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Frederik Meijer Gardens Uses GIS to Coordinate Annual Holiday Exhibit

December 8, 2009

Redlands, California- The Christmas & Holiday Traditions Around the World exhibition at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan, attracts more than 80,000 guests each year. The extensive decorations, including more than 300,000 lights, are a highlight of the exhibition and take nearly three months to install. Scott Davidson, Meijer Gardens' plant records and irrigation specialist and an experienced ArcGIS user, decided to apply geographic information system (GIS) technology to streamline the process for creating and removing the seasonal exhibition.

"Tracking our time and equipment needs for the holiday display was challenging, particularly as the exhibition became more and more elaborate. But, because we had developed GIS applications for other parts of our facility, applying the technology to one of our most popular exhibits seemed obvious," says Davidson.

Originally implemented in 2003, Meijer Gardens' GIS has been used primarily to map the location of more than 3,000 trees and shrubs. In addition, more than 2,000 donor tribute items, including benches and commemorative bricks, as well as the facilities' irrigation system, have been mapped.

To map the exhibit, Davidson created a new layer in the database of archived tree data. He then added layers representing the time required to prepare and decorate the exhibit as well as its subsequent dismantling, along with the number of light strands needed for each decorated tree based on its height and diameter. Including this information in the database allows management to easily determine staffing and equipment needs for the current display and make accurate estimates for future exhibitions.

The internationally renowned Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park serves more than a half-million visitors annually and offers one of the world's most significant botanic and sculpture experiences. The 132-acre grounds feature Michigan's largest tropical conservatory, a variety of gardens, and an internationally acclaimed sculpture park.

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