Faith and Fact in Perfect Harmony: MediaMerge and the John Paul II Eucharistic Center

Posted on Apr 25, 2022 1:20:43 PM

The worlds of museum and church AVL rarely collide, but MediaMerge faced this exact challenge at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament’s John Paul II Eucharistic Center. The John Paul II Eucharistic Center is an interactive tour for visitors of all faiths to learn and understand the Catholic belief of the Holy Eucharist. 

The team's goal was to integrate audio, video, and lighting effects into the Center in a way that would both inform the knowledge seeker and inspire the pilgrim.

The Sound of Faith

The Eucharistic Center is filled with several inset rooms and displays that house its many exhibits. The layout is designed intentionally so that all patrons take a journey through time as they observe each exhibit.

However, this unorthodox layout introduces a tricky element into audio system design: The audio tracks need to be loud enough to be heard by visitors but not so loud that they cause a distracting bleed into the other exhibits.

MediaMerge took careful measurements of each exhibit space, aiming the speakers and tuning the frequencies of the audio equipment to be as crisp as possible without filling the exhibit with noise that would dampen the story's inspiration. The team used the same techniques and technology implemented in the Shrine’s main Chapel.

Visual drama was every bit as important as the audio presentation itself. Visitors want to hear sound systems, but seeing speakers and wires would certainly spoil the visual effect of the display.

MediaMerge implemented many techniques – from creating custom housing for speakers to hiding them within walls and behind screens – all to feed visitors information without interrupting the visual identity of the space.

The result? Clear, crisp audio that informs viewers – without any visible technology detracting from the Eucharistic Center’s subject matter.

Visualizing the Gospel

While not responsible for the creation or production of the Eucharistic Center's content, MediaMerge was responsible for installing the digital displays and projection screens to present that content. These screens would span a variety of uses and styles, and needed to be calibrated to match each exhibit’s specific needs.

For example, a projector depicting the Last Supper needed to display the image onto an arch-shaped screen. By custom tailoring a housing around the projector’s lens, MediaMerge ensured that the image fit the screen's unique shape rather than creating an unsightly overlap.

On the digital front, MediaMerge installed many displays with touchscreen functionality. Each display focuses on material about a different Saint. The interactive touchscreens allow viewers to dive deeper into whichever Biblical figure they might find interesting, with information and inspiration awaiting them with the touch of a finger.

Lighting the Way

The main role of lighting is to make sure visitors see an exhibit and absorb its information, but MediaMerge also used lighting to give the Eucharistic Center a sense of religious symbolism.

At the start of the tour, the atmospheric lighting is deliberately darker. Then, after the introduction of Jesus, the lighting appears brighter, signifying the light of Christ entering the world.

Most visitors will not consciously notice this shift, but MediaMerge’s design choices are always intentional. The team planted a subtle feeling in visitors, enhancing the Eucharistic Center’s informational messaging and changing the mood with well-placed lighting.

Seamless Control

In order to help answer questions along the way and allow time for introspection, a tour guide controls the entire experience. As they lead groups from one exhibit to the next, they can activate the pre-recorded videos and displays, drawing the attention of visitors through the exhibits and building an inspiring storyline as the tale of the Eucharist is told. This level of control allows the guides to set a unique pace for each group and completely eliminates the need to rush forward to the next exhibit or wait unnecessarily.

A Melding of Worlds

The John Paul II Eucharistic Center required an AVL system that both informed its visitors and inspired them to internalize that information. MediaMerge helped create a fusion of faith and fact, overcoming all hurdles on the project and proving that their expertise and dedication can outmatch any challenge, no matter how unique. To experience it for yourself, plan your visit today.