MCN 2016

MCN 2016 Sessions – Low Tech, High Touch: How to Use the Tools in Guests’ Pockets to Create Engaging Experiences

Dustin Growick from Museum Hack at MCN 2016

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.




Leveraging Volunteers and Crowdsourcing for Digitization

This post is in partnership with Axiell, our MCN 2016 Market Trends sponsor and originally appeared here


This infographic identifies the current and future strategies of museums and archives using volunteers and crowdsourcing to support their digitisation plans.

Over 100 Museums and Archives from around the world took part in research conducted by MCN and Axiell

See how your institution compares to others when using volunteers and crowdsourcing for digitization. 30% of respondents have less than 10% of their collections digitized; 80% agree that volunteers represent a significant opportunity to support their digitization efforts; but over 85% believe the time investment required to leverage volunteers is a challenge.

Download the Full Infographic Here

Get Your Free Detailed Report

This survey was run as part of research for a free detailed report: Digitising Collections: Getting Ahead With Volunteers & Crowdsourcing.

This report explores the current digitisation strategies of today’s collections management organisations, drawing on the views of more than 100 professionals working in museums, archives, galleries and other collections institutions.

In particular, we focus on how readily they are integrating volunteers into their approach and moving to crowdsourcing to increase their rate of digitisation. Examples from more than 10 institutions world-wide provide insight into how these strategies are working in practice.

The report is due to be published by the end of March.


MCN 2016 Sessions – Professional Forum: Making Digital and Data Literacy More Inclusive


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.




MCN 2016 Sessions – Human-Centered Community Engagement in a Digital World: Lessons from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museums History Unfolded Project

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.




MCN 2016 Sessions – Making 3,000 collections accessible through Art UK

Making 3,000 collections accessible through Art UK
Friday, November 4, 2016 9:00 AM – 9:15 AM
Session Leader : Cristiano Bianchi

Launched on the 24th February 2016, Art UK is the new online home for art from every public collection in the United Kingdom. Art UK has worked in partnership with over 3,000 public collections to showcase the art the UK owns. All in all it represents a massive collaboration between UK public institutions that own art. The website features over 210,000 paintings by over 38,000 artists. These artworks are in more than 3,000 museums, universities, town halls, hospitals and other public buildings across the United Kingdom. Most of this art is not on public view. Such offering will expand in the coming years as collections will be able to upload new artworks independently. Art UK is the result of a large-scale, privately funded, digitisation campaign, conducted across the whole country by the Public Catalogue Foundation, over the last 10 years. The project initially focused on photographing, cataloguing and publishing every oil painting that the public owns, many of which have never been seen before. This presentation will cover how Art UK and Keepthinking worked together on the website and made all of this possible in less than one year.




MCN 2016 Sessions – National Museum Website Visitor Motivation Survey: Findings and Applications

National Museum Website Visitor Motivation Survey: Findings and Applications

Thursday, November 3, 2016 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM

Session Leader: Martin Spellerberg, Developer, Spellerberg Associates
Speaker: Alli Burness, Experience Designer, ThinkPlace
Speaker: Susan Edwards, Associate Director, Digital Content, The Hammer Museum
Speaker: Jacques Haba, Digital Media Manager, Nasher Sculpture Center
Speaker: Jonathan Munar, Director of Digital Media and Strategy
Speaker: Tricia Robson, Assistant Director of Web and Digital Production
Speaker: Sarah Wambold, Clyfford Still Museum
Speaker: Jessica Warchall, Communications Manager, The Andy Warhol Museum

In 2015-16, cultural organizations across the United States, joined by partners in Canada and Australia, banded together to better understand museum website visitor motivation. This was not just a research study, but a community of museums looking to better understand their online audiences. The survey comprised a single question about what motivated users in going to the website that day. Focussing on identity-related motivations (rather than demographics or behaviors), the survey responses aligned with museum researcher John Falk’s Predictive Model for Museum Visitation—Explorer, Facilitator, Professional/Hobbyist, Recharger, and Seeker. Led by Sarah Wambold, Director of Digital Media at the Clyfford Still Museum, and Marty Spellerberg, of Spellerberg Associates, the project culls more than 16 weeks of data across 23 different museum websites. This is the first survey to utilize Falk’s framework online, the first focused primarily on small- and medium-sized organizations, and the first in the US to view the data in aggregate. The study provided representatives from participating museums the opportunity to discuss their findings, highlighting patterns that emerged across the various institutions. In order to facilitate those exchanges, professionals from each institution have met online using Slack, asking questions and sharing knowledge. In this forum we will bring this dialogue to life and the voices of MCN attendees into the conversation.




MCN 2016 Sessions – User Experience Design Considerations for Multi-Museum Online Collaborations

User Experience Design Considerations for Multi-Museum Online Collaborations

Friday, November 4, 2016 3:30 PM – 4:00 PM
Session Leader: Duane Degler, Principal, Design for Context
Co-Presenter: Lesley Humphreys, Senior User Experience Designer, Design for Context

We increasingly engage in projects where we are asked to accommodate multiple collections, sites, and institutions into the planning, data modeling, and overall user experience. And we see a trend where grant funders actively encourage collaborations, so these kinds of digital projects may become common. It is important to think beyond the typical patterns of grouping sets of objects into institution-specific views, or presenting a mash-up as if it is just one big collection. As we think about collaborations involving online collections, we have identified human-centered user experience considerations and requirements to share with the community. It is common to see very carefully curated content such as catalogs for touring exhibitions. But open data and APIs create the opportunity to create less formally crafted applications. Designs must consider the degree of freedom that users can enjoy. What new pathways between objects become possible? Who creates – or discovers – them? How do users understand themes when they move among different museums’ works? Is vocabulary used in similar ways, or is there a “meta” descriptive language needed? Can different objects and media interact together, not just be experienced sequentially? And at what points does “where” matter – how do we give a sense of location for the physical works, without them feeling separated from each other? Our projects often focus on linked data as the underlying model, which can create new types of relationships between institutions’ data. An important aspect of multi-museum collaborations is supporting staff as they prepare and review their information. Applications must provide insights into the scope of information, the degree of alignment between data sets from different institutions (dead-ends or conflicts that affect user navigation), and ways of identifying changes across the whole. These capabilities help all collaborators support not only resulting applications, but also each other.






MCN 2016 Session – Blending the Tangible and Digital to Craft New Co-Designed Interactions for Museums

Blending the tangible and digital to craft new co-designed interactions for museums

Thursday, November 3, 2016 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Session Leader: Nicholas Dulake, Mr, Sheffield Hallam University

The technology that underpins the Internet of Things, offers ways to embed interactivity within the exhibition: microprocessors, sensors, and actuators can be concealed within reactive spaces and smart objects that seamlessly blend with their surroundings. This offers a new perspectives on how to deliver digital curated content in the context of a museum visit through, for example, smart artefacts. Through a series of museum case studies we will discuss how smart artefacts can bridge the gap between the physical and the digital: Can this integration give the visitor an enriched experience and higher level of object association? And to what level do these smart objects act as transitional objects for the curated content? Our observations / evaluations show that the act of holding an object empowers the visitor and engages them to a deeper level. The curator’s role in the multidisciplinary team is then that of a storyteller that blends the content and interpretation with aspects of the visitor’s interactive experience. The knowledge gained through several case studies was instrumental to the creation of a toolkit that aims at bringing the potential and power of the internet of things on the exhibition floor. By using the cloud-based toolkit, cultural heritage and museum professionals can embed digital content into smart objects and spaces with just a few clicks. This opens up possibilities for exhibition creation using design thinking and fast prototyping. Museums can then explore a wide range of possible visitors’ experiences in an experimental environment to assess whether ‘it works!’ or not. Starting from the case studies the presentation will discuss the journey for idea to implantation.




MCN 2016 Sessions – ‘We Are Going to Need a Bigger Boat’ Building Collaboration at the Philadelphia Museum of Art


We Are Going to Need a Bigger Boat’ Building Collaboration at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Friday, November 4, 2016 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Session Leader: William Weinstein, John H. McFadden and Lisa D. Kabnick Director of Information and Interpreti, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Co-Presenter: Christopher Atkins, The Agnes and Jack Mulroney Associate Curator of European Painting and Scul, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Co-Presenter: Joshhua Helmer, Assistant Director for Interpretation, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Co-Presenter: Ariel Schwartz, Kathy and Ted Fernberger Associate Director for Interactive Technology at t, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Co-Presenter: Jessica Milby, Assistant Director for Collection Information, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Many organizations are implementing strategic plans that rely on the increased use of digital tools in all aspects of their institution’s work. While each organization approaches this challenge differently, it is becoming clear that success depends on a fundamental change in how we work across our institutions. The reality is that doing this type of work requires learning how to truly collaborate/trust one another. How do you change institutional culture to embrace collaboration? How do you organize work around teams? How do you make sure everyone understands the bigger goals and works towards them? How do you get people to respect each other’s expertise? This panel will outline the methods that the Philadelphia Museum of Art is using to address these questions. Collaboration has become a key element in defining strategically aligned interpretative strategies, prioritizing projects, organizing content creation, establishing project teams and communicating with staff. It is hard work (and there are lots of sharks in the water) but we have found that the results are transformational . The panel will present several short case studies on how the museum plans, and manages cross-departmental digital interactive/interpretive projects. Bill Weinstein and Josh Helmer will present how digital thinking is being encouraged throughout the institution, Ariel Schwartz and Chris Atkins will discuss the Content Presentation and Interpretive Group (CPIG) a cross department group focusing curatorial staff on the challenges of creation interpretive content, Jessica Milby will discuss the Collections Information Committee Working Group which is responsible for aligning cataloging standards on interpretive goals. Attendees will get an overview of how collaboration works (and doesn’t) in a large organization and come away with strategies for change regardless of institution size.





MCN 2016 Sessions – Working with Digital Humanities Students in Museums: Why We Should, How We Can

Slide from Working with Digital Humanities Students, MCN2016 session


Working with Digital Humanities Students in Museums: Why We Should, How We Can
Friday, November 4, 2016 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Session Leader: Philip Leers, Project Manager, Digital Initiatives, Hammer Museum
Co-Presenter: Max Evjen, Exhibitions Technology Specialist, Michigan State University Museum
Speaker: Brinker Ferguson, PhD candidate, University of California Santa Cruz
Speaker: Alex Gonzalez, Public Programs Fellow, The Studio Museum in Harlem/The Museum of Modern Art
Speaker: Kristen Mapes, Digital Humanities Coordinator, Michigan State University
The emergence of Digital Humanities programs in colleges and universities has had the fortuitous side effect of producing students with skills that museums desperately need. Digital Humanities students are fluent in digital interpretation, accustomed to using empirical data to illustrate theoretical arguments, and trained to think critically about our institutions. They have a lot to offer museums, and museums have a lot to offer them in turn. This panel will explore the possibilities of forging partnerships between Museums and Digital Humanities programs, and the conditions necessary for making those partnerships meaningful, sustainable, and mutually beneficial. For example, the Hammer Museum designed and taught a course through the UCLA Digital Humanities Department, wherein students developed digital resources about their campus sculpture garden. In another example, the Michigan State University Museum has employed a Digital Humanities student as an influential voice in designing their digital strategy. This panel will include representatives from these museums and Digital Humanities programs and others to discuss in detail how joint projects came about, how relationships between partners were managed, and how collaborations might continue in the future. Attendees will come away with practicable recommendations for starting such partnerships in their own institutions, and a sense of how transformative those partnerships can be for both student and museum. Learning Outcomes: Awareness of how museums are working within the Digital Humanities. Benefits to museums working with DH students: -Inclusivity: inviting outside voices into your institution. -Outreach: connecting directly with members of a vital student audience. -Mentorship: introducing bright young people to the experience of working in a museum. Benefits to DH students working with museums: -Experience: applying their studies to a real-world project. -Access: to the museum’s staff, infrastructure, collections. -Exposure: via the museum’s platforms. Potential opportunities for partnering with DH programs. Practical steps for creating successful collaborations with DH programs.



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