On Thursday, January 13, 2011 the Computer History Museum (CHM), home to the world’s largest information technology collection, will unveil a 21st century makeover when it reopens its newly renovated building, with more than double the exhibition space, added research and education components, and a vast new digital platform.
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley’s technology corridor, and making visible the relationship between computing history and contemporary innovations, the Computer History Museum is home to the world’s most comprehensive computing collection. It is the world’s foremost institution for the research, conservation, and exhibition of the one of humankind’s greatest technologies – computers.
The Museum’s re-opening marks the successful completion of a two-year, $19 million renovation that will bring to life the remarkable story of the birth, growth, and future of computing for hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. The centerpiece of the Museum’s makeover is Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing, a sweeping, modern exhibition designed to look at every major aspect of the extraordinary history of computing—from the abacus to the smart phone, and the vital progress in between. Ten years in the making, Revolution is the product of the Museum’s professional staff collaborating with designers, content producers and more than 200 experts, pioneers and historians around the world. History of Museum 1.0 to Museum 2.0
Since 2002, the Museum has been housed in the former Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI) headquarters and executive briefing center. The project’s architectural and design changes escalate the award-winning building’s original drama by intersecting its historic use with immersive contemporary spaces that highlight the world’s largest collection of over 100,000 computing artifacts and ephemera. The Museum’s new interior design, while physically embodying CHM’s mission to serve as a vibrant historical center celebrating the spirit and history of computing and its ongoing impact on society, simultaneously increases its space for exhibitions and groundbreaking programs, including presentations by some of the world’s leading minds in computing and technology. The roots of the Museum date from the 1960s, when Gordon and Gwen Bell—with the support of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) CEO Ken Olsen—initially created an exhibit of their personal collection of computing devices in the lobby of DEC in Boston, Massachusetts.
The Computer History Museum first opened to the public in 1984 under the name of The Computer Museum. Sharing exhibition space with the Children's Museum at Museum Wharf in Boston, The Computer Museum established a history of presenting exhibitions and education programs that explored contemporary perspectives on computing culture, history, and ideas. Computer History Museum Chairman Leonard J. Shustek, then a member of the Computer Museum board, relocated the artifact collection of The Computer Museum to California’s Silicon Valley in 1999, where it was housed at a temporary location on the grounds of the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View. This temporary site will always be known as the location where the Computer History Museum was born. In 2002, the Museum moved to its current, permanent home on Shoreline Boulevard in Mountain View when the Board of Trustees authorized a $25 million bond to purchase the SGI headquarters building outright. Since its rebirth in California, the Museum has expanded its mission of preservation and collecting, including the purchase of a new 25,000 square foot artifact storage facility in Milpitas, CA. The Museum is now home to the world’s largest collection of computing history materials, with over 100,000 artifacts, objects, and ephemera ranging from ancient calculating devices to the first Google server. It draws on the availability of existing partners and financial supporters from the vast computing sector, as well as on the creativity of curators and scholars to develop immersive exhibitions, an extensive website and the Museum’s acclaimed speaker series.
The renovated 120,000 square foot Museum building offers 25,000 square feet of exhibition space, more than doubling the previous space allocated to exhibitions, allowing the Museum to greatly expand both its exhibition and programming focus. As part of the Museum’s $19 million renovation, it also increased the size and technological scope of its conservation facilities and office spaces, as well as adding new education facilities and increasing the public spaces to include a 5,000 square foot lobby that houses an orientation theater, museum store and café. The Museum’s new facilities and exhibition program offer an accessible, multi-layered approach to storytelling that suits a variety of learning styles, both on-site and online. People of all generations and backgrounds will be engaged in unexpected ways when they see how devices and software they used over the years, and use today, originally came to be. Mark Horton Architecture (MHA), the museum’s architect-of-record, is collaborating with exhibition design firm Van Sickle & Rolleri, the exhibition construction firm MAI Industries, and exhibit fabricators Exhibit Concepts Inc. The aim of the team was to produce a dynamic, contemporary design intimately connected to computing history and the museum-going experience.
“The Museum is now a space that will draw together people through the filter of the worldwide computing experience,” said John C. Hollar, Museum President and Chief Executive Officer. “Our inaugural programming and exhibition schedule, the visual spectacle of our new exhibition space and main lobby, and the opening of the world’s most innovative and immersive experience of global computing history are all part of the Computer History Museum experience. The Museum’s newly renovated facility—along with its expanded exhibition spaces, lecture series, and community programs—will assuredly add a new chapter to the exciting and rapidly growing history of the Information Age.”
MAIN LOBBY - The main lobby, a 5,000-square-foot public space, will serve as an entry to the Museum, as well as indoor/outdoor seating area for the Museum café and a gathering space for special programs. In keeping with the Museum’s mission, the lobby floor is designed to evoke the look of an oversized computer punch card, with a pattern that is coded with a message that technical visitors will be able to decode. To transition the visitor from the lobby to the exhibit space, the Museum has created an orientation theater, which sets the tone for the expansive inaugural exhibition, Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing.
EXHIBITION GALLERY – The primary building design includes 25,000 square feet of exhibition space on the ground level, including entry and exit theaters. As an international center for the preservation and research of computer history, CHM will originate exhibitions, host traveling exhibitions, and collaborate with museums from around the world to present outstanding works of innovation, objects, and installations that offer fresh perspectives and invite visitors to discover new ways of understanding computing history in a contemporary world. The 25,000-square-foot exhibition space is divided both thematically by type of computing innovation (eg, mainframes, games, mobile) and chronologically based on the date of significant innovations. A hardwood floor and curved ceiling reminiscent of an overhead wave act as a boulevard that guides the visitor through 19 galleries, each dedicated to a major theme in computer history. This exhibition gallery will allow the public the opportunity to immerse themselves in the 2,000 year history of one of the world’s most significant innovations. Offering a direct connection between the Museum’s curatorial and research roles and its role as a public institution, the expanded exhibition gallery will provide a unique view of the computing inventions and innovations that have shaped humankind’s extraordinary history over the past 2,000 years.
ORIENTATION THEATER – The Orientation Theater, which seats approximately 50 people, will be the primary entry experience for the exhibition visitor. A 10-minute movie, which explores the forces that shape invention and the impact of technology on the human experience, will create a context for the permanent exhibition. Relying on vintage footage plus interviews with pioneers and historians, and featuring objects from the Museum’s extensive collection, the orientation movie will introduce top-level exhibition themes. Ultimately, visitors will learn that the rate of development and exponential growth of computer technology are unprecedented compared to any other human invention, discovering along the way that computer history is not only a story of machines, but a fascinating story about the people behind the creation and utilization of these machines. NEW
EDUCATION FACILITIES – The expanded museum will house new education facilities that bring together visitors in a dialogue of culture, history, and the power of ideas. Located on the second floor, the education area will house programs that explore the fundamental role that computing history plays in our everyday lives and in the Museum. The 2,500 square feet of education space includes a new classroom, allowing the Museum to significantly expand its array of enriching educational programs for students, teachers, community members, families, youth, adults, and senior citizens. Available to educators by advance booking, the education facilities will feature an open resource area with an exhibition space and a relaxing atmosphere with tables, comfortable seating, and an array of resource materials allowing visitors to learn more about current exhibitions and other relevant topics.
AUDITORIUM – The 5,500-square-foot Hahn Auditorium with 400 seats will accommodate film/video, lectures, discussions, and the Museum’s acclaimed speaker series. A new speaker series, titled “Revolutionaries,” will launch in February, 2011. MUSEUM SHOP and CAFÉ – The Museum shop and café will be located within the main lobby. The 1,500 square foot Museum store, designed by MHA and one of the largest museum-related retail spaces in northern California, will support the educational mission of the Museum by offering a comprehensive selection of scholarly and popular publications. The Museum shop will also have a special focus on gifts and gadgets, and an excellent collection of computing nostalgia. The shop will be accessible through the main lobby during regular Museum hours. Adjacent the museum store, the Museum café, run by Mountain View-based Modern Taste, will offer welcoming indoor seating, with additional outdoor seating on the Museum’s terrace.
Also located on the Museum’s ground floor is a 4,500-square-foot open gallery space for additional exhibitions, as well as presentations, public programs, and private rentals.
PERMANENT EXHIBITION – The Museum’s new exhibition, Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing, tells the story of the technology, people, companies and impact of one of humankind’s greatest inventions: the computer. This immersive 25,000-square-foot exhibition covers the history of computing from the abacus to the smart phone, and features over 1,000 objects from the Museum’s rich collection alongside an array of multi-media presentations capturing the voices of the people who made the computing revolution possible. Through historical, scientific, and cultural artifacts, ephemera, prototypes, and print material, Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing will provide audiences with an engaging and dynamic forum for exploration, discussion, and debate around one of the biggest innovations of all time.
Comprised of 19 galleries, an orientation theater, an exit theater, three mini- theaters and 100 individual multi-media stations, Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing, is a one-of-a-kind, large-scale exhibition containing a full range of immersive visitor experiences. Each of the 19 galleries is a themed mini-exhibition that will cover a particular subject on the evolution of computing. At center stage within each gallery is a single icon – a heroic object symbolic of the gallery’s focus.
In addition to the museum’s world-class collection, visitors will enjoy dramatic graphics, hands-on displays, period settings, machine demonstrations, and direct interaction with the Museum’s knowledgeable docents. Among the 100 multi-media stations, visitors will hear stories from the people who pioneered the computer revolution, watch vintage footage, and explore breakthrough technological concepts through animations and hands-on exhibits.
Central to the Museum’s mission is its ability to reach audiences beyond its physical space. Unveiling in March 2011, shortly after the physical launch of Revolution, is its vast cyber-exhibition, Revolution Online, which is poised to become one of the world’s leading resources for research, information, and education on the history of computing. Every aspect of Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing in its physical onsite form will be executed digitally online at www.computerhistory.org. In fact, while only 2% of the Museum’s vast collection is on view in the physical exhibit, 75% will be available online.
Revolution Online in its entirety is a deeply immersive, authoritative, media-rich and easily navigable experience created through the contextual placement of landmark events in computing history via timelines, interactive applications, imagery, and extensive video resources. Additionally, research materials, digital access to the Museum’s collection, and digital versions of past exhibits not found in the current physical exhibition will be part of the new web experience. Revolution Online will, over time, become the Museum’s main platform for cross-media efforts and its global history-telling projects.
Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing is organized by the Museum under the direction of Kirstin Tashev, Vice President of Collections and Exhibitions. This permanent exhibition will be the first in a series of future exhibition projects that examine the contemporary relevance of computing history from a variety of scientific, historic, and cultural perspectives.
Revolution is funded by a large community of supporters. All $19 million for CHM’s renovation and the creation of Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing came from private donations to the Museum as part of a comprehensive $125 million capital campaign, which has raised $93 million since 2000. This exhibitition was made possible through the generosity of William H. Gates III, and dozens of other private donors have made supporting financial contributions.
In early 2011, the Computer History Museum will kick-off a companion speaker series to the Revolution exhibit, called "Revolutionaries," which will feature live conversations with some of the most distinguished executives and thinkers in the computing field.
In addition to the “Revolutionaries” speaker series, each month in the Hahn Auditorium, the Museum will host a series of lectures, debates, and roundtables, allowing Bay Area residents to listen to the some of the world’s leading voices in contemporary computing history. All Museum events are recorded and posted to the Museum’s extensive YouTube channel for the benefit of virtual visitors worldwide.
The museum also hosts the annual Fellows Awards. This April 30, 2011 the Museum will host the 12th Annual Fellows Awards, where a “who’s who” of the technology world will assemble at the museum for a banquet and ceremony to honor those industry leaders who have forever changed the world with their accomplishments.
The Computer History Museum is led by President and Chief Executive Officer John C. Hollar. Leonard Shustek serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees.
John Hollar has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of CHM since 2008. With more than 30 years of expertise in founding, launching, and growing award-winning, multi-platform content companies around the world, including founding PBS's Internet and digital media group, John is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Museum, for guiding the Museum’s vision, and for overseeing the building expansion plan and an intensive 15-month fundraising campaign from 2008 to early 2010 to enable the Museum’s renovation. Under his leadership, the Museum has grown to be an innovator in multi-platform exhibitions and programs. He has been instrumental in adding educational and research dimensions to the museum, guiding the Museum’s capital campaign, and shaping the design of the new facility, including working in a close collaborative relationship with architects MHA, exhibit designer Van Sickle & Rolleri and building contractor MAI to ensure the needs of the Museum are met.
Dr. Leonard J. Shustek is Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Len was co-founder of the pioneering networking company Network General and has served on the faculties of Stanford University and Carnegie Mellon University. He also has acted as chief curator in the development of the content plan for Revolution.
Kirsten Tashev is Vice President of Collections & Exhibitions and has led the Revolution exhibition project’s development over the past ten years. Kirsten brings extensive experience in museum exhibit design and interpretive visitor experience planning. Under her direction, the new exhibition has been developed to appeal to a variety of visitors and backgrounds using the latest exhibition technology and understanding of museum learning environments. She has directed and worked closely with the Museum’s curatorial team to develop an exhibition that is authoritative, accessible and engaging. Revolution is the first in a series of exhibition projects under her direction that examine the contemporary relevance of computing history from a variety of scientific, historic, and cultural perspectives.
Gary Matsushita is CHM’s Vice President of Operations and has directed all construction and modification of the Museum’s Shoreline facility as an integral part of the project. Prior to joining the Museum, Gary served as the Worldwide Director of Real Estate & Facilities for OpenTV, Inc., a San Francisco-based interactive television software provider. Prior to that, he was Senior Manager of Facilities for Apple Computer, Inc.
Bob Sanguedolce is CHM’s Vice President of Technology. Bob manages the diverse technology and media production needs of the Museum's expanding community of visitors, members, staff, and volunteers. Leading the Computer History Museum's Technology team, he is responsible for designing, developing, and implementing a total web, media and systems strategy for the Museum. A major element of that strategy is bringing the Museum's exhibits and collections online, including Revolution Online, launching in March at www.ComputerHistory.org . Before joining the Computer History Museum in 2006, Bob was with eBay, Inc. as VP and Chief Information Officer (CIO) during eBay's explosive growth.
Dag Spicer is CHM's Senior Curator and is responsible for creating the intellectual frameworks and interpretive schema of the Museum's various programs and exhibitions. He also leads the Museum's strategic direction relating to its collection of computer artifacts, films, documents, software, and ephemera--the largest collection of computers and related materials in the world. Dag also undertakes research for legal and commercial intellectual property specialists and writes on computer history for various media and scholarly organizations. Since he began in 1996, he has given hundreds of interviews with major news organizations and is recognized internationally as a subject matter expert in the field.
As Director of Education, Lauren Silver leads the training of a new team of more than 40 docents as well as guiding the educational aspects of the physical and digital exhibit. Lauren joined the Museum in early 2009 with the goal to build a comprehensive educational program that will make the Museum and its resources accessible for and responsive to all who seek to explore the ongoing history of computers and their impact on the way we live, work, think, and play. Lauren oversees the development of all education programs and materials. She has a Ph.D. in developmental psychology; her background includes over 20 years of experience in a wide range of educational settings, ranging from schools to universities and museums. Prior to joining the Museum, she worked at Stanford University, serving both as Associate Curator for Education at the Cantor Arts Center and as a Lecturer in the School of Education’s Teacher Education Program. Before that, she served as Education Specialist for Family Audiences at The J. Paul Getty Museum.
As a measure of its commitment to the immersive museum experience, the Museum hired an impressive team of architects, designers and contractors. The lead architect for renovation of the public space is the award-winning firm of Mark Horton / Architecture of San Francisco, whose other current projects include the House of Air at San Francisco’s Crissy Field.
The designer of the Revolution is Van Sickle & Rolleri, an award-winning designer of immersive museum environments. VS&R is based in Medford, New Jersey.
Exhibit Concepts, Inc., an award-winning exhibit fabricator based in Dayton, Ohio, is the lead firm constructing the physical exhibition spaces in Revolution. ECI’s recent projects include the National Museum of the Pacific War and the BB King Museum & Delta Interpretive Center.
LEED-accredited MAI Industries of San Jose is the general contractor. MAI Industries collaborated closely with VS&R and ECI to execute the new interior design of the exhibition space and the Museum’s new public spaces. MAI’s related projects include technology industry leaders Yahoo, Google, and Oracle.
The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. is a nonprofit organization with a four-decade history as the world’s leading institution exploring the history of computing and its ongoing impact on society. The Museum is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of computer history, and is home to the largest international collection of computing artifacts in the world, encompassing computer hardware, software, documentation, ephemera, photographs, and moving images. The Museum brings computer history to life through an acclaimed speaker series, dynamic website, onsite tours, and physical and online exhibits.
Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing, its new permanent exhibition, and the grand re-opening of the newly designed Computer History Museum open January 13, 2011. Extended opening weekend hours are 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Thursday, January 13 – Monday, January 17, 2011. More information about Revolution can be found at http://computerhistory.org/revolution and images are available at http://www.computerhistory.org/press/gallery/.
Regular museum visitor hours are Wednesday – Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 5 p.m. The museum café will be open daily: Monday - Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. General Admission tickets are $15.00; Seniors (65 yrs+), Students with ID (13 yrs+), and Active Military w/ ID are $12.00; Members and Children 12 & under are free.