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Interactive Annual 14:
The Limud Tables for the Museum at Eldridge Street
Displays great attention to the level of detail and interaction required for an engaging educational experience. Britt Miura
Engaging and elegant, a wonderful blend of interactive design and historic architecture. Bart Marable
The Limud Tables are a pair of interactive tables for the Museum at Eldridge Street in Manhattan. The museum, housed in the Eldridge Street Synagogue, was the first great house of worship built on the Lower East Side by Eastern European Jews. Taking their name from the Yiddish word for learning, the Limud Tables educate visitors about the synagogue and the historical community. Each is comprised of two components: a custom-designed wooden table and a large-format LCD display.
- Written in C++/OpenGL with proprietary interactive graphics libraries to implement sensing and display systems.
- A custom semantic wiki stores the projects 100 media elements
- Jonah Zuckerman, of CityJoinery, handcrafted the tables to exact specs.
What was the most challenging aspect of the project?
The simple fact that the museum is still a functioning house of worship put tight constraints on when we could work inside the building and when construction could take place. Many Jewish holidays occur in October and November, and during those precious days before opening, only the congregation was allowed inside. All of the interactives had to be designed so that they could be made invisible during days of worship. At the start of the project, we made a conscious design decision to make the interactives look attractive even when off.
Did the proximity of the client help during development?
The museum is about a fifteen-minute walk from our office. The fact that they were 'local' made it possible for us to complete the project in an unusually tight time frame (just under four months). We were able to work through design issues very quickly because it was easy for the museum staff to stop by our office to view software prototypes and we were able to go by the building with a measuring tape whenever necessary.
How did your relationship with the client evolve over the course of the project?
Not only was the museum responsible for providing all of the content, but it helped create the information architecture. We actually became involved with the staff about two years before the project began. In the fall of 2005, when restoration plans were underway, the museum expressed an interest in using interactivity to help tell the story of the synagogue. From that time, we consulted with them regularly to make sure that the infrastructure would be put into place to support interactivity when they were ready to begin. The project formally began in July 2007 with the mandate to have the interactives ready for the reopening December 1.
Jared Schiffman/Phillip Tiongson, creative directors
Josh Fisher/Jeffrey LeBlanc, programmers
Yaron Koren, database programmer
Kate Blackwell, graphic designer
Jonathan Seagull, 3-D designer
Martha Jackson, producer
Jonah Zuckerman, CityJoinery, contributing artist
Potion (New York, NY), project design and development
Museum at Eldridge Street, client