Photos courtesy of The National WWII Museum.
What We did
- Scenic Fabrication + Finishing
- Audio-Visual Systems Design + Integration
- Graphics Production
- Exhibit Lighting
- Project Management + Consultation
- Technical Direction
- Show Control System Design + Programming
- Installation + Maintenance