New York, NY – The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s newest exhibit “Impossible Conversations” features a series of imagined conversations between Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada, two Italian-born fashion designers who lived in different eras and never actually conversed. For exhibit designers, “impossible” took on another meaning: in a sound reflective gallery, these conversations would be impossible for visitors to experience with traditional speakers due to the acoustical challenges of the space. Brown Innovations made these conversations possible by introducing custom designed directional speakers to ensure the exchanges are heard clearly without overlap.
“You feel like you’re eavesdropping,” said Andrew Bolton, curator of the exhibition who coupled iconic designs by Schiaparelli and Prada with videos in which their make-believe exchanges are heard. Visitors experience a succession of different digital discussions as they walk the exhibit‘s narrow corridor.
Remarkably, none of the conversations interfere with one another. “The exhibit was designed with an incredibly challenging acoustic specification,” said Kevin Brown, head engineer at Brown Innovations. “The space has granite floors, acrylic walls, and sheet rock ceiling. I used every trick I could think of to focus sound where it needed to go.” Despite the challenges, Brown implemented a directional speaker that successfully keeps audio contained to their target zones. Check out the video below to hear a demonstration of the speaker's directionality.