A North Buffalo company that makes exhibits for museums across the country, including the 9/11 museum in New York City, has run into some trouble with a 5-foot globe known as the Magic Planet that will be featured in the main entrance to a new Peopling of America Center on Ellis Island.
Hadley Exhibits had an agreement with a California company to provide Hadley with the high-definition, internal projection globe, along with the necessary hardware and software to display information about the global migration of people from around the world to the U.S., for the new center in the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.
The company, Global Imagination, described as the sole source of such globes at the time of the agreement more than three years ago, provided Hadley with the globe for $191,750, and Hadley paid it $180,055, pursuant to the agreement.
But the Magic Planet was not so magical. It had flaws that were never corrected, including flickering images and visible seams, according to Hadley.
So the Elmwood Avenue company has filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against Global Imagination and two of the California firm’s representatives, who Hadley said made several visits here to work on the project.
Hadley seeks repayment of the $180,055, plus interest. Once it receives the money, it promises to return the not-so-magical globe to Global, along with other equipment that Global provided.
The saga started in 2010, when Hadley entered into a contract with the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation for the fabrication and installation of exhibits for the Peopling of America Center, based on a design prepared by ESI Design of New York City.
The first phase of the center opened Oct. 28, 2011, in the historic Railroad Ticket Office on Ellis Island in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. It covers immigration patterns to the U.S. from pre-Colonial America up until the opening of the first Ellis Island Immigration Station in 1892. After a fire destroyed that building, it was replaced by the present building in 1900. The immigration facility closed in 1954, and the museum opened in 1990.
The first phase is filled with exhibits that Hadley provided, including the American Flag of Faces. The animated red, white and blue flag is filled with a montage of images of people’s families and their ancestors. Visitors can search by name to call up a photo, which will appear in the center of the flag. Family photos can be submitted and viewed online at www.FlagofFaces.org.
The second phase was supposed to open last spring, but that date had to be pushed back as a result of damage from Superstorm Sandy, which hit the East Coast in October 2012 and closed the entire immigration museum for a year. Hadley is providing exhibits for the second phase, which will focus on the immigrant experience from the closing of Ellis Island to the present. An opening date for the second phase has not been set.
The Magic Planet will be part of the Global Migration exhibit in the second phase. A dynamic, radiant globe will illustrate migration patterns throughout human history, according to museum officials. Digital video animations projected on the sphere-shaped screen will create a view of Earth with the many paths of migration illuminated across its surface.
While the globe will be prominently displayed in the center’s main entrance, it accounts for just a fraction of the total cost of Hadley’s contract with the Ellis Island Foundation, which Hadley’s lawyers and the Ellis Island Foundation declined to provide.
A few months before Hadley signed the contract on Aug. 31, 2010, the foundation sent it a letter of intent authorizing it to start work, including ordering the exhibit components from others, according to the lawsuit.
So Hadley contacted Global and asked the company for a price quotation on the 5-foot globe, along with the hardware, lenses and software to project images on it.
Global submitted its price quote. At the time it knew that the Magic Planet was to be included in Hadley’s contract with the Ellis Island Foundation and was to comply with the design specifications in the contract, the lawsuit says.
On June 30, 2010, Hadley issued its purchase order to Global. Hadley says the price quote and purchase order, together with the design specifications in the contract, constitute an agreement or subcontract between Hadley and Global.
Under the agreement, the lawsuit says, Hadley was to pay Global $115,725, and Global was to furnish the Magic Planet by Dec. 11, 2010. It says Global agreed to furnish a product “which would be fully functional to project media content onto the 5-foot globe in a consistently clear, smooth and seamless manner.”
Later, under a change order, Global agreed to provide additional items, including high-definition projectors and projector bulbs, and Hadley agreed to pay an additional amount, raising the total price to $191,750.
At Global’s request, another change order was later granted, extending the completion deadline until March 2012.
From March 2012 until February 2013, Global gave Hadley various dates for providing a fully functioning Magic Planet, but after numerous promises that the flaws would be corrected, Global failed to provide Hadley with an acceptable system, the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Buffalo last May, seeks $180,055 plus interest from each of the defendants – Global and Michael Foody and Philip Rubesin, who the suit says “appeared to be owners and/or partners of Global Imagination.”
The defendants, in their response to the lawsuit, deny most of the allegations and say Foody and Rubesin are not parties “to any alleged agreements, contracts, obligations or otherwise in their individual capacities.” They ask the court to dismiss the suit.
Justice Timothy J. Walker has ordered the defendants to respond to the plaintiff’s discovery requests for documents as the lawsuit wends its way toward trial.
Meanwhile, the Magic Planet sits in Hadley’s massive facility, awaiting a resolution of the dispute, and Hadley has hired a new subcontractor to provide a globe that works.