New Grand Coulee Dam exhibit opens this weekend

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GRAND COULEE — A new virtual reality exhibit will give viewers a look at Grand Coulee Dam from angles they don't normally see. The new video will premiere Memorial Day weekend at the dam's visitor center.

The video, five minutes in length, uses drone technology – and access into parts of the facility that don't allow visitors – to tell the story of hydropower generation in general and the Grand Coulee Dam in particular. Viewers can look inside the third powerhouse, one of the largest in the world, and fly along with a drone along the top of the dam.

Visitors get a look inside the penstocks, which direct the flow of water to the turbines, the turbine shaft in operation, the insides of a turbine undergoing maintenance. The video will include drone footage across the top of the dam, along the road that traverses it, “all the way down the 5,000-foot-long (dam) face,” said a press release announcing the new exhibit.

“Grand Coulee Dam is one of the most fascinating facilities in the country, but high security, the extremely loud volume of operation and other physical barriers make it hard to experience live,” said Rachel Lanham, chief operating officer of Pixvana, the company that designed the video platform. “The opportunity lent itself perfectly to the virtual reality medium.”

Headsets will allow visitors to look at places usually unseen by visitors, on a virtual reality platform, Lanham said. The headsets allow people to watch the video without worrying about the technology, she said.

The video was produced by the Big Power Project video company.

Cheryl Schweizer can be reached via email at education@columbiabasinherald.com.

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