Play Senator for a Day in an Interactive Cultural Institute
A dynamic experience in democracy: Edward M. Kennedy immersive museum powers civic education through multimedia and gaming
What will $78.4 million get you in Massachusetts? A 68,000 square-foot building designed to excite the general public about the mission, work and history of the U.S. Senate. The Edward M. Kennedy Institute is a homage to Ted Kennedy, who spent nearly 50 years in the Senate, brought to life by a mixed team of leaders in education, design, gaming and media.
The interactive cultural institute, which opened in March, is the only full-scale replica of the U.S. Senate. Inside, the centerpiece is a full-scale replica of the Senate itself: a detail-oriented clone of the chambers from the 19th-century mahogany desks to the spangled blue carpet. As a world-first, the museum offers a unique array of immersive and digitally-driven activities for museum visitors and students.
To power new education opportunities, high school students are invited to participate in the Senate Immersion Model. The program enables students to take on government official roles and participate in mock legislation, powered in-full by technology.
Each student—and visitor—is provided with a personal tablet to be used as a tour guide and voting tool. Up to 100 people can simultaneously participate in the immersive experience of debating and negotiating on contemporary and historic issues. The built-in open platform allows contributors to create and maintain relevant simulations.
The Institute houses exhibits for visitors to participate and experience the Senate’s work and history. Using their tablets, visitors can create their own Senator profile, taking on the role of a representative to explore large scale exhibits, collaborate and debate on bills with other visitors and earn badges.
With digitally-enhanced space comes new opportunities for civic education in an engaging and participatory experience; a ‘hands-on’ environment enables highly visual and collaborative activities to provide visitors with a first-hand account of civic dialogue. Suddenly public discourse seems a lot more enthralling.