This VR Exhibit Lets You Experience Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' Speech As If You Were There

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Photo: Bettmann Archive

Everyone has probably watched Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous "I Have A Dream" speech on the old, black and white, grainy film. But what if you could hear this speech as if you’re actually there?

According to USA Today, a new, high-tech exhibit in Chicago can actually make that happen.

“The March,” an exhibit at Chicago’s DuSable Museum of African American History, allows visitors to use virtual reality technologyto step into the 1963 March on Washington where King gave his iconic speech. The experience of hearing King’s words almost as if he’s standing right next to you could prove to bring a new understanding of the speech and of King himself.

King-Virtual Reality, Chicago, USA - 26 Feb 2020
In this, a visitor experiences "The March" virtual reality exhibit at the DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago ahead of the project's launch. The exhibit captures the 1963 March on Washington during which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous 'I Have a Dream' speech. Noreen Nasir/AP/Shutterstock

TIME magazine helped to create this project. “The speech is so well known and the ways people are used to seeing it is kind of archival, grainy two-dimensional film,” said Mia Tramz, an editorial director of immersive experiences at TIME to USA Today. “By being able to see it with your own two eyes and feel like you’re standing there, you not only get the message of the words but the message of the energy that he put behind those words.”

Juvee Productions, a production company owned by award-winning actress Viola Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon, also helped to create this project. Davis also provides some narration. And, according to USA Today, the project has support from the King estate.

The experience involves visitors entering a dark room and listening to audio narration from other people who were instrumental in the March on Washington, including Freedom Rider Hank Thomas. They will then don virtual reality headsets to fully immerse themselves in the events from 1963, including standing on the Lincoln Memorial only a few feet away from King himself as he locks eyes and delivers his famous speech.

“You’re not listening to it. You’re not reading it. You are actually in it. And there is a point that you’re listening to it for the first time because you’re experiencing it, because you’re actually there,” Davis said to USA Today. “It’s those experiences that are unforgettable.”

The experience itself is only 15 minutes. The exhibit officially opened on Feb. 28. Tickets for the exhibit are $14.50 for non-resident adults ($12.50 for Chicago residents), $11 for non-resident students and seniors ($9 for resident students and seniors), and is completely free if you’re a member of the museum.

For more information or to make a booking, visit the TIME website or the DuSable Museum of African American History website.

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