Using immersive storytelling and cutting-edge technology, the Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum (AEHM) creates an exciting and educational experience for visitors of all ages. The first-of-its-kind exhibit explores Amelia’s pioneering legacy amid the Art Deco era and early years of flight through physical displays, digital interactives and hands-on learning.
Not only is the museum immersive and inspiring, but it’s also historically accurate and educational with an emphasis on STEM disciplines. The experience was intentionally designed to engage students, particularly those in rural communities while meeting National and Kansas Curriculums and Missouri Standards of Learning.
The experience begins with a lifelike portrayal of Amelia who greets visitors and offers a sneak peek into her adventurous life. The digital display warranted over 1,000 hours of extensive research, AI technology and computation to create. A combination of archival photos and videos paired with human talent was used to ensure this animated portrayal of Amelia was as charismatic and authentic as possible.
Inside the gallery, real-life stories, audio interactives, digital kiosks and imagery tell the comprehensive story of Amelia’s youth. Visitors can flip through a digital scrapbook, listen to accounts of her relatives using an antique telephone and get a lesson in physics by cranking the cars of a model roller coaster inspired by Amelia’s homemade version she created as a child.
“Careers” – a digital, augmented reality (AR) interactive – invites visitors to visualize themselves in the historical and modern-day professions Amelia employed to support her passion for flying. Whether choosing a pilot, nurse, fashion designer or mechanic, participants step in front of a gesture-reactive screen. Then, a digital image of their face is overlaid on a lifelike avatar that mirrors their movements and illustrates how they’d look in each uniform.
Adjacent to Careers is a timeline wall and 3D holograms showcasing the evolution and innovation of flight – all in comparison to Amelia’s life. A variety of hands-on aviation interactives are available to both educate and excite visitors. The capacitive display, accompanied by two real aircraft engines and engine pieces, allows visitors to learn how airplanes operate. When participants touch one of the mounted engine pieces, an animated illustration appears on the screen to showcase its function.
Visitors can test their mechanical eye in a gamified effort to restore Muriel – the world’s last remaining Lockheed Electra 10-E and model Amelia piloted on her final flight. Players use the prop rivet gun to hover over each blue “ice box rivet” until it turns white before moving to the next. Whoever secures the most rivets with the most precision wins.
A full-scale imitation of the Muriel cockpit equipped with real flight controls offers a real sense of Amelia’s tight flying quarters. Outside the flight deck is a Garmin G1000 avionics suite and touchscreen dashboard where visitors can browse advancements since Amelia’s era.
AEHM’s mezzanine takes visitors above the clouds and into the stars. “Amelia’s Guiding Lights” is a massive interactive ceiling element designed to unveil how Amelia’s navigator used constellations to navigate flight paths. By pressing the buttons on the table, each respective constellation will illuminate overhead among the star-studded ceiling. Visitors can also practice celestial navigation using a replica sextant, analyze different cloud and atmospheric layers and get an up-close look at authentic tools of her time.
Finally, visitors test their pilot skills in a VR flight experience. Stations include two steering yokes and VR headsets. Players embark on a lifelike flight path, piloting to either land successfully in Paris, France or reroute to Derry, Ireland. The AEHM journey concludes inside the museum’s theater, where a closing video channels the museum’s message of inspiration, dedication and perseverance.