Raspberry Pi Museum Kiosk

Raspberry Pi microcomputer with flashdrive installed

Raspberry Pi microcomputer with flashdrive

I got the idea for the kiosk from this tutorial about creating digital signage with WordPress and a Raspberry Pi, but felt like WordPress was more than I needed for the project I had in mind. Instead, this Pi runs feh, a command line image viewer and cataloguer.

Images are loaded onto a USB flashdrive, which is then inserted into the Pi. Any volunteer can provide a collection of images for the display. The slideshow script runs when the Pi boots up.  Slideshow is feh’s default mode with custom options including adjustable display time, auto-rotation, and borderless windows. I add captions to the images using an ImageMagick script which extracts the caption field from Picasa and appends it to the bottom of each photograph using -annotate. (Funny story: I happened to be using a Windows computer the day I was working on this. If you’re not used to using ImageMagick on Windows, you might not know you must preface each command with magick. I did not know this when I started, but I do now…)

So now every weekday morning, visitors to the Mennonite Heritage Centre in Leamington, Ontario are greeted by three things: a friendly guten tag from Walter Koop behind the desk, the aroma of freshly-brewed coffee prepared by cafe volunteers, and a slideshow of photos.

Recently, the front desk acquired a digital kiosk, consisting of a 23-inch computer monitor and a raspberry pi. A raspberry pi is a microcomputer, only slightly larger than a deck of cards. Each day, Walt Koop selects a collection of photos to feature on the kiosk; so far the most popular set is EKMHA’s collection of wedding photos spanning from the 1920s to the 1970s.

Whether they’re on their way to or from coffee, choir, or exercises in the auditorium, you can often find a group of people enjoying the display, and remembering their friends and families on their special days.

At the Heritage Centre, you’ll often find a mix of the old and the new. We’re glad to be able to share items from our collection with our visitors in this way. The archives contain many more treasures like these and we encourage visitors to come in and explore. We also welcome donations of photographs and other items. Email info@ekmha.ca for more information.

Museum visitors watching the kiosk slideshow

Museum visitors watching the kiosk slideshow

A less-technical version of this article appeared in EKMHA’s Spring 2017 newsletter.