Join the MCN Program Co-Chairs to find out how the conference program comes together.
Speaker : Suse Cairns, Assistant Professor, George Washington University
Speaker : Jennifer Foley, Director of Education and Community Engagement, Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Speaker : Trish Oxford, Principal Technologist, Trish Oxford Media
Not Just For Kids: Playful Experience for all Visitors
Friday, November 4, 2016 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Session Leader : Blaire Moskowitz, Marketing Manager, Antenna International
Co-Presenter : Christine Murray, Senior Content Designer, Antenna International
Co-Presenter : Erica Gangsei, Head of Interpretive Media, SFMOMA
Co-Presenter : Kellian Adams, Mastermind, Greendoor Labs
Co-Presenter : Scott Eberle, Vice President for Play Studies and Editor of The American Journal of Play, The Strong National Museum of Play
It’s a misconception that play is just for kids. As seen with adult preschools in Brooklyn, “The Beach” ball pit at the National Building Museum, and the “Adult coloring book” category on Amazon, we know the general public is looking for places to have fun and not be measurably productive at all times. How can museums capitalize on this somewhat-taboo trend of adult spontaneity and experience? “Talking about adult play is kind of taboo in our culture,” says Lynn Barnett-Morris, University of Illinois expert on the effects of play on personality. “We think it’s a waste of time or that we could be more productive doing other things — all sorts of dumb stuff.” In our unique place of “edutainment”, museums can be an agent of change to show that adult play is a way to learn new skills, remember information, and make connections, all while capturing the imagination. So how do we encourage enjoyable and playful learning in both a museum that the public views as very serious and in a culture that thinks play is only for children? How can we free visitors from the falsely perceived pressure of forced learning in a museum? Can we provide enough freedom that adult visitors are engaged in activities that encourage personal expressiveness and in turn create positive and happy memories? This panel will address how museums can address play in adult learning. We will discuss how playful environments are created and how they can be extended to outside of the museum, drawing upon the panelists experiences designing playful exhibitions and digital interpretation. Panelists will draw upon the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and the meaning of “flow” in relation to museums, and discuss how games can be incorporated into digital media.
The digital preservation of Babylon and VR archives of at-risk heritage sites
3D photogrammetry model of a Hatrene priest. Credit: “luciamontalban” on Sketchfab.
Session Leader : Brinker Ferguson, PhD candidate, University of California Santa Cruz
Wednesday, November 2, 2016 1:45 PM – 2:15 PM
In the winter of 2009, a team of heritage professionals documented the site of Babylon using a variety of technologies in digital capture including laser scanning, photogrammetry, structured light and aerial lidar. Since that time, Babylon and its surrounding world heritage sites have come under particularly grave threat from civil war in Syria, the Iraq war, and the campaigns of fundamentalist groups such as ISIS. Currently, there is a growing sentiment within heritage organizations that while it may not be possible to physically save all at-risk sites, it might at least be possible to produce digital records for posterity, to forestall all knowledge loss and to allow future scholars and conservators to study and possible “visit” these sites, if only virtually. But such initiatives raise many ethical questions. Who is doing the documentation? What sites are deemed most at risk and most important to digitally preserve? To whom does this information belong? What tools are being used to document, and what types of data capture, imaging, and archiving do they privilege? How is this data visualized and published? And who has access to the archive of information? The Babylon project will serve as a productive locus from which to unpack issues of politics, ownership, heritage, power, and representation. In addition, this presentation will explore two different 3-D virtual reality projects that used the Babylon data. I plan to examine if they privilege particular types of imaging and knowledge sharing or if these projects might be seen as a potential model for future heritage site archives.
Examining the EDGE (Exhibit Design for GIrls Engagement) Data
Thursday, November 3, 2016 10:15 AM – 10:45 AM
Session Leader : Miriam Langer, Professor of Media Arts, NMHU
Co-Presenter : Toni Dancstep, Senior Researcher, Exploratorium
The Exploratorium lead an NSF study to observe 1000 girls ages 8-13 engaging in hands-on science exhibits. This extensive research was a response to the NSF statement that parents “explain science to boys at 3x the level explained to girls”. By collecting and analyzing data over 2 years, the EDGE (Exhibit Design for Girls Engagement) group distilled ten key design attributes that lead to better engagement by girls. As part of the initial dissemination team, I’ll discuss the EDGE findings and how we might extrapolate from hands-on exhibit engagement to digital environments.
Strategic and Integrated Analytics / Making Data About Museums Actionable
Session Leader : Bruce Wyman, Principal, USD Design | MACH Consulting
Co-Presenter : Kate Haley Goldman, Principal, Haley Goldman Consulting
Co-Presenter : Corey Timpson, Vice President, Exhibitions, Research, and Design, Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Co-Presenter : Douglas Hegley, Director of Media & Technology, Minneapolis Institute of Art
Friday, November 4, 2016 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
An emerging discipline is beginning to appear in the museum field — one of data-driven decision making. While individual departments have long used their own internal analytics tools to help make business decisions, it’s only in the recent years that data sources have substantially improved thus enabling potentially wider and more integrated application. Data sources now include everything from point-of-sale and membership data to back-end analytics of in-gallery interpretation. Data collection is the critical first step but beyond that the actual process of analysis, reliable interpretation, and learning how to effectively implement systems to use that information is still new to the culture heritage sector. This is one of the most important emerging frontiers in the museum field. It’s increasingly possible to review and use multiple sources of data to provide a more comprehensive view of how museums are being used, the intricate pathways of audience engagement, sustained relevancy and personalized relationship-building. Data sources are becoming more numerous, designing the right questions, accurate analysis and interpretation of the data, and building processes for using data, however, are hard. Our panel will review projects at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and Minneapolis Institute of Art to look at how data collection is being performed, how it aligns with institutional goals, and how business decisions and strategic planning have evolved as a product of a detailed review of data leading to the overhaul of existing practices. We’ll share the thinking that goes into the data collection and analysis process while giving practical insight into how this experience can be applied to other organizations beginning to head down this path. We will also look at approaches to making practical use of big data, from statistical analysis techniques to predictive analytics – and the potential staffing and ethical implications of this emerging practice.
Friday, November 4, 2016 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Session Leader : Greg Albers, Digital Publications Manager, J. Paul Getty Trust
Co-Presenter : Annelisa Stephan, Manager for Digital Engagement, J. Paul Getty Trust
What does a genuinely human-centered workplace feel like—and what can you do to create it? Focusing on positive cultural and operational change for digital staff in the museum workplace, this unconference-style session will include group brainstorms and hands-on activities that explore how meaningful change can happen through small, generous actions from individuals across the org chart. We’ll generate ideas for concrete actions we can take right now around the conference themes. The following three themes are proposed, but will be open for referendum at the beginning of the session: • Collaboration—Connect with respect and true partnership • Inclusion—Create safe space for everyone to participate and act authentically • Experimentation—Work from creativity and joy We’ll focus on fostering equitable work cultures that provide alternatives to the dominator paradigm. The presenters will also share their own successes and failures in their quest for culture change, with a focus on trust, open communication, digital literacy, and the occasional happy hour. Come ready to share your own strategies, aspirations, and gripes, and leave with actionable ideas for making your own museum more collaborative, dynamic, and just plain personal—including a commitment to go back and do one thing in the following weeks to make your workplace what you need it to be. — Session emcees Greg Albers and Annelisa Stephan work on digital publications and digital engagement, respectively, at the J. Paul Getty Trust. When not building books or blogs, they often find themselves hatching up plans to increase digital literacy and joyful culture across the Getty. In 2013 they and fellow Getty tugboats, started the “10-Minute Tech” program of informal peer-to-peer training. This spring they put together the Getty’s first “Digital Share,” an on-site retreat for staff working on digital projects, that featured lightning talks, tech demos and tours, small group discussions, and a reception.
The Future of Museum Technology
Friday, November 4, 2016 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Session Leader : Chad Weinard, Independent Technologist + Strategist, Independent
Co-Presenter : Jason Alderman, Experience Designer, Cloud Chamber / Balboa Park Online Collaborative
What technology will we need in order to realize the human-centered museum? The shift in conversation toward global issues, community engagement and broad organizational strategies gives the impression that “technology” is a solved problem. It’s not. Our technology (especially in small and midsize museums) can’t support our current organizations, much less the museums we envision for the future. And many times, in migrating museums to newer technology, we’re embracing technologies that are common among other museums, but already considered legacy within industry—technologies that are handicapped from the get-go. Collections management, DAMS, CRM, membership, ticketing, web publishing, social and email management, internal communications and collaboration…most museums’ systems architecture is the product of short-term, ad-hoc planning and organizational dysfunction. Our current systems often reinforce organizational silos and hinder collaboration, transparency, sharing, innovation. What would it look like to create systems architectures that promote—even require—organizational tranformation? We’ll investigate this question in a series of interviews and collaborative whiteboard sessions with leaders and practitioners from across the sector, then organize and share the results in this forum. In doing so, we’ll look at trends in industry to question our current practices. Slack vs. email? Cloud vs local storage? WordPress vs Drupal? Build or buy? Commercial or open-source? In-house or contracted? Specific decisions affect the organization. We’ll take a candid look at the digital infrastructure needed to support the collections, experiences, engagement and education programs we envision. In many organizations, museum technologists now take on the role of change agent, organizational strategist, community engager, staff trainer, in-gallery experience designer, and others. Systems architecture is well within our purview. It’s time we embraced it.
Low Tech, High Touch: How to Use the Tools in Guests’ Pockets to Create Engaging Experiences
Thursday, November 3, 2016 9:45 AM – 10:15 AM
Session Leader : Dustin Growick, Audience Development Outreach Manager + Team Lead for Science, Museum Hack
Despite a techie word in our name, Museum Hack is known for being “low tech, high touch” – emphasizing social experience first and foremost over a digitally-based experience. However, modern museum visitors come armed with tech, and we can’t deny that they want to use it in our spaces. Selfies, Tweets, Instagram, informal research: the tech in our guests’ pockets are powerful tools to meet a museum’s engagement goals, without resorting to a fancy app or a data-heavy audio guide. We have developed a formula to create fast, lightweight and easy activities that gets guests to use their own technology to actively engage with the collection, each other, and the museum at large with a sensibility that is “reverently irreverent” and fulfills the goals of museum interpretation staff. Join us to sample some of our favorite activities, pick up a few tips on activity development and learn how to fulfill some of your engagement goals simply by using the tools in your pocket.
Professional Forum: Making Digital and Data Literacy More Inclusive Friday, November 4, 2016 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Session Leader : Elizabeth Bollwerk, Archaeological Analyst, DAACS/Thomas Jefferson Foundation
Co-Presenter : Lesley Langa, CEO, NovaKultura Consulting, NovaKultura Consulting
Co-Presenter : loreto alonzi, Senior Data Scientist, University of Virginia
Co-Presenter : Eric Johnson, Head, Innovative Media for Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries, Innovative Media for Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries
Co-Presenter : Robert Connolly, Director/Associate Professor, University of Memphis (retiring in September)
Session Leader : Carolyn Royston, Director of Digital, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Digital applications and data are a critical component of how museums and cultural heritage institutions define their goals, relate to and understand their visitors, and evaluate the success of both digital and analog projects. While museums are allocating resources and creating analyst roles within their institutions, a number of museums technologists have advocated that digital and data need to be integrated into all aspects of museums and cultural heritage institutions. However, those same advocates acknowledge that a crucial part of this process is creating opportunities for more museum professionals to receive digital and data literacy training. This session brings together six panelists who work or have lead digital and data literacy education projects in cultural heritage institutions, libraries, and museums. The presenters will share case studies on their projects that teach students and professionals digital and data literacy skills. The purpose of this session is to bring together individuals from both inside and outside the museum sector who can offer concrete examples of how formal and informal educational initiatives can increase engagement and awareness of the importance of digital and data analysis skills. These presentations emphasize that creating a more inclusive environment around digital and data, i.e. making it accessible, relatable, and interesting, is a key component to literacy education. Attendees will leave with a solid understanding of two or three principles they can use to make engagement programs human-centered, successful, and equally importantly, an understanding of the challenges inherent in such initiatives.
Human-Centered Community Engagement in a Digital World: Lessons from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s History Unfolded Project
Friday, November 4, 2016 9:00 AM – 9:15 AM
Session Leader : Eric Schmalz, Citizen History Community Manager, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Crowdsourcing and citizen history projects are becoming increasingly popular. A growing number of museums and cultural organizations aim to engage communities at the regional or national level through such ventures. While large-scale involvement is often an attractive goal, significant questions remain: can museums undertake extensive community engagement without sacrificing the benefits of meaningful, human-centered connections? Are such efforts worth it? And if so, what are the digital and non-digital strategies needed to scale-up this work? The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has been exploring answers to these questions through its first full-fledged citizen history project, History Unfolded: US Newspapers and the Holocaust. Students and lifelong learners across the country research local newspaper collections and submit relevant articles to the project’s website. The goals are to reach 20% of high school students and 20% of libraries across the country in a meaningful way. Since the project’s launch in November, more than 1000 citizen historians have joined, submitting over 2,000 articles. Secondary and college students in schools nationwide have contributed hundreds of stories, including from Jewish, African-American, and foreign language newspapers. Dedicated lifelong learners have extensively researched online and print collections, helping to inform the Museum as it prepares a new exhibition opening in spring 2018. In this case study, participants will learn how the hiring of a full-time community manager has played a critical role in the project’s success. The Museum’s team will discuss how to conduct large-scale community outreach through tailored emails, blogs incorporating multimedia, and public video chats. Project leaders will examine what motivates community members to join and stay involved by sharing feedback from the community itself. The challenges and limitations of keeping the work human-centered will be addressed, as well as practical ways other institutions can plan to undertake large-scale participatory projects in the future.