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Tech Museum Receives Federal Appropriation

Press Release Date 
Thursday, March 6, 2003

The Tech Museum of Innovation announced today that Congress has enacted Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren's request for funding under the Consolidated Appropriations Resolution for fiscal year 2003. The Tech will receive $90,000 for the development of its Virtual Science Theater, funded by October 1, 2003. This is the first such federal appropriation that The Tech has received since opening in 1990. "This Virtual Science Theater will ignite the imaginations of our children," said Peter Giles, The Tech's President and CEO. "Not only will they learn about the world around them, but also be able to visualize and experience amazingly complicated processes simplified using the latest technology and scientific data." "These funds represent a significant development by the federal government to recognize the importance of The Tech, and the contributions of Silicon Valley to our country," said Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren. "The federal government has a responsibility to help develop important resources like The Tech." "Innovation and imagination are the foundation of both Silicon Valley and The Tech Museum," said San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales. "I'm delighted The Tech is getting federal recognition and support for teaching and inspiring our children about technology that will build our nation's future." The Virtual Science Theater, a concept created by SGI as part of its family of Reality Center facilities and supported by museums around the world, will provide Tech visitors the powerful experience of interacting with dynamically refreshed virtual reality content, using cutting edge scientific data drawn from research facilities and scientists around the world. Real time, life like simulations will give visitors the impression of being fully immersed in an environment.

Using the latest scientific data, visualization tools and interfaces, the Virtual Science Theater allows visitors to literally fly through seamless virtual worlds exploring everything from DNA creation to the edge of the physical universe. Visitors will not only watch, but also participate "virtually" in medical operations, space station tours, the latest human body visualizations and a unique look at the Earth Status Globe. The Virtual Science Theater will also allow The Tech to join the Virtual Science Network, an international alliance of museums, science centers and research organizations created to transform leading scientific discoveries into compelling visual experiences for the general public. The Glasgow Science Center, Technology Museum of Vienna, San Diego Supercomputer Center, Lockheed Martin and the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum are among the Network's members. The $90,000 appropriation will cover the cost of a temporary prototype of the Virtual Science Theater. Powered by SGI technologies, the theater features a state-of-the-art SGI® Onyx® visualization system with an Infinite Reality4™ graphics subsystem, along with three high-resolution projectors focused on a custom-made, immersive curved screen.

"This appropriation is very significant for The Tech, as it merges the worlds of science discovery and science education, using the latest immersive real-time medium. Making this facility available to the public--and in the heart of Silicon Valley at that--is even more propitious," explained Afshad Mistri, marketing manager for Advanced Visualization, SGI. Located in downtown San Jose, CA, The Tech Museum of Innovation, a non-profit organization, engages people of all ages and backgrounds in exploring and experiencing the technologies affecting their lives and aims to inspire the young to become innovators in the technologies of the future. With over 250 hands-on exhibits, an IMAX Dome Theater, weekend workshops, summer camps, community outreach programs, Tech Challenge and Tech Awards, The Tech has inspired more than 5 million visitors since opening the doors to its first facility in 1990. For more information, visit or call (408) 294-TECH. -30-