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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