Samuel Slater Experience
BPI partnered with designer DMG2 to tell the story of Samuel Slater, father of the American Industrial Revolution. Through a series of immersive environments, theatrical presentations, and tactile digital interactives, guests join young Slater on his trip to America, experience the mills that he built, and meet the workers and families that ran them. Slater’s mills and money would soon build the town of Webster, Massachusetts that guests experience on a faithfully reproduced Main Street.
Visitors begin their journey aboard a ship bound from England to America in the year 1789. They meet an ambitious and very seasick Samuel Slater. The ship experience features a dimensional hologram of Slater, edge blended projections on a 40’ screen, show controlled lighting and water spray effects.
Other character-driven exhibits give visitors a glimpse into the lives of millworkers and their families. In a workers’ kitchen, visitors eavesdrop on a family dinner. On the mill floor, Slater’s son talks with an overseer about the future of the industry. And in Slater’s office, guests can touch projected objects on his work table to hear how he runs his business.
The elaborate reconstruction of Webster’s Main Street during the early 1900s includes facades of historic buildings and an immersive trolley ride. BPI wove together photos of the town, 3D animations, and green screen character reenactments along with special sound and motion effects so guests experience what it was like rumbling down the street to Webster Lake listening to a content-rich narrative.
BPI’s tactile interactive design strategy can be found throughout the experience. Visitors weave their own virtual fabric by using printed Jacquard cards and handling colorful bobbins. Guests can be photographed and featured in their own issue of the Webster Times by pulling on the printing press lever. And finally, visitors can write to a pen pal of a similar age from the 1830s providing a personal glimpse into what life was like at a mill.
The Samuel Slater Experience is truly a bit of Disney in Webster, MA.