Since its opening in 1931, the Empire State Building has been a mainstay of the New York City skyline. Eighty-plus years later, the building draws more than 4 million visitors every year. Just because it’s a popular New York City attraction, however, doesn’t mean that the World’s Most Famous Office Building is resting on its laurels. In fact, it’s just the opposite, as a Multimedia Experience launched in March 2014 goes to show.
The Multimedia Experience hinges on a simple touch-screen device that’s about the size of a large cell phone. The free devices are handed out on the second floor, at the entrance to the Observatory (before getting on any elevators), along with headphones, and are meant to offer an audiovisual companion through four areas of the building.
First up (on the second floor) is a new Sustainability Exhibit, which highlights the building’s 2010 “green” retrofit; next is the Dare to Dream exhibit on the 80th floor, which goes into the construction of the building itself. Each panel of the exhibit has a corresponding component in the Multimedia Experience, whether it’s an explanation of the panel, a video showing historic footage, interviews with historians, or fun and games (like movie trivia or image galleries).
The other two areas in the app are the 86th and 102nd floor observatories; the Multimedia Experience allows users to orient themselves while on the observation decks (not so easy to do when you’re hundreds of feet up in the air!) and learn more about what they’re seeing from a bird’s-eye view.
Admission to the Observatory includes the Multimedia Experience at no additional charge. It’s well worth the few extra minutes it will take to go through the narration, games, quizzes, video and other features of the app. The device turns plain-old- information on two-dimensional panels into a lively experience that becomes more like an interactive documentary. The Multimedia Experience is recommended for impatient or fidgety kids who are easily bored. That way while mom and dad are trying to read up on the history of the building, their children can play games, watch videos, or try their hand at Empire State Building trivia via the app.
For more on the Empire State Building, read Secrets of the Empire State Building.
Empire State Building
350 Fifth Ave.
Open daily from 8am–2am