A new museum experience will be narrated by Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
The Lucy Desi Center for Comedy has added an audio guide tour to the existing attractions at the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum. The project will launch during Lucy Fest, Aug. 1-5.
Spearheading the project is Journey Gunderson, executive director of the Lucy Desi Center for Comedy. Gunderson felt that the tour needed an update that would compliment the existing experience at the museum.
"I noticed that when I brought my friends, family or colleagues here that I ended up narrating the tour for them to make sure they got the highlights of the legacy," said Gunderson. "So, I figured that (an audio tour) would be a good way to invest in the attraction, and take it up a notch."
The project was made possible through a grant written by Gunderson to the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation. The CRCF matched the $10,000 that the Lucy Desi Center put forward for a total of $20,000. Gunderson then commissioned renowned exhibit designer David Weiss to oversee the production and installation of the new audio tour. The project was a collaborative effort between the production efforts of Desilu, Too and Weiss.
Weiss' resume includes the world-touring "Harry Potter" and "Chronicles of Narnia" exhibitions, "Jurassic Park: Singapore," and NASA's "Space: A Journey to Our Future" among other educational, immersive and entertaining experiences in museums, theme parks and destinations worldwide. Weiss frequently works with Jack Rouse Associates, one of the most well-known exhibit design studios in the world.
"He came and toured the museum, took video of everything and layed out the plan for the guide," said Gunderson. "Then he said, 'It would be very cool if we could get Lucie Arnaz' (to narrate)."
Gunderson contacted Arnaz to ask if she'd be on board, and she quickly agreed to take part. Author Elisabeth Edwards also got involved, and according to Gunderson, she brought the story together in a way that made it exponentially more special and insightful.
"It ended up that she put it in her own words, which made it so much more valuable," said Gunderson. "She was telling us things in the script that we wouldn't have known otherwise. So, to have the ability to walk through the attraction narrated by the daughter of two of the most famous people ever to have lived is pretty cool."
According to Gunderson, the experience hasn't changed in a dramatic way, but is more of an addition to something that was already a gem of an attraction.
"It brings it to life," said Gunderson. "We get people in all the time who say they didn't even know they (Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz) were married in real life. Or, that Desilu Studios produced "Star Trek," "Mission Impossible," and "The Andy Griffith Show." Those are things we don't want people to miss, and now we can tell them in the story."
The audio tour also allows guests to engage at the level they want to based on how much time they have. Guests will be given a handheld device that holds a series of audio cues which flow through the whole attraction. Or, they can opt not to use it at all. But, for those who do, a total of 26 audio queues are available with a wealth of information to discover.
"When you're ready you can listen to the chunk of the recording that has information which otherwise is not here, or is five paragraphs deep on a panel that people don't read," said Gunderson. "I think it will connect the dots for people that are not already super aware of the legacy, and I'm excited about it."
In addition to narrating the audio tour guides, Arnaz will be the musical host at the comedy showcase which includes Tammy Pescatelli, on Friday, Aug. 3. Tickets are on sale at LucyComedyFest.com.
For a tax-deductible donation of $100, fans and supporters can enjoy the unique opportunity to attend a reception with Arnaz held in the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum immediately following the Friday show. The reception will begin at 10:30 p.m. at 10 W. Third St., and tickets are available at 484-0800 or LucyComedyFest.com.
The Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum and Desilu Studios are open seven days a week, Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.