Where did the SIGNALS Museum of Information story begin?
Forty years ago, Marc Bendickson was faced with a dilemma, his father-in-law asked him to fix a vintage radio, and he was stumped, despite his degree in Electrical Engineering. However, he made it his mission to learn and soon fell in love with vintage radios and other technological artifacts. In fact, his wife, Cheryl Bendickson eventually built him a personal collection museum in their home. Marc loved sharing his collection with his own close-knit community until others emphasized that he needed to expand his reach.
Dr. Bendickson has been collecting vintage radios, phonographs, and telephones as a hobby. He had a longstanding vision of creating a museum to uniquely highlight these artifacts, and to educate the public about communication technologies and stories of the past. But where to locate a new museum in Madison County? Should a new facility be built or was there already a building out there just waiting to take on its next special purpose in life?
The perfect spot was secured
After searching in the Huntsville/Madison municipal area, Dr. Bendickson found the perfect location: an existing single story 15,000 square foot beauty on University Drive that once held the Real Estate Row showroom for new model homes. Built in 1979, the building has hosted several different businesses over the years. Dr. Bendickson envisioned purchasing the building in 2020 for its grandest incarnation yet: the SIGNALS Museum of Information Explosion (MIE).
Since then, the Museum design and development team have been planning renovations and beginning to fill the facility with a large inventory of vintage equipment artifacts – some purchased, some donated. Renovating the building is taking some time to complete, especially with the challenges of Covid and the global supply chain backlog.
Time for a new and exciting project
The exhibit team is working hard to make the museum come to life. Determining the availability of materials and skilled labor to put it all together poses some challenges. However, the team is making strides with removing old building walls and breaking down doors to accommodate future visitor flow through the exhibit areas.
Credit to those involved in the buildout process
A large and growing cast of characters are involved in the creation of the museum. Tim Packard with Fuqua and Partners, is lead architect. Kim Mcquinn is the general contractor completing the primary buildout. John Kelton is the lead Creative Director orchestrating the layout of the many exhibits and design of the visitor experience. Finally, John Kvach, a renowned local historian, is working to incorporate stories about Alabama companies, scientists, and business leaders who contributed to the development of communication technology.
Immersive experiences will make the museum pop
Ethar, Inc., is project managing the facility and exhibit build-outs. As specialists in immersive technology, Ethar is also creating interactive Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) content. Digital interactive exhibits are being provided by Kevin Kunze with QuietPixel. Rounding out the exhibits with professional audio, visual and lighting techniques is MediaMerge, an award-winning media systems integrator from Birmingham.
All of this would not be possible without the inspiring leadership of MIE Executive Director, Dr. Marc Bendickson. If all goes well, the anticipated opening of the SIGNALS Museum of Information Explosion is Fall 2024. Stay tuned!