Museum of the Moving Image Site Visit

What digital experiences does the museum offer?

The Museum of the Moving Image does not offer an audio guide to the public. It also does not have an app. Due to the nature of the museum, there are typically many opportunities for interactive digital experiences within the museum. There are lots of audio/visual references that are in the galleries and supplement the content and the space. They also offer many interactive learning experiences that are digital or computer based and are free and open for all visitors to use in the galleries.

Do they provide devices or do you have to use your own?

All of the interactive devices or audio/visual tools are located within the galleries and are provided by the museum.

Who, do you think, is the intended audience for each digital component?

When I visited (mid day during the week), there were many young kids with parents using the computers and interactive devices in the galleries. During my visit, the arcade game exhibition was up and had many young visitors in the gallery and their parents. All of them seemed to be having an equally exciting experience using the games in the galleries.

What is the goal of each component?

The goal for these in-gallery components is to encourage a hands-on learning experience about movie-making and production work.

In your opinion, was it successful in attaining that goal?

I believe these components were extremely successful in attaining their goal. I used them myself with a friend and was greatly enlightened on the various aspects of movie-making and it even inspired my friend to make short films! I also saw several visitors of all ages enjoy the tools in the galleries.

 Was the content useful/interesting?

I believe the content to be entirely useful and very interesting and also curated in a perfect way. Going through a history of film and film tools, to be able to apply your skills to film making brings life to the objects in the gallery and puts yourself in the shoes of film-makers that might have brought you to the museum in the first place.

What was the user experience like?

The experience was extremely easy and very straightforward. The direction was easy to read and the set up in the gallery was easy to navigate. Even with the various tools throughout the galleries, all were created with a universal design and I observed both children and adults enjoying their experiences in groups and on their own. I also enjoyed using these tools with a friend and on my own and then comparing my experiences to the information in the galleries.

I also enjoyed in some of the text labels the visual resources that put the props from movies in context to their films. For example, the miniature set from Blade Runner was detailed with a text label that had a small video screen displaying the scene it was used in. This is a fantastic use of integration and space and encouraged me and other visitors to spend more time with the objects.

 

LIS 679 – Session 14 Blog

Social justice in museums is a topic that can be recognized recently in light of current political and social events that have challenged public dialogue on the topic. As members of a community and places of learning, museums hold a special role in contributing to discussions of social justice.

More than just exhibitions, museums now have the ability to share an immediate message and have it reach a broad audience without ever stepping foot in its physical space. Museums, especially recently, have taken to twitter to voice not only their concerns and goals, but to also reflect those voices of their communities.

 

 

Museums are constantly given the opportunity to represent diversity in the arts through the way they focus on artists, cultures, and narratives. Take, for example, the Brooklyn Museum, in one of my favorite examples of female representation in the arts. Not only does the museum have in its collection a large amount of artwork created by female artists, but it is also home to the Elizabeth A Sackler Center for Feminism and acts as a nucleus for feminist art, theory, and activism in the community where people are encouraged to visit and discuss topics of feminism and social justice.

Not only is this important as an exhibition for patrons to learn and grow in their discussion of feminist roles in society, but also as a discussion of feminist roles within museums. One of the biggest issues faced today in the museum world is the extreme lack of diversity in museum leaders. While most museum employees are female, not many of those are in leadership roles. And even more than that, what ethnicities are being represented by the majority in museum leadership? Monica Montgomery encouraged us to observe how people of color are represented as museum employees and among departments. For the most part, we see minority groups as part of the part-time, low-paying, and front-end. So where do we break the mold – do we start from the inside, the outside, or both at the same time?

If you are like me, you might like to read about the issues that affect you and your career goals. In 2015, the Andrew W Mellon Foundation ran a survey on the demographic of art museum staff (follow this link to read the survey).

Two points that are important to the previous argument on representation of minorities:

First, progress is likely to be swifter and easier on gender equality than on minority representation. As museum staff has become 60% female over the past decade or so, there is now also a preponderance of women in the curatorial, conservation, and educational roles that constitute the pipeline for leadership positions such as museum director, chief curator, and head of conservation or education. With close attention to equitable promotion and hiring practices for senior positions, art museums should be able to achieve greater gender equality in their leadership cohorts within the foreseeable future.

This sounds great and almost like female leaders can create even further change for minorities! But then…

By comparison, AAMD’s recent report found that 43% of directors themselves were women, with significant disparities in salary as well.

So, we can get the job, but we can’t get the pay? As @Nartist says in the previous tweet, “Patriarchal structure, hierarchy & pay scale =>impact POC”

As actors of social justice, how are museums representing equality and combating inequality without fetishizing the topics? These conversations museums have on social justice through networks like twitter and through exhibitions should also be represented in their actions. Visitors need a safe place to discuss these complex topics with their peers and fellow community members, because the more they get to know them, the easier it becomes to talk about them, and the better they can fight for them.

Prochia Moore exposes topics in discussing race in museums, first and foremost stating that museums do not understand the role race plays in them. How are they evaluating Critical Race Theory in the terms of examining their power in representing races? This theory has been applied as a way to examine how race is impacted on the educational system on a legal, social, economic, psychological, and policy basis. Looking at the roles of museums, she specifically encourages them to use this framework for the following:

1. How cultural heritage institutions exclude people of color as a result of the latter’s lack of participation within museum’s social media platforms.

2. The ways museum professionals privilege white cultures mores in their exhibitions or artist representation and how this might affect participation for people of color.

3. How exhibition development and curatorial authority might be perceived as a dominant narrative of whiteness. This could also contribute to an exclusion of narrative for non-whites.

After this recent election, a resurgence in these social justice movements has spread all over social media. I’m sure what felt like a moment of complete disregard for the progress we have made in museums and what we have talked for years, has just turned into an opportunity to create more conversations about what we have to do to move forward.

Days after the election, I visited the Brooklyn Museum in a lecture hosted by Shelby White and Leon Levy Director Anne Pasternak and Deputy Director and Chief Curator Nancy Spector with artist and feminist extraordinaire Marilyn Minter and friends. In what was originally going to be a discussion of female empowerment and her retrospective “Pretty Dirty” became a safe place to discuss our concerns of the idea of President Trump. This reinforces their role as a cultural and community space and reaffirming their role in social justice. Specifically, the Brooklyn Museum opened its doors for free to all visitors the days following the election results. Other took their roles within social media to tweet their thoughts using #museumsthedayafter to encourage a global discussion.

There is still a lot of work to be done in the museum profession to create social justice and reinforce safe places to discuss challenging topics. I encourage everyone to contribute to their local museum through social media and in the physical space. With your voices, the museum can do more.

LIS 679 – Session 13 Blog

Social media for cultural institutions has expanded from being part of a marketing and PR requirement to an explorative practice that allows professionals to engage with the general public and their communities. While social media hasn’t always been part of what attracts visitors to a cultural institution, today, that has become a big part of it. It is a new conversation that includes new perspectives of traditional ideas in cultural institution collections and includes conversations from the public.

We can begin observing this conversation by following the efforts of a project created by Mark Schlemmer called I Tweet Museums, which has its own hashtag and twitter profile (and now, instagram). It’s goal is to provide insider perspectives from the personal accounts of museum professionals (because they do exist!) where their explorations of collections and exhibitions can be shared.

 

By following both the hashtag and the profile, museum enthusiasts can gather research, network, and gain perspectives of museums professionals and exhibitions. Through bringing together like-minded professionals, I Tweet Museums has create a sort of “pool” that can contribute to the following purposes:

  • to share museum relevant content from personal perspectives
  • create dialogue between informal and formal groups to practice social media content sharing
  • allow audiences to join professional conversations and development
  • create visibility of museum professionals and their work

For students, using social media as a professional platform also has its many benefits. My experience in Advertising and Strategic Communication (my undergraduate minor) has prepared me for these types of conversations that are held in a very public, very open sphere. Social media is a great way to create a conversation surrounding your name. Both names, actually – your handle and your real name attached to the handle. It is literally an identity that many people have attached to their professional or potential career. Most global interactions will take place on some sort of social media platform, so it is important to create content branded to your name that is both interesting and important to your message. Some professionally based experiences for students like fellowships or internships also require their candidates to make social media posts of their work to the institution’s profile. This is an opportunity for students to share their work that might not be attached to a fellowship or internship and gain valuable feedback from the public (It’s also educational for the public!). I often use my social media platform to share blogs from my personal website that are related to pop culture, current events, art and technology so I can share my writing skills and my basic interests. From this, I have been able to share work across a boundless platform and reach audiences I wouldn’t normally be able to interact with. This establishes a social presence and lets potential employers or professional leaders get to know me without investing all efforts in the interview process that, let’s be honest, can be misleading based on the few minutes of scripted dialogue.

Mark Schlemmer (@ITweetMuseums) reminded my classmates and me of a few reasons why using social media professionally as a student is so important.

  • create professionally focused social media presence
  • to engage with other professionals and establish a name
  • to research by gathering information and generating feedback
  • to network with peers and other like-minded professionals

For some, visiting an exhibition means sharing your own experience dedicated to the platform of social media. It is an example of “I did that” or “I saw this” that encourages others to go to too. Hyperallergic shared an example from LACMA where visitors flocked just to take part in the social extravaganza. Much more recently too has been the exhibition of works by Pipilotti Rist at the New Museum where young audiences are waiting in lines to see and capture the work. Upon my recent visit, I was amazed to find just how many social posts were being captured by the audience. And I will admit, I took part in it as well.

My friend (shout out Molly!) has used twitter as a platform for publicly sharing our experience with the New Museum and, coincidentally, she also created a marketing post about the museum’s extra late Thursday hours! Audiences who read this post will learn a) Pipilottie Rist has an exhibition b) that exhibition is at the New Museum c) what the exhibition looks like d) where the museum is located and e) that the museum is open extra late. Someone should write her a check for all of that free publicity.

Though many institutions focus on social media platforms such as facebook, twitter, and instagram, there are others that have created a social presence through visual interactions such as periscope or even snapchat. The LACMA is another example of this as The New York Times accounts this use in a recent discussion of how social media explores museum’s audience reach: “Our strategy is to appeal to the younger audience to get the word out there about Lacma,” Lucy Redoglia, the museum’s social media manager, said, using the museum’s acronym. “These are people who may not be interested in art right away, but might find a connection through something that we post.”

The idea that social media is an immediate and effective interaction is what makes it so useful to museums. It’s much easier to attract a follower based on appealing content in social media than it is to convince someone to subscribe to a weekly newsletter. It allows explorations of front of house and behind the scenes work to combine “professional and personal enthusiasm” through visual communication while also being able to measure audience engagement through analytic tools.

The use of social media is an interesting platform that attracts young audiences to engage socially on more than one level: in the museum world, it allows these audiences to get to know their peers while also encouraging them to make adventures out into the institutions that may have otherwise been silent to them. And though this may not seem it at first, all of these experiences are educational. How, you might ask? Well, both the audiences and the museum are gaining important perspective and dialogue from each other! Interacting with the museum on social media is not just about pretty content, but about hearing what the content is about. It is a new and growing culture that has expanded the way the museum talks to and learns from its audiences in a post-internet age.

LIS 679 – Session 11 Blog

Digital learning and learning in general have expanded in recent years through the advancements of technology. This has recently touched educational and memory institutions and has helped integrate learning experiences for children and adults alike, because you’re never too old to learn something new.

I have previously discussed the use of distance learning and its benefits to allowing students to access educational opportunities anywhere at any time (see more on session 10 blog). Though this method is very important in sharing of learning materials and information, it is also an increase in responsibility at the hands of the museum and its staff, making sure they are always available and accessible to these services.

Distance learning is just one example of how technology has advanced the dissemination of materials and information of an institution. And like I discussed in a previous post, just because this educational information is “free” and easily available to the public, doesn’t mean it was free and easy to publish. There are an active body of people creating this information who are trained, paid, and expected to do what they do for you (Read: The Making of a Digital Educator by Barry Joseph). The importance of these lessons is that they are created by someone with a purpose to be added to curricula, learning experiences, professional development, and institutional studies. This isn’t just any employee who has made this possible, or the simple magic of technology. Some, like digital educators or information professionals, have perfected the use of publicly sharing tools and information for education both within and without the walls of the museum.

I previously spoke about advancements of the “museum without walls” and how things like mobile media explore the definition of the virtual museum. Now, I am focusing on the physical museum and mobile media tools that reinforce the participation and learning in the museum.

Visiting the AMNH, I was prompted to use some of their apps created by the aforementioned Barry Joseph as the Associate Director for Digital Learning. It may come as a surprise to some that the AMNH actually offers various apps to be used in museum experience. Actually, it came as a surprise to all of my friends who have visited the museum before, but have never heard of these tools. Here’s a link to their apps page, and in case you don’t already know, the AMNH has a total of 9 apps that have been developed by a team at the museum. I was told to use two apps as part of my visit – Explorer and MicroRangers. As part of learning about museum-centered tools, I would also like to discuss the use of these apps.

First, I didn’t use any of them. Not by choice, however. I was unable to use either of them. The Explorer app is designed to be used in the museum as a tool to help navigate visitors through its galleries (because, let’s be real, it’s impossible to do alone no matter how geographically gifted you are). Upon visiting the museum, we were told the WiFi was not working for the entire museum and that the app would be unavailable to us. Though I’m sure this was a rare occurrence, as I was assured by our guide, it still occurred, and it still affected their app. One part of having mobile media in the advancement of creating a virtual presence is to be available any where at any time. This app was not. Though I can’t discuss the app based on my experience using it, I can discuss it based on my lack of an experience.

Next app to use was the MicroRangers. Just a heads up, this is not a “download on the fly” kind of app, and you will definitely not keep it after leaving the museum. Not only was I completely unable to download the app based on the huge amount of data it uses, but it’s not even downloadable unless connected to WiFi. I was able to partner with someone who had downloaded it previously and we set it up with (arguably) little confusion. We did, however, immediately notice how much of an issue battery usage would be because of the immense amount of information being constantly pushed through the app, and even though it worked without connecting to the WiFi, that could cause a huge surge in data and depleting battery life even quicker. Using what the museum calls a “Communicator Coin,” you are connected to an augmented reality that takes you through (a very small) part of the museum’s galleries to play games and learn about the life in the exhibits. Though a great idea, there were issues with accuracy of information. My friend and I were able to easily scan other similarly shaped animals in the finder part of the game. In this instance we were able to scan a hedgehog as a beaver and the app recognized it as such. Though not totally detrimental, it was interesting to see that the app does not rely on accuracy, but more experience.

There was also an issue of spacial awareness while using the app. Some had mentioned that playing the interactive gallery games seemed almost disturbing to guests in small spaces. I was in a large space, yet still managed to disturb other visitors. Everyone hopes to have a positive experience while visiting a museum, but one person’s experience should never ruin the experience of others, in my humble opinion.

While discussing the use of the app with a museum representative, we also learned that there are accessibility restrictions to using the game. First, it can only be played through obtaining the Communicator Coin. How do you get a Communicator Coin? That requires very in-depth research that you hopefully know to perform before you arrive. If not, you can ask various museum employees and be directed to a desk in another floor and location of a museum where you can wait in line, ask for a coin, sign up for emails, and then go back to the location where it can be used. Is this worth it for most visitors? Probably not. From my experience in communicating with visitors in an institution, they are somehow extremely averse to sharing emails for privacy purposes. So now you are required to make a choice between task outweighing the outcome. For many, I would say the answer is no.

Both of these mobile media tools (or just apps) used in AMNH exemplify how institutions are advancing learning opportunities with technology in the physical location of the museum. However, when facing mobile media and digital tools within the museum, the same principles should be upheld as those used outside the museum. Restrictions of use will give users a decision to make of whether they see the benefit of its outcome to be worth the task of obtaining it. However, as this digital tool develops, I am extremely interested in seeing how it evolves based on user feedback and experience goals.

LIS 679 – Session 9 Blog

The digital world moves fast — probably faster than any natural evolution we have experienced before. We saw it in our personal and social lives with the expansion of smart phones, laptops, computers, the internet, television, cars, etc. We even heard it from Neal Stimler from the Met as his position has transitioned from completely analog to entirely digital in less than a decade. We are immersed and, I would dare say, reliant on technology. Take my second blog post for instance. I recalled an experience where I visited a restaurant that used technology for all of its dining practices, including taking reservations and placing orders. That didn’t stop them from getting the job done, and done well, but it definitely woke me up to the rapid ubiquity of technology.

It’s easy for us to all consider how technology has impacted their own lives. You might think of shopping, school, your apps — I think about my long-distance relationship and how technology has made the 1,300 miles between us seem so minimal. But there are some fields of technological advancements that are hidden from us, but still very influential. As we learned from our readings, that field is in museums and libraries.

First, I want to discuss the general lack of understanding in their practices. Museums and libraries have unique struggles in being accepted in the world as necessary cultural institutions. To some, these institutions seem to only function as “entertainment” or “pleasure” and sometimes unfortunately as “outdated.” Those people unfortunately shed a negative light on some of the best educational institutions that are accessible to those who need it most like low income neighborhoods, families, students students. Maybe their problem was they didn’t spend enough time in the institutions before trying to shut them down. Maybe they want to see cultural institutions used for a different reason. It’s easy for me to form this negative opinion because judging from my degrees, I have an educated bias. However, for someone like my father who is a man in the medical field, this doubt is very true.

The first questions he asked when I told him I would be working in a museum was pretty typical: “Museums have jobs?” It shouldn’t be shocking that museums don’t just exist with the artworks already placed on the wall. Not only was this a great opportunity for me to talk about my love for cultural institutions, but it also showed me how little the public understands the roles of museums and libraries. It has also developed a greater appreciation for my future with them. But, just as Paul Marty states, just because an individual doesn’t know how something works, doesn’t mean they don’t know how to use it. This is very true for cultural institutions. We have been raised knowing how to use libraries and visiting museums for education and entertainment, but when were we ever taught how others make the library or museum accessible to us?

Paul Marty gives the example of Jeb Bush trying to shut down the Florida State Library and Archives in 2003, but his efforts were stopped when support from the professional community. Information professionals are nearly invisible to the public. The public expects since the institution has worked for them for so long, that the information has simply always been there. Marty makes this problem easy to understand for all memory institutions. The public’s idea that “if it’s free for me to access, it must be free for you to create” is a plague among all memory institutions that haunts information professionals their entire careers. As we have seen, this idea can be dangerous when people like Jeb Bush decide your job is invaluable enough to axe for budget cuts.

This plague, ironically, was made even worse when information professionals began using technology to provide public access to institutional data. Despite the fact that these professionals worked to ensure we could have access to important data, it’s easy for people to assume that easy access means easy creation. After all, we’ve already removed the driver with the replacement of cars like Tesla, and removed coal miners with the advancement of clean energy. We have been conditioned to believe that technology is wiping out real professional work, when in reality, the data must be maintained by some sort of information professional – and in libraries, museums, and archives, that growth of data has also created a growth of professionals.

In addition to our readings, I read an article by Kaie Jesser from the Estonian Museum. She writes a great article that was published in the CDIOC Newsletter 2015 discussing the growth of data to be archived and how her institution is taking steps to make it accessible, descriptive, and scalable for the future (page 34). Jeeser into great detail to describe methods of describing museum objects in documentation systems (specifically what is used by the Estonian Museum) and how that system is making documentation of new and old data easier and better through continuous documentation. Information from curators, archives, registrar, data management, etc., are important to the museum object’s documentation. Instead of entering the information separately for each individual object (which would obviously take too much time and increase error), the system would regulate the usage of the museum object that already exists and allow those objects to be linked automatically. The importance of this system is to be able to transmit all of this data accurately to an end user through using these bits of information that are added to the description of the museum object through continuous documentation. The system also offers feedback and communication with the museum objects, involving people outside the museum in collecting and recording data from anyone, anywhere. Though this seems like it might make information professionals even more transparent by giving power to the public, using email communication like what they have created for this system might actually put a human at the receiving and editing end of the memory institution.

These information professionals face an exciting and challenging future as digital curators, librarians, archivists, data management, etc., as data grows and professional speculation is scrutinized. I hope that as the profession advances, so will the public’s appreciation for the practice.

 

ICP Museum Site Visit

The International Center of Photography is an institution that exists for the presentation of photography and visual culture. Dedicated to scholars, students, artists and photographers, ICP acts as a catalyst for engaging social change using photography as a medium for communicating empowerment.

In the Summer of 2016, ICP opened its new museum space. From the website:

“The new ICP Museum space was specifically designed to foster shared dialogues about these issues, and the opening exhibition —Public, Private, Secret — is a perfect example of this, addressing one of the most critical conversations in today’s post-Internet society: privacy.”

What digital experiences does the museum offer?

The ICP Museum was very limited in digital devices offered to its visitors. There is no app, audio guide, or digital device that could aid in the visitor’s experience. However, the ICP focuses its exhibitions on the future of photography and will often feature Audio Visuals in the exhibitions and interactive features for the audience to engage with. I visited during the Exhibition of Public, Private, Secret and was able to experience the various digital interactive devices within the exhibition. It is also a very small space, so there’s not a lot of room to have more than one exhibition. Depending on what is on display, in this case Public, Private, Secret, there may or may not be AV in the galleries or interactive devices.

Who do you think is the intended audience for each digital component who is it for?

The ICP museum reaches out to a typically younger and more digitally active audience. It is a new museum and features dynamic views of image culture that focus on the future of photography.

What is the goal of each component and is it successful in attaining that goal? Why or why not?

The goal of the AV and interactive devices that I saw in the exhibition were to engage audiences with the topic discussed. Immersing the visitor in videos using headphones to hear the audio was a big part of the exhibition. It is a very easy concept to attached headphones to a video screen and expect its visitors to use them, and from what I observed, it was successful in its use of providing audio to a video, which seems like a simple idea, but can also be quite challenging to do well depending on the content and the space.

I observed other visitors using the audio in the gallery with ease and little apprehension. Though the attendance was small, it was still easy to see what in the exhibition was attractive to visitors.

How are they using it?

Due to the structure of the headphones attached to the monitors, all visitors used it alone. There were no real “group” inspired interactions besides the typically gathering and discussing of works. There was a room dedicated to displaying a slideshow of images, but even that room did not facilitate much of a group activity.

Are they using it as intended by the museum, do you think?

Absolutely, as I’m sure the headphones were intended to be used for audio information that is part of the work.

How are they using it in relation to other experiences in the museum? Spending more time, less time, or using it in conjunction with something (wall text)?

Headphones connected to the monitors were helpful in obtaining the full experience of the videos as they were intended to be observed together. About half the (very small amount) visitors actually used the headphones in addition to observing the video and reading the text.

Are the experiences integrated into the museum experiences?

Yes, as there was only the one exhibition (the museum’s first) the videos in the galleries were well integrated into the experience of the museum. As mentioned in the quote from the museum’s website, the opening exhibition at ICP aims to address conversation in a post-Internet society, which was reflected both in content and context. I used the headphones not only as a means of experiencing the video art, but also as a method to remove myself from the exhibition as a whole, experience the visual information and culture presented to me, consume it publicly and privately, and integrate that information into the entire museum experience.

Though no app, no audio guide, and no participatory social interaction may seem like a bad thing, I had to consider the context of this museum. It is only a few months old – most digital advancements like this typically happen after some time to observe audiences and usefulness of the app in the space. Also, the exhibition was very immersive and extremely digital. Too much could be a bad thing, and in this case, the less digital devices that I had to worry about, the better.

I also had to add this image that is painted onto the street in front of the entrance as it pertains to the exhibition at ICP and discussions previously held in this class on audience data collection in museums.

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LIS 679 – Session 8 Blog

Attendance plays a huge role in defining success for museums, from general attendance to exhibition and to programs. Commonly it is misunderstood that if a museum draws crowds, it is successful. But that’s not how most success should be measured in museums.

For curators, success happens when their exhibition opens.

For development, success happens when donors are active and financial goals are met.

In most instances, crowds are a disadvantage for museums. They create crowded spaces that might be dangers for visitors and artworks alike. They put stress on visitors to observe at a faster pace or a pace they would normally not participate in. It puts pressure on the employees to keep every visitor in mind when addressing their needs, and when it comes to educational institutions like these, those needs can vary dramatically.

For visitor engagement, success does not happen when there are crowds. Success happens when visitors engage in the museum and repeat their visits. Almost anyone can walk into a museum, but what is important in visitor engagement is what they do in between the time they walk in and walk out.

Due to recent technologies, it’s not at all difficult to measure this success. Nina Simon writes on the idea of the “participatory museum” and how institutions can embody these methods and understand them from beginning to end. The participatory museum focuses less on “how many people can we fit through the doors” and more on “how many social interactions can we create when people come through our doors.”

As Nina explains, participation happens at various levels. She gives examples of five stages that all range from individual to social and explains how the museum can inspire this growth in participation.

Every museum starts at the first stage of “me” when the individual visitor consumes the content of the museum. It’s a simple task – as simple as hanging a picture on the wall. To an extent, every experience we have begins at this level, whether it is going out for dinner, going to class, or going shopping. Every participation begins with a consumption of content. From there, visitors can either continue this consumption through more participation, or choose to eliminate their participation by leaving. The next stage is part of how the individual interacts with the content based on their initial reaction. We still this a lot in museums, and is the reason why GA’s exist, making sure their interaction with the content is within the rules of participation in the museum. Then is the third stage of how individual interactions are networked in aggregate. This stage looks at visitor interactions as a whole and observes how each one informs the other. Hopefully they can all relate to similar interactions and be observed as a collection of similar data. This is where most social engagement begins in museums, and begins the development of the next two stages. The fourth stage is when individuals can interact in socially networked participation. This means individuals coming together and using their efforts as a group to participate in an activity. This is more than just “watching, observing, and leaving” – this is watching, observing, participating, engaging, and socializing. Each stage at this point has built a framework that leads to the greater efforts of social participation. The fifth and final stage mentioned by Nina is where individuals engage with each other socially. This draws on greater social attention and participation than individual. There is a clear social identity in the participants that is reflected by the goals of the activity within the museum.

All of these methods of participation, from individual to social, are important to the diversity of learning methods in the world. As we have read and discussed before, the learning identity of a participant is crucial to their level of participation and ability to take away knowledge from an experience. Some individuals might be intimidated by social activities and then be forced to mentally shut down before they can interact with the content. Others might actively seek out social activities and then be forced to shut down when no opportunities to do so are presented. However, creating social and individual activities aren’t exclusionary to each other. As mentioned, the first stage is always established in an effort to engage the individual. In order to reach each stage of the five of social participation, the museum will have to establish participation at every stage along the way. This has every visitor in mind and every learning method in practice.

Before, I used the Dallas Museum of Art’s Center for Creative Connections as an example of how to engage multiple learners and create both social and individual participation. (You can read more about the DMA and its use of social engagement for learning here.) We also discussed as a class how various efforts were made in the activities that engaged visitors with its content. We noted groups of young men working individually on a creative project, but sitting together in conversation. We also saw an example of this when visiting the Cooper Hewitt and learning how its design of the pen has changed participation and visitor experience. Then pen itself is designed for individual use, but when used in the interactive room or on the tables in the galleries, it becomes more of a social participation as opportunities to communicate, share information, and publicly view data are explored. What also makes this data unique is that not only is it shared with the museum, but visitors are capable of collecting it and accessing it even after they have left the institution through an online post-visit. This allows the to create a museum-based community online after establishing the relationship at the museum itself.

The key to creating successful museum participation is not to focus on the crowd, but the community. Building a community that engages with the museum and others within it will make the museum a better place. Next time you visit a museum, think of the five stages of participation Nina shared and how you choose to engage in all five (if all are offered). Of course, every visitor begins at the first stage, but depending on the activities within the museum and the motivation of the individual, all five stages can be successfully reached.

Frick Collection Site Visit

The Frick Collection is recognized worldwide for its premiere collection of European art and sculpture. It was created by Henry Clay Frick and is located in his old place of residence where he housed the collection of works. I enjoyed the digital presence of the Frick and its ability to still maintain the tranquility of traditional exhibitionism and viewership.

What digital experiences does the museum offer?

App – Yes, the Frick does have a mobile app that can be used anywhere, including outside of the museum. The app offers an explorative map that can be used in the gallery spaces, a short list of tours that can guide visitors independently on a selective experience, a list of artworks and artists in the collection, a list of current events at the Frick, and basic visitor information. Though it seems a bit glitchy at times (the Art and Artists selection tends to stall – maybe because of the huge amount of information presented at once), the app seems like a great tool to independently guide a tech-savy visitor through the museum and to even prepare for their visit.

Audio Multimedia Tour – Yes, the Frick offers to its visitors a digital, random access audio guide called Acoustiguide Audio Tour that allows its users to listen to information regarding each piece based on its exhibition tag number. The guide is also offered in several language. While visiting, I head Spanish, French, and English. It also offers information in Japanese, Italian, and German. This was a very popular device in the galleries based solely on the audience the Frick attracts. Most visitors I had seen were above the age of 50, and I have witnessed in past observation experiences in institutions that audio guides tend to be most popular with older audiences. These audio guides are included in the price of admission.

AV in Gallery – No, because the Frick is located in the old home of Henry Clay Frick, the integrity of the house and its overall characteristic is maintained. There are no AV advancements to the galleries, assumably to not disrupt the traditional appearance of the museum space.

Interactive – Yes/No, the museum offers the audio guide, they call it the Acoustiguide audio tour, that allows visitors of several languages the ability to listen to information about each room and the pieces within them. This is interactive as the visitor will use the guide to enter in an item number seen with the works, and in exchange they will be able to listen to the museum’s provided information on the piece.

There is a room located within the Frick on the first floor called the Music Room that offers 12 minute “orientation” sessions about the Frick and its collection. The film is shown every 20 minutes and offers automatic connection to audiences with hearing aids. It also has a large amount of semi-private seating that might be attractive to some of its notably older audiences. Though not interactive as per the definition, it is still a uniquely informative tool on getting to know the museum. Though it is a bit strange that you have to go through several spaces to get to that room anyways.

However, on the website there are many opportunities to interact while not in the museum. Live webcasts, virtual tours, audio guides, and more can be accessed anywhere you are able to use the internet.

Do they provide devices? Do you use your own? – The museum offers audio guides to be used in the galleries. Visitors may also use their own smart phone, though it must be Apple or Android, to guide themselves through the galleries. They can even access audio information via their phones as well. I’m currently at my personal home listening to information about the “Fragonard Room,” which I find to be very a resourceful use of the app in that I can access this information from anywhere with my own device!

Is there a cost to use these? How much? – The audio guides and the app for personal devices are all free. The museum’s audio guide is offered in the price of admission.

Who, do you think, is the intended audience for each digital component? Who is it for? – It’s clear that its target audiences aligns with the intended audience for this audio guide, and possibly attracting a younger audience like myself to the app. Many adults are moving towards independent and digital usage, and many seniors use the audio guides to ease and educate their visiting experiences. The museum doesn’t allow children under the age of 10 into the Museum, and no one under the age of 18 is allowed to use the reference library. Though some would consider this exclusive, it is to maintain the order of the museum and preserve the safety of the artwork and its young visitors.

What is the goal of each component and is it successful in attaining that goal? Why or why not? – The goal is clearly to provide a completely immersive and educational experience. There are no plaques or text labels in any of the galleries to maintain minimalism in design. Audiences rely on the use of the item numbers and the audio guide to learn about both the works and the space they are in as each gallery was once used as a room in the Frick home.

Was the content useful/interesting? – I would have to say that it is extremely useful and very interesting. I have played on the app for a few days now, once before visiting, and several times after visiting. It is a great way to maintain engagement with an audience even after they leave the institution. It can even be a great way to connect with audiences that are not local to New York and just want to learn more about the institution. All of the information that is provided on the app is also provided on their website as they offer many opportunities to research and interact with the museum online through virtual tours, live webcasts, archives, and more.

What was the user experience like? Easy to navigate, nice to look at, clear instructions? – The audio guide is extremely easy to navigate. It resembled an old phone where number keys were entered based on the item number in the gallery. It is a random access digital guide that allows users to take random paths of viewership while still being able to use the guide. It offers information in six languages that are easy to select: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Japanese.

The app is also very easy to navigate. It was a home page that shows all of what it offers in a list that is easy to navigate and explore. With the use of personal headphones, I could walk through the galleries and conveniently listen to information about the rooms and artworks.

Who is using it? – While observing others using the guides, I noticed a trend of much older audiences. I was also surprised that on a Wednesday afternoon, about 50% of the visitors were actively using these guides. I didn’t see anyone using their smart phones to access the app. This could be due to the convenience and attraction of using the free audio guide, the dissonance between its audience and using a mobile app, or because maybe no one else knew about it.

How are they using it? – Most visitors were using this audio guide on their own, which makes sense as audio guides are typically recognized in the GLAM world to be social inhibitors. They are using it to supplement their visual experience and replace the missing wall text with a more immersive audio experience.

Are they using it as intended by the museum do you think? – Yes, as each use of the audio guide was used by a visitor while standing either in a room or in front of a work of art in the room. I watched as visitors would stand, listen, observe, then move on to another piece and enter the item number into the device and then begin listening to the audio once again. I also saw a group of four sitting on one of the benches in the gallery listening together to the information on the audio guide. I would say the intended use of the guides is maintained with adequate seating within most of the galleries. Visitors, especially elderly, prefer to seat themselves in instances where they might want to stay for a while, whether that be an attraction to the work of art, or because they are listening to an audio guide. In this instance, it was easier for visitors to enjoy the full length of the audio guide because they were also provided adequate seating.

The use of the Music Room may not have been entirely what it was intended, but the fact that it typically only used as an “orientation” space may be difficult to gage its effectiveness. I did see about five people in the room, one group of three and two solitary individuals. The two individuals were quietly observing the screen, sitting, and seemingly relaxing. The others in the group were also silent, grouped together, and seemed to be more observant to the information in the “orientation” video. From what I observed, it seemed to be more of a visual attraction and place to rest semi-privately not in a gallery.

The use of the app may have less usage in the actual museum space, and therefore may not be used as intended. However, it does seem like the app is supposed to supplement the museum and the audio guide with more visitor centered information and a map. It is also lightly advertised on the website and in the museum itself, so a push for it to be used in the gallery may not be as encouraged as the audio guides.

How are they using it in relation to other experiences in the museum? Spending more time or less time? Using it in conjunction with something (wall text)? – Visitors are using it to really supplement their museum experience. It allows them to spend more time learning about the museum at their own pace and based on their own interests. The seating also encourages them to stay as long as they want in a particular area while listening to the audio guide. They don’t have to wait for a tour to receive in depth information about the museum and its works. There are also, as previously mentioned, no wall texts, so any information has to be obtained through either the mobile app, which was only used by me, or the audio guide, which was quite popular.

Are the experiences integrated into the museum experiences? – Yes, the use of the audio guide is greatly integrated into the museum experience, first with the ability to receive it for free at admission. Most visitors would find paying for an audio guide on top of an entrance fee to be a hinderance to its usage. At the Frick, it is almost encouraged. Replacing the wall text with item numbers that are used to access information via the audio guide allows for more information to be shared that might not fit in a small plaque, and it also allows for the information to reach multilingual audiences, which are quite popular for this institution because of its European relations.

The Music Room is only integrated into the museum experience as it is located inside the museum and offers the orientations about the museum and its audio guides.

Where are they located? – The audio guides are located upon entry into the museum, allowing for visitors to have easy access to them upon entering and leaving.

The Music Room is located within the museum though the garden, and it not really directing traffic. You will only know about it by reading the sign in front of the room’s door or doing extensive research on the room itself.

Are are they advertised/marketed? – The audio guides are advertised on the website and in the institution. I believe this is because they are greatly encouraged in use for both foreign language speakers and anyone wanting to gather information that has otherwise been omitted on the wall text or labels.

LIS 679 – Session 5 Blog

The topic of accessibility in a museum seems almost like it should be a no brainer: of course, like anything else, museums should be accessible to everyone. But, there are boundaries to accessibility that most people might not consider when trying to understand the general public’s needs.

In our readings, we learned, of course, that museums are required by the ADA to be accessible to anyone with a physical disability that might inhibit walking, moving, seeing, etc. The building itself must be structured in a way that wheelchairs, strollers, or any other mobility device can easily (thought that term can be interchanged with just successfully) navigate through the building. We see this through elevators, lifts, ramps, and automatic doors. Some museums absolutely excel at accessibility, while others seem to meet the bare minimum and keep it at that. Unfortunately, that’s not only bad for the visitor, it’s bad for the museum. A museum that lacks easy accessibility for all will see a drop in visitorship or an interest in attending exhibitions, public programs, and events. If a museum like this decides to create a program whose target audience is in some way disabled, how are they then catering to their first need of even getting into the museum?

In addition to physical accessibility, we discussed a huge but frequently overlooked factor of being accessible to multilingual audiences. We learned in our readings that since 1965, there have been an estimated 40 million immigrants into the United States, 1/5 of them Hispanic and 3/10 Asian. And depending on where you live, your area might have a higher percentage of international residents (for example: California, Texas, or New York. All states are popular locations for immigrant mobility due to both location and culture). We also discussed that in the United States, there is a vast amount of language diversity that is frequently discarded or overlooked (We can call this a social issue and lack of education, seeing as how frequently our nation struggles with cultural recognition or respect for diversity). Although English is the highest spoken language in the United States, there are still many whose first language is something other, such as Spanish, Chinese, French, and Tagalog being the top four.

A museum in a highly populated and diverse area such as New York might be a popular place not only for international travelers to visit, but international residents as well. Having every visitor in mind means more than meeting minimum ADA building requirements. Without a language or translation service for anyone who doesn’t speak or read the institution’s native language, their experience will be extremely limited to just observing as opposed to learning. As an experienced museum visitor representative, I have spent years watching foreign travelers visit my institutions, only to be turned down for foreign language guides because they simply do not exist. Though their disappointment was understood, it was also disheartening as an employee to see their experience diminished before they even entered the galleries. If they are looking to be more diverse, these are techniques that can be explored.

If evaluating language diversity for the entire museum is not affordable or of interest to the museum, maybe focusing on a particular target audience may help. In 2014, Nur opened at Dallas Museum of Art was and became the first museum outside of Europe to feature the amazing Islamic works that explored light through artifacts, text, architecture, and design. The goal was not only to attract and educate their frequent audiences in Dallas, most of whom are either English or Spanish speaking, but to attract a specialized audience and one that is very prominent in the DFW area: the Islamic audience. One way in which I observed this was through the use of Arabic text in the exhibition. The wall texts were copied three times and in three languages: English, Spanish, and Arabic. Though most people assumed it was for dramatic effect related to the cultural implications of the exhibition, it was designed to be a tool to accommodate the Arabic speaking audiences and encourage them to visit the museum during this special exhibition. In doing so, the museum attracted audiences to the exhibition and all of its programs designed around the exhibition. This was a great example of going above and beyond for the visitor through the simple use of text.

Other examples of accessibility can be seen through creating specialized programs for visitors who either can’t or have difficulty visiting the museum during its regular hours of operation. I touched on this topic a bit in the previous discussion with a program designed by the Amon Carter Museum for audiences on the autism spectrum and their guardians or family members.

Having multilingual resources reaches the topic of accessibility because it recognizes that not all experiences can be limited to one language, just like not all experiences can be limited to one physical state of being. There are so many ways a museum can make efforts in being accessible in more ways than mobility, but in communication as well. I found an interesting development in making language design universal in museums through the use of electronic paper in place of label copy. The article can be followed through this link. This text can be updated by curators and designers in real time, featuring multiple languages, multiple font sizes, and more or less detail regarding the work based on the curator’s interests.

Issues related to a lack of diverse guides or translations are largely due to the cost and how much the institution believes their data does or does not reflect the need for such an expense. Firstly, does this data exist? If the museum is not collecting the data to see the diversity of its visitors, then how are they performing with every visitor in mind? Surveying visitors with their permission can help in gathering this information. Asking them what language they speak or read at home can help show the diversity of their visitors. The museum might even be able to do a very cost effective study of just simply looking at the language statistics from the Census Bureau and gathering information on what are the most spoken or read languages in their area. It is an effort that must be taken on by the museum and its staff.

 

LIS679 – Session 4 Blog Post

Museums are one of the most popular attractions worldwide. As we learned in our first set of readings, they attract, advance, and educate more than 850 million people annually. It’s easy to assume why these millions of people are visiting museums, as we have also learned that motivations tend to include factors of entertainment, social, learning, life cycle, place, practical, and context. Though it’s easy to group and understand visitors based on their motivations, it’s not as easy to understand their experience based learning practices.  This is a challenge to those in the engagement field because they can’t assume each visitor has one way of learning. Though it would be easy to assume that all visitors learn by simply visiting the museums and looking at the artwork, we learned in our readings that the most effective form of learning involves not just seeing and hearing, but seeing, hearing, and also doing. So how can the museum promote a balanced learning experience for all of its visitors without making it exclusive?

Just like the diversity of its audience, there’s not one way for a museum to answer this question. Engagement can involve so many practices, but they don’t always have to include technology. As long as there is a reciprocation of information that both parties involved can learn from, share experiences, and respond to, it can be defined as “engaging.” For those institutions that may be small staffed or lack in funding, none-digital approaches to engagement might be their only option.

Some museums have taken great efforts through public learning spaces and public or educational programs in order to create various levels of engagement. Some are widely open and part of the museum as a whole, and others are specific to a learning type and made only available to those participants. Both of these are great ways to involve the visitor and the unique learner. Being open allows all visitors to use the social learning experience without feeling obligated to take what could be an unwanted effort, while other exclusive experiences allow independent learners the opportunity to participate in a small setting that will be more meaningful to their learning identity.

For example, the Dallas Museum of Art’s Center for Creative Connections. This is a permanent learning environment in the museum that is open to people of all ages and interests. Its goal is to involve every type of leaner that we discussed in the most recent lesson. Here, visitors are encouraged to “LOOK, TOUCH, LISTEN,READ, MAKE, and TALK about art” in a setting that doesn’t feel authoritative or judgmental like the galleries. Instead of a looming gallery attendant radio-ing your every move to their supervisor, you are greeted by a friendly staff member and leader who encourages you to ask questions, make deductions, and create a direct experience that can be remembered and used for meaning making in the future. This is an experience that is not exclusive to age, interest, or education and involves every type of audience. It’s great that it is a permanent learning center that is open during museum hours so that visitors can use these experiences to learn in tandem with the exhibitions.

Another example is a Family Access Program created by the Visitor Experience Manager at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art called Sensory Saturday. This program involves Visitor Experience, Gallery Teachers, and interpretive resources to encourage a new method of learning for children on the autism spectrum. What’s unique about this experience is the type of learning practices it involves. Learning with autism is a challenge and involves not only the participant in need, but their guardians as well. From the website, it describes the experience as a “time to explore artworks in the galleries and get creative during a hands-on, art-making experience” and encourages children to learn how to critically interact using sensory and memory, and allows parents the opportunity to learn more about their children through participating with them in these hands-on activities. Although it takes place during public museum hours, it is typically at a time when the museum is at its slowest attendance (resource: I used to report the attendance!) so that these very independent and not social learners can experience the museum, a place they wouldn’t typically go, in a stress free environment.

Learning about the various types of learners, as meta as it may sound, is one way engagement can be addressed and explored in a museum. That learning for the museum can be observations, data collection, surveys, apps, and many other things. But more importantly, every learning experience should be addressed. We learned about these experiences from reading Parry’s “Learning by Doing and Learning by Play” and discussing them in class. In the exploration of learning identities, there are two groups divided by two subgroups. First, the physical learners, those who feel or use their senses, and then the mental learners, those who think and observe. The physical learners are dynamic and innovative. The mental are analytic and use common sense. We see these different types of learners every day in a museum. The person who walks in quietly and observes peacefully, slowly, and without much involvement physically. Then there are those who walk in, take in the entire surroundings through questions or feelings, and even those who will physically walk up to a painting or sculpture and touch its surface. As a museum professional, we are always quick to despise that person. Why would they do that? Don’t they know what a museum is? Questions like this make assumptions that all museum visitors are common sense learners and should know how to behave in a museum. This also creates exclusion as often times the dynamic or innovative learner that is corrected on his/her action feels attacked or scrutinized. They don’t understand why their method of learning is suddenly so wrong, and it can keep them from ever stepping food in an institution like this again.

Traditionally, the museum has been considered a place of academia and reserved for scholars and the elite. It has since transformed into what is now a visitor-centric, participatory, social institution that involves more activity than just viewing. It has become integrated, personal, social, and, as of recently, digital. Involve the mindset of “anyone anywhere” to ask questions, engage impressions, thoughts, and feelings by embracing all learning and meaning making experiences. As seen by the Dallas Museum of Art and The Amon Carter Museum of American Art, they embraced new experiences of learning and engagement by encouraging participants to have new activities and perspectives that involve the museum.