Exploring the past with the latest technology

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Column by Ben Sheroan, editor

By Ben Sheroan

Like walking through the pages of time, history museums hold a special attraction.

Family members who travel with me don’t always share my willingness to read every panel and examine each exhibit. It often adds unwanted time to a trip.

Going up in the arch in St. Louis? Expect a diversion into the museum inside its base that chronicles America’s western migration. Got plans for a Nashville weekend? Don’t mention The Hermitage or the Country Music Hall of Fame because Ben’s going to want to stop.

As a teenager, my parents once gave us a chance to pick a vacation destination. The whole clan, including two very reluctant, younger sisters, spent a day in Canton, Ohio, at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. On a stop in Las Vegas en route to the Grand Canyon, I browsed through Star Trek gizmos in a display outlining the history of the future based solely on the TV series franchise.

Knowing all that, it should not be a surprise to learn that on our latest family vacation in Orlando, my agenda included time touring historic collections honoring the vision and accomplishments of Walt Disney.

Tucked away in the Hollywood Studios theme park, the exhibits chronicle the Disney family’s modest beginnings, struggles and recurrent failures, including betrayals, that would all be overcome through creativity, hard work, innovation and a popular cartoon mouse.

While it is an amazing story told well, rather than a passport to the past, this Disney collection kept sending my thoughts close to home to a recent experience.

The newly remade Gen. George Patton Museum of Leadership and it’s state-of-the-art augmented reality features provide a new quality in museum viewing. With a smartphone in hand, a visitor at Fort Knox can control and redirect their experience.

Those features were on display June 14 for the ribbon cutting that coincided with the Army’s birthday observances on post. Museum planners promise that more experiences are in the works.

It may not have acres of thrill rides surrounding it, but the Patton Museum now offers features beyond those provided by Disney’s fabled imagineers.

If you are a lover of museums, a student of the military or exploring the qualities of leadership, the new Patton Museum is worth your time. And, perhaps best of all, it’s right here and it’s free. Disney is neither.

Ben Sheroan is editor of The News-Enterprise. He can be reached at (270) 505-1764 or bsheroan@thenewsenterprise.com.