d&b's acoustic solutions at the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television
Since opening in 1983, Bradford's National Museum of Photography, Film & Television (NMPFT) has gained international recognition for its work as well as becoming the most popular national museum outside London with visitor figures regularly exceeding 800,000 per year. Part of the National Museum of Science and Industry, the NMPFT has an eclectic mix of interactive displays covering the three media subjects of its title and a busy calendar of special events such as film festivals and temporary exhibitions. It also has an IMAX cinema (for many years, the only one in the UK) and the world's only publicly accessible Cinerama cinema. It is the custodian of many unique collections of images such as the Daily Herald Collection and the internationally important Royal Photographic Society Collection to name but two.
In 1996, the museum embarked on an ambitious program of expansion and refurbishment called Imaging Frontiers to meet changing visitor expectations and to make the most of the challenges of the digital age. Funded by the Arts and Heritage Lotteries, the European Community and the private sector, the sixteen million pound project lasted almost three years and actor Pierce Brosnan opened the new larger museum in the spring of 1999. Originally built as a theatre by Bradford City Council, but never used as such, the five storey high building had a glass frontage that dominated the centre of Bradford. "During the expansion, the entire front wall of the building was moved forward by several feet to produce an impressive atrium foyer which is used for exhibition launches, corporate events and other public and private functions," said the Museum's Senior Curator of Television, John Trenouth, "and this is when we began to have acoustic problems. We now had a five storey high space with one massive glass outer wall, a half glass and half hard surface roof, an inner sandstone wall and an Italian marble floor and consequently the acoustics were a complete nightmare."
Good acoustics were vital for the area. The Museum plays host to a variety of famous media personalities in the course of its events program many of whom address the Museum's guests as part of opening ceremonies, interviews or master classes. Greg Dyke, Jenny Agutter and Jean Simmons have all attended functions and used the PA system. "Clearly these people are used to top quality sound reproduction; we wanted top quality sound and had to do something to solve the problems. The area looked terrific but the sound quality, especially for a national museum devoted to media and communications, was completely unacceptable," continued Trenouth. From his knowledge and experience of theatre work, Trenouth knew of the quality of sound d&b audiotechnik PA systems could produce and decided that 'only the best would do'. The Museum's technical team designed and installed a PA system using d&b E3s and E-PAC amplifiers. The equipment was supplied by Bradford based company Pro Audio Systems which has worked with the museum for many years. "The result was quite astounding," said a delighted Trenouth. "We now not only have a wonderful atrium foyer, but a PA system to match."
The Museum's Pictureville Cinema, capable of showing films in Cinerama format, is also used by the museum for a range of special events and presentations. "While it has its own very good sound system for films, the separate PA system for speech left a great deal to be desired," said Trenouth. "So when money became available, we jumped at the chance to improve it and once more designed and installed a system using d&b E3s and E-PACs and we're really pleased with the results."
The Museum played host to the 12th Bradford Film Festival that took place in March, which was attended by a host of some of the cinemas best-known actors and directors. Media personalities such as Eric Sykes, Ken Loach and Malcolm McDowell were interviewed live during the Festival.