The Museum of Television’s core exhibition will be a 30,000 square foot decade-by-decade journey through TV that allows guests to explore the social impact of television programming and the reciprocal influence of American TV and popular culture.
Highly visual and interactive galleries immerse and educate guests about the humble beginnings and the limitless future potential of the television medium.
The Museum of Television’s storyline will be anchored by original objects and will be further brought to life by TV theme songs, video clips, and behind-the-scenes narratives provided by actors and artisans of each era. While it will meet the educational and outreach mandates of an accredited museum, this main gallery will also be fun, vibrant, and will encourage visitors to immerse themselves in memorable eras such as the black & white 1950s, the psychedelic 1960s, the anything goes 1970s, and others.
A time tunnel portal empowers visitors to flash back to the black & white rotary-dialed origins of America in the 1940s and the first flickering moments of broadcast television. The tunnel leads to an intro theater that will be hosted by a contemporary TV star.
Decade Gallery - The 1960s
As part of our development to date, we have accomplished the storyline narrative, the exhibit layout and corresponding conceptual artwork, interactive beats, as well as identified the pool of objects for much of the seven decade display galleries. We are including a sampling herein, the decade of the 1960s, and much more is available upon request.
When entering this and every decade exhibit gallery, a panel will feature famous TV firsts of the decade, such as Lucy’s use of the word “pregnant”; husbands and wives sharing a bed; or the censorship of Barbara Eden’s navel.
The colorful costumes of the caped crusaders and their criminal counterparts from Batman are displayed here (illustrated above) in a space reminiscent of the crime-fighter’s curvilinear cave. Interactive elements include visitors operating a panning Bat Signal; button-operated musical stingers; projected “Biffs,” “Oofs,” and “Kapows,” and an in-camera optical effect that provides an opportunity to scale a sideways building facade just like Batman and the Boy Wonder. Around the corner from the Bat Cave (and a million miles away) is a space reminiscent of the transporter room of the Starship Enterprise. Here, within casework styled like bridge consoles are originals weaponry and gadgets including a pistol phaser, a communicator and a tricorder, as well as the original ear tips of Mr. Spock from Star Trek. Three transporter tubes stand before a stylized moiré pattern backdrop, and they serve as display cases for the bridge uniforms of Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura. Control panels flanking the tubes contain the otherworldly costumes of various races of aliens featured on the series. While the universe may be multiracial, democracy, truth, and justice still prevail; and didactic panels relate Batman and Star Trek to the moralistic simplicity of the 1950s.
The central hub opposite Star Trek contains three separate alcoves. The first one presents the Doctor Shows in a kiosk evocative of a doctor’s office. The artifacts are encased under acrylic on the medical countertop and within its opened drawers, while the content text is delivered via x-rays hanging on a light box. In another alcove, the original Cone of Silence (which, ironically, provides an awesome audio delivery device) hangs over the Spy Shows display, including Agent 86’s various phones from Get Smart; and Mr. Phelps’ tape recorder from Mission: Impossible plays a short content message supported by surveillance photos and other printed props from the series.
Camouflage netting and sandbags delineate the next alcove in the hub for the War Shows artifacts, and it is here that content text from Combat, Hogan’s Heroes, and others are displayed. Point source audio embedded in the sand bags recreate the staccato rat-a-tats, tank rumbles, and distant bomb blasts of an unceasing war.
On the other side of the gallery, we first get an overview via a didactic panel with photos, text, and video about the evolution of domestic life as represented on television. In the 1960s, the boundaries of normality are pushed as shows evolve into a world of aliens, witches, and monsters; but it’s still family, and things turn out okay in the end. Beyond this explanatory panel, the gallery is organized to parallel the growing diversity of programming. These shows are separated from each other by free-standing doorways that reflect the genre of the shows behind them. The relatively “normal” costumes and artifacts from The Donna Reed Show, Gidget, and The Patty Duke Show are framed by a typical interior doorway; the wares of rural comedies The Andy Griffith Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Petticoat Junction are framed by a barn wood door; Jeannie’s costume and bottle are framed by the ornate center door; the artifacts from The Munsters appear behind a gothic stone archway, and the uniforms from Lost In Space rounds out this side of the gallery (directly across from the Star Trek transporter room on the opposite side).
In the center of the hub is a compact rattan and bamboo kiosk styled like a hut, where artifacts from Gilligan’s Island are displayed. A didactic panel explain Sherwood Schwartz’s concept that the castaways represented a microcosm of American society and how, when faced with adversity, they set aside their differences and worked together, just like all Americans.
Another gallery concentrates on the development of niche marketing as advertisers and producers begin targeting a teen audience, and some of the product characters developed with this agenda continue today, and original ephemera relating to Charlie the Tuna and others are presented here.
The Peanut Gallery, an area dedicated to the kids’ shows of the era, will pack an emotional punch at the conclusion of each decade gallery, and it is here that the likes of the gentle Captain Kangaroo, Mister Rogers, Mayor Pufnstuf, and others will hold court.
Lastly, within each decade gallery, we shine a light on Arizona’s television history, including its beloved local programs such as The Wallace and Ladmo Show; series’ that took place or were filmed in Arizona; and national TV icons that grew up in the Grand Canyon state.
At the end of our decade-by-decade journey is a wrap-up gallery where visitors can discover the few degrees of separation between TV's most enduring television concepts.
Beyond the main gallery’s decade-by-decade exploration of television, other spaces will feature modular exhibits that shed a focused light on a particular era, genre, television program, or artist. Such exhibits in development for our first and second years include:
Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show set is where newsmakers were roasted and musical acts connected with a national audience, and this exhibit affords us a reunion with the topics, attitudes, and entertainers that defined each of the four decades the program was on the air. Now, see the set from Johnny Carson’s unique perspective, and when the band plays you on, walk through his famous brightly colored curtains and try your hand at performing a monologue into a studio camera. David Letterman similarly resonated with a younger crowd, and take center stage to read one of his infamous Top Ten lists. The exhibit includes artifacts and cultural context from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Late Night with David Letterman, The Late Show with David Letterman, and Saturday Night Live.
Satellite galleries will feature exhibits that shine a focused light on a particular television genre, program, or artist. The Up Late Gallery pays homage to late-night television and features the set from The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
Whacked:The Death of Network TV Dominance
We are gathered here to pay our respects to the death of network television dominance and the rise of critically-acclaimed programming from HBO and Showtime through a selection of their death-centric shows. A green screen interactive makes you the deceased guest of honor at a Fisher & Sons funeral; a digital terminal allows you to “try on” special effects make-up that renders you the victim of mob boss Tony Soprano or vigilante serial killer Dexter Morgan; touch and taste studio blood (it’s mint flavored syrup) used on shows including True Blood; rock to the music performed on the original shows by A3, R.L. Burnside, Elvis Costello, Cream, Bob Dylan, Wyclef Jean, Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen & others; and take a trivia test created by FBI experts that debunks Hollywood myths about multiple murderers. This exhibit includes artifacts and cultural context from Six Feet Under, The Sopranos, True Blood, and Dexter.
The Bunker:The World According to Archie
Journey through the house and mind of Archie Bunker as this exhibit tributes creator Norman Lear and his programming that would forever change the way we see ourselves on television. Compare and contrast the storylines of situation comedies in 1952, 1962, 1972 and 2012, as well as the Standards & Practices established by the broadcast networks in each of these decades. Also, step into our sound booth and duet with Edith Bunker as you record your own version of the All in the Family theme song (which you can email to your friends and family). This exhibit includes artifacts and cultural context from All in the Family, Archie Bunker’s Place, The Jeffersons, Maude, Different Strokes,The Facts of Life and Fernwood 2-Night.
Pufnstuf, Pee-wee & Plex
Celebrates the way-out worlds created for kids by psychedelic producers Sid & Marty Krofft, Pee-wee Herman’s iconic alter ego Paul Reubens, and the retro-reverent Christian Jacobs and Scott Schultz. Learn about stop-motion, peg-registration, the use of miniatures, matte paintings, and other in-camera tricks used to convey these wacky, wonderful worlds. The exhibit includes artifacts and cultural context from H.R. Pufnstuf, Lidsville, Land of the Lost, Bigfoot & Wildboy, The Bugaloos, The Wonderbug, Pee-wee’s Playhouse, and Yo Gabba Gabba.
Interactive stations that incorporate the use of iPads and other current technology will further engage visitors and empower them to summons content that suits their personal interests. One of the most exciting aspects of the Museum of Television will be our ability to completely immerse visitors into the imagery, technology, and sensibility of each era of TV production. The primitive nature of earlier in-camera effects, the use of forced perspective, and other simple techniques will particularly tickle younger tech-savvy guests. Here is a sampling of interactivity that is currently in development:
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's blue screen: When actor George Reeves bravely took flight in The Adventures of Superman, maybe he wasn't all that brave. Earn your wings by flying like the man of steel (lying on your belly in a pan a few inches off the ground). Through a process then called blue screen, your live action will be incorporated into pre-shot footage of the skies over New York, then shark-infested waters. Your fifteen minutes of fame starts now (and we may show your footage on the Jumbo Tron TV outside of our building). Receive a digital copy of your performance at our gift shop;
I still dream of Jeannie: Are you still awe-struck that Jeannine could magically disappear with a single blink? And just how did the lovely Samantha summons witches & warlocks into her living room with a twitch of her nose? Learn the science behind these and other optical effects as we zap you into your favorite sit-com living rooms. Then, watch yourself as you are broken down molecularly and transported to another galaxy like the great Captain Kirk before you;
To the Bat Cave: The costumes of Batman & Robin are confidently posed deep within the chiseled rock walls of our Bat Cave alongside their gadgets and weapons. It is here that you can climb up the side of a Gotham City skyscraper just like The Dynamic Duo (who knew it was painted on the floor?), and you can take home your performance thanks to present-day video capture technology. Holy interactivity, Batman!;
Size matters: Learn how the use of miniatures, forced perspective, and camera angles create TV illusions. The original but small spacecraft from the 1960s series Voyage to the bottom of the Sea looks diminutive in our museum gallery, but it will loom largely through our camera once you cue the background footage, the bubble machine, and the special lighting that fully integrates the prop into a detailed, miniature set. Also, visit KITT, the star car from Knight Rider, but forget about riding shotgun, as it measures just two feet in length and was used for the show’s most punishing jumping stunts. Lights, camera, cue the action!;
Food for thought: How did those ice cream desserts served at Arnold’s Drive-In or the Peach Pit Diner look so great (and never melt under the hot studio lights)? Well, in Hollywood, everyone has a beauty consultant, even an ice cream sundae. Learn the behind-the-scenes secrets of how Hollywood stylists make food look delicious for camera (you may lose your appetite when you discover that fluffy scoop of vanilla ice cream is actually Crisco shortening). Also, learn what common kitchen ingredients are used to make the blood used on TV shows such as ER and True Blood;
Klingon makeover: As you probably know, wowing special effects are now computer generated, but did you also know that elaborate TV make-up is also digitally designed? Step up to our computer kiosk and we will grab a digital image of your face, allowing you to try on different science fiction make-up that will not be alien to anyone who tuned in to Star Trek over the past fifty years. Then, boldly go to our gift shop, and have your monster mug printed onto a coffee mug; and
I will survive: You’re a survivor. Fear is no factor, and you think you’ve got what it takes to be a contestant on a TV reality show. Then, take our Discovery Channel touch screen survival test and learn if you should suck out snake venom, squeeze a leech, make eye contact with a bear, or swim away from a shark (if you answered yes to any of these, you're as good as dead, mate). Also, learn how to survive a tornado, a Tsunami or a volcanic eruption. Based on your score, you'll know if you have what it takes to visit the Survivor island of Marquises or if you should stick to Gilligan's Island. Winners are serenaded with songs such as I'm a Survivor by Destiny's Child and I Will Survive by disco diva Gloria Gaynor.
Our facility would also like to house a script library, where students and other visitors can learn and understand how a production goes from a writer’s idea on the page to a director’s creation on the stage. The Broadcast ARTS Library is the foremost repository of scripts and related material extant, and its founder, Fuller French, is one of our Founding Board Members. We look forward to further empowering visitors by availing them of this incredible resource library; though their space requirements, personnel, and fees are not presently contemplated herein.
Our TV Treasures retail store will comprise of approximately 1,000 square feet of retail space that visitors must pass through as part of the forced exit to the final exhibition gallery. It will offer the best of commercially available licensed products, TV-centric products that we will design and manufacture, as well as a line of collectibles including “limited edition,” “original,” and “autographed” materials that the museum will conceptualize, procure, or provide. Guests who do not wish to buy a ticket to view our exhibitions can still gain access to the retail store through a separate entrance.