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Interactive technology bringing SC museum alive

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 3, 2014 at 10:21 am •  Published: August 3, 2014

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (AP) — From a simulated flight around the moon to the chaos in the gun turret of a destroyer fending off World War II kamikaze attacks, interactive technology is bringing to life what once were staid, static museum displays at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.

The aircraft carrier USS Yorktown, the World War II destroyer Laffey and the Cold War era submarine Clamagore are moored at the state museum on Charleston Harbor. The museum is also home to the Medal of Honor Museum, an exhibit recreating a Vietnam War river support base and a memorial to Cold War submariners.

But for almost 40 years, Patriots Point showed its vessels and other attractions much as most museums did — static displays and pictures with plaques explaining what visitors were seeing.

Then, about 18 months ago, the museum unveiled a master plan to spend upward to $5 million to make exhibits more interactive, draw more visitors and make history more relevant to a technologically savvy younger generation.

"We have wonderful artifacts in the Yorktown, the Laffey and the Clamagore," said Mac Burdette, the museum's executive director. "But this is a very competitive industry and you have to have a better platform than your neighbor or people are going to choose to spend their $20 somewhere else."

He said attracting more visitors is key to the survival of the museum where, during the next two decades, the Yorktown alone is expected to need $80 million in maintenance work.

A look at recent developments and future plans:

Flight to the Moon

As of last month, visitors can experience a flight around the moon amid film footage and radio communications from the December 1968 Apollo 8 mission in a replica of the capsule where seats rumble on takeoff and shake upon splashdown. The Yorktown recovered Apollo 8 from the Pacific.

War in the Pacific

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