Patriots Point wants to bring Yorktown to life with interactive displays
Nearly 70 years ago, the aircraft carrier Yorktown helped fight the enemy and win World War II.
Now a museum ship, the centerpiece tourist attraction at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum hopes to immerse visitors in interactive displays with visual and sound effects that bring to life the static artifacts scattered throughout the 888-foot-long vessel.
The military-themed, waterfront museum in Mount Pleasant, which will see about 229,000 visitors when its fiscal year ends June 30, hopes to become a “must-see” attraction and entice more people to visit the ship known as “The Fighting Lady.”
Patriots Point has hired Musaic Design Group of Boston to come up with a first-year plan by September that will change forever the way visitors experience the Yorktown.
The group of independent designers, selected over eight other firms, assists museums and cultural attractions with interpretive planning, exhibit design, environmental graphic design and administrative help.
The entire project, including materials and construction of displays, is expected to cost $2 million over the next three or four years.
Patriots Point believes the changes are necessary because the Yorktown will turn 70 next year, and the majority of its visitors are younger.
“They expect a well-rounded experience that incorporates history with the latest technology,” said Mac Burdette, executive director of Patriots Point. “We’re reinventing ourselves.”
The state agency’s board set aside $500,000 in next year’s $9.7 million spending plan to get the process started.
“Together with Musaic, we will develop a museum experience that will tell the story of the Yorktown and her crew, the U.S. Navy and naval aviation in a way that will excite visitors and keep them coming back,” Burdette said. “This in no way changes our mission as a museum or attraction.”
Charleston hosts about 4 million visitors a year, and Patriots Point wants more of them to come to the Yorktown.
The last major thematic upgrade to the exhibits on the Yorktown occurred between 1987 and 1995 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of World War II, said David Clark, director of museum services at Patriots Point.
Musaic is interviewing key figures responsible for shaping the Yorktown’s future, including rental groups, Scouts, veterans and visitors.
“We’ll underpin design decisions by crafting experiential goals — what we expect visitors to learn, feel and do during and after their visit to the Yorktown,” said Matt Kirchman of Musaic Design Group.