CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- For its fifth anniversary, the West Virginia State Museum at the Culture Center could get some Disney-like upgrades, with interactive video displays and animatronics -- possibly including a talking cardinal to serve as the museum's host and tour guide.
"The idea is to update some of the static displays," Culture and History deputy commissioner Caryn Gresham said Monday. "The museum will have been open for five years, and we have a lot of school groups and student groups that come through."
The division has put out a request for an "expression of interest" from architectural and engineering firms to update six or seven static displays to "more dynamic, potentially interactive displays."
The request calls for incorporating animatronics, mechanized movement of props and artifacts, 4-D film elements, and specialty lighting to enhance the displays.
"We have thousands of kids that are coming here each year, and we want to engage them in the museum," Gresham said of the enhancements.
Included in the bid package is a 114-page document prepared by RSL Commercial Architecture of Cincinnati outlining the proposed enhancements.
Among the proposed elements:
• An animatronic talking cardinal named "Red," who would appear at various points in the museum's "show path," serving as a tour guide.
As envisioned by RSL, visitors would be introduced to Red, perched in a tree early on in the tour. Red, like many of the proposed upgrades, would be activated when visitors pass a motion detector.
The bird would be fully animated, with moving head, neck, beak and wings.
"Consider me your own personal tour guide," Red would tell visitors, according to the proposed script. "You see, I've got a pretty good bird's-eye view from up here."
According to the RSL plans, Red would reappear at the mining town display, in a nest with a mama cardinal and chirping babies, telling visitors, "If you worked in a coal mine, you and your whole family would have lived here in a company town."