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E.L. Wiegand Educational Activity Center

The National Automobile Museum, Reno, NV



The National Automobile Museum has unveiled a new interactive experience for children with the grand opening of the E.L. Wiegand Educational Activity Center on June 29, 2024. Designed in collaboration with Beaudry Interactive, this state-of-the-art center aims to educate and entertain young visitors and their families through a collection of dynamic, hands-on interactive exhibits.

 

Spanning 3,000 square feet, the very structure of the Children’s Center is thoughtfully conceived to evoke the design aesthetics found in the world of cars. A road-themed floor mat that spans the entire space, posters and wayfinding devices themed as street signage, and even a giant custom-fabricated billboard feature that displays car advertisements fully immerse guests in the automotive-themed environment. Structural accents—such as the curved entry walls that greet guests as they arrive—pay homage to the National Automobile Museum’s unique curved exterior, connecting that design language to the aesthetics of the new Children’s Center. Themed seating, including a centerpiece cleverly designed as a traffic roundabout with street signs, accentuates the automotive theme while offering practical solutions for visiting families. Creative planning solutions maximize the compact footprint of the gallery through the use of thematic color-coded zones, ensuring every inch of space is utilized effectively to enhance the visitor experience by offering unique activities tailored to various age groups.


In the red zone, children can enjoy a simulated car wash, where they use their bodies to control the cleaning process, learning about car maintenance in a playful setting.


Adjacent to this is the interactive auto maintenance shop, where young visitors can act as junior mechanics, engaging with a scaled automobile to explore tire removal, engine examination, and more, fostering a deeper understanding of automotive mechanics.



The yellow zone hosts the Auto Design Studio, a creative space where kids can be inspired to design their own dream cars and display their creations on a digital billboard. This activity not only fuels creativity but also educates children on how design choices impact car performance, safety, cost and environmental effects.


In the green zone, the experience kicks into high gear as children delve into the physics of race cars. The Reno International Speedway interactive allows guests to race virtually through Reno's streets using body gestures for steering. Additionally, the build-a-race car feature lets kids construct and race their own LEGO-built cars, introducing them to the principles of physics in an engaging way they can enjoy.

 

The blue zone features the Jr. Engineering Workshop, where young visitors and their families can learn about simple and complex machines through tactile play. Using Rigamajig pieces, pulleys, and blocks, children can begin to develop a practical understanding of mechanics and engineering.


Beaudry Interactive not only developed the interactive experiences, educational content, and environmental graphics, but also designed and managed the interior design, product procurement, and spatial planning of the new center. b/i’s collaboration with the National Automobile Museum has resulted in a vibrant and modern, energetic space that adds a fresh, all-new dimension to the museum and offers fun educational experiences for visitors of all ages.



In a vibrantly diverse setting designed to engage various age groups, a blend of environmental graphics, strong theming, and educational messaging has been meticulously crafted to create areas of focus, enhance the overarching theme, and provide a cohesive environment that encapsulates the essence of the Children’s Center. The pervasive theme of motion and movement is artfully integrated throughout the space, exemplified by bold environmental graphics featuring speed lines that traverse walls, and checkerboard patterns that immerse visitors in the kinetic energy and iconography of automobiles. This sophisticated design strikes a balance between elegance and whimsy, inspiring creativity and excitement while paying homage to the museum’s historical connection to cars, as seen with the large Thomas Flyer mural framing the circular seating portals themed as its wheels inside the Auto Design Studio—a playful graphic tribute to the museum’s iconic Thomas Flyer car, which is a historic landmark. The flow and connectivity of the space are further enhanced by street-themed floor graphics that spans and unifies the area with continuous visual elements that accentuate curves and depict straightaways—encouraging movement throughout the center and contributing to the overall visual coherence of the interior design.


As children explore the center, they encounter a multitude of learning opportunities. Graphic signage within play areas inspires imaginative play, while educational posters introduce scientific principles of physics through engaging, car-themed infographics. These infographics are designed to be easily understandable for kids, utilizing bright colors, simple explanations, and captivating visuals to grab their attention and make learning about physics both accessible and enjoyable. These elements seamlessly integrate education with the world of cars, ensuring that children remain intrigued and informed throughout their visit, while having fun along the way.


To guarantee a successful experience for both visitors of the Children’s Center and its operators, Beaudry Interactive’s show control, Diva, ensures smooth operations on the backend, providing automated monitoring, startup, shutdown and reboot of hardware procedures for all digital interactives.



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