Apr 19, 2017 | By Tess
If Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World” ride turned you off of miniature representations of the world as a kid, we’re going to have to beg you to reconsider your stance. On May 9, New York City’s Times Square will officially open the doors of its newest attraction. Called Gulliver’s Gate, the new exhibition consists of a $40 million miniature model of many of the world’s landmarks and countries. The amazingly elaborate model combines traditional model making with technologies such as 3D printing.
Gulliver’s Gate, which brings together miniature models of New York City, the Eiffel Tower, the Spanish country side, the streets of London, the Panama canal, and more in a room about the size of a full football field, was conceived of by Eiran Gazit, an Israeli business consultant who specializes in model-based tourist attractions. Miniature aficionados will recognize him as being behind Jerusalem’s 14-acre “Mini Israel” attraction.
According to the entrepreneur, he was inspired to realize Gulliver’s Gate after seeing the success of the famous Miniatur Wunderland, the world's largest model railway exhibition, located in Hamburg, Germany. The tourist exhibition, which may sound niche, brings in over a million visitors a year, a fact which helped Gazit garner interest and funding for his ambitious project in New York City.
Now, with just weeks until its official opening, Gulliver’s Gate is already looking like a huge success. The amazing models, which were built at the standard train-model scale of 1:87, feature locations and landmarks from all over the world, as well as over 100,000 miniature people and many interactive and moving elements. Visitors will also be excited to look for small references and Easter eggs hidden throughout the models (here’s a hint: look to Abbey Road for a famous foursome, or to the Brooklyn Bridge for a spidery superhero).
The exhibition will also feature more than 1,000 trains, as well as an airport (still a work in progress) with planes that actually take off and fly (thanks to some clever tech). "Gulliver's Gate is both tiny and fascinating and overwhelming all at the same time," said Jason Hackett, the exhibit’s chief marketing officer. "A big theme for us is this idea of reveal and how scale can help you understand the world better.”
For a project of this scale, Gazit recruited professional model makers from all over the world, and established teams in different countries to make the models for their respective regions. For instance, a 16-person team in Brooklyn worked for nearly a year to complete the miniature New York, a 26-person team in St. Petersburg took care of the Russian landmarks, and a 15-person team in Buenos Aires managed to complete all of the Latin American models in just two months.
And while all the models adhere to the same scale, the methods of construction vary significantly. Visitors will have fun trying to figure out what elements were 3D printed and which were modeled by hand. Additionally, each miniature region features an interactive element, which visitors can activate by inserting a special golden key (embedded with an RFID sensor) into a panel.
One of the coolest things about the attraction is that visitors will also get the chance to see the work that has gone into making the models. That is, the computer command center that controls and monitors the whole exhibition will be visible to the public, and people can see the workshops and speak to the model makers about their ongoing work.
"It's not a magical place, it's a place of real transparency, from science and technology, and so the making of it is very important to us. We're never finished. We want to keep building in front of people so they can be inspired to do these things on their own,” explained Hackett.
Matthew Cote, CTO, added: ”We are not a static museum where people cycle through, look at the pretty things and walk away. We want people to ask us questions, because you're probably curious to have someone tell you how that thing works, and we'll tell you.”
Also exciting is that visitors will have the option of having themselves 3D scanned in a booth before having a tiny 3D printed model of themselves made. The 3D scanning tech consists of a photogrammetry booth with 128 Cannon DSLR cameras. Taking advantage of this feature and adding the mini 3D printed selfie to the exhibit will cost visitors $44.
As mentioned, Gulliver’s Gate will officially open on May 9, 2017 and tickets will cost $27 (kids) and $36 (adults). Currently, the exhibition is open as a preview, which will only cost visitors $25 a ticket.
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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