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Sessions: In-Gallery-Education [clear filter]
Thursday, November 5


"Digital Learning" in Museums: New or Passing Trend?
Many museums have formed “Digital Learning” departments within their institution. Managers of new and more established digital learning groups at four museums, the American Museum of Natural History, the John G. Shedd Aquarium, the Field Museum, and the Minnesota Historical Society, will explore the goals of forming these groups.

Questions explored will be: What IS “Digital Learning”? Why form a “Digital Learning” department? What advantages to such groups provide to museums and their audiences? How do these groups fit within their larger institutions?The panel will explore how new “digital learning” experiences actually use “digital” components to extend and connect with the physical. Examples include using the virtual to bridge two different physical locations such as museum spaces and the classroom. The digital is also used to connect people traditionally inaccessible to each other bridging content experts to students, creating citizen scientists. Or, how digital design and 3D printers can create physical objects.

Ultimately, the group will explore how the digital and the physical combine to create 21st century learning experiences for young people and people of all ages.

avatar for Eve Gaus

Eve Gaus

Digital Learning Manager, The Field Museum
Eve Gaus is the digital learning manager at The Field Museum in Chicago, where she manages the Museum’s diverse digital learning portfolio. With a background in library and information science, Eve is interested in inquiry based learning and developing community through mobile engagement... Read More →
avatar for Barry Joseph

Barry Joseph

VP of Digital Experience, Girl Scouts
For 18 years, I have been a driving force in both youth development and digital learning. First at Global Kids, a NYC-based after school organization, then at the American Museum of Natural History, I oversaw the design, supervision, and creative visioning for a slate of over 100... Read More →
avatar for Heather Schneider

Heather Schneider

Assistant Director of Learning Programs, John G. Shedd Aquarium
Heather started her career at Shedd Aquarium as a student and teacher programs educator in 2002. Her path at Shedd also included the coordination of student, youth, family and adult programs within Shedd's Learning department. She has most recently managed Shedd's Digital Learning... Read More →

Jennifer Sly

Manager, Minnesota Historical Society
Jennifer Sly leads the new Digital Learning and Assessment group at the Minnesota Historical Society. Other projects she has led are the Play the Past and “Reinventing the Field Trip for the 21st Century” projects.  For the past 15 years, Jennifer has worked at the intersection... Read More →

Thursday November 5, 2015 2:30pm - 3:30pm
Great Lakes A2 Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403
Friday, November 6


Experience, Traverse, Inhabit: Bringing a Sense of Place to Digital Navigation
What does it mean to navigate a digital space? Museums have long considered ways in which we can guide people through our physical spaces. Since the first museum websites of the late 1990s, digital platforms have given us a set of new “spaces” for our visitors to explore.

In this session, we will discuss various digital experiences through the lens of how people move through them and how they are related—or not related—to similar physical experiences. How do we define these digital spaces and open them to our visitors? What will they do while they are there? What will their experience feel like? Who will they encounter? 

Greg Albers, Digital Publications Manager at Getty Publications, will consider the visual and physical terrain we cover when we read, the objects (words) we encounter there, the markers we use in mapping our way through long texts, and how journeys like these might be supported when we design texts for digital reading.

Emily Lytle-Painter, Sr. Digital Content Manager at LACMA, will share insights about observing exploratory and non-didactic visitor experiences in physical museums, and examine how museums might create atmospheric online spaces and invite visitors to spend time beyond simply seeking information.

Rob Stenzinger, UX Designer, Coder, Facilitator on Target’s EGI Team (Enterprise Growth Initiatives, the team responsible for building disruptive innovation ventures), will share several projects from the retail sphere and discuss how discovering the goals and intent of a guest can inform the feedback we offer in a digital space, which in turn provides a sense of place and accomplishment.

The session will be conducted as three short presentations, each followed by discussion and Q&A.

avatar for Emily Lytle-Painter

Emily Lytle-Painter

Sr. Digital Content Manager, LACMA

avatar for Greg Albers

Greg Albers

Digital Publications Manager, Getty Publications
avatar for Rob Stenzinger

Rob Stenzinger

UX Designer, Coder, and Facilitator

Friday November 6, 2015 11:30am - 12:30pm
Calhoun Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403


The Promise and Practice of Digital Storytelling
Museum experts have acknowledged that “books on a wall,” even when crafted by the most scholarly experts in a given field, sometimes fail to engage audiences. Storytelling, on the other hand, is a powerful way to express humanity’s interpretation of art, science, design, and history to a wide range of museum audiences. Now, “Digital Storytelling” is in the air, upping the ante and promising to enhance these connections, to tell more stories, and, perhaps, allow a more diverse audience to derive multiple interpretations of those stories. Museum professionals feel they should be exploring Digital Storytelling, but what, exactly, is Digital Storytelling, and why do we need it? Is it an app, a website, an interactive, a video? Does it need to span an entire exhibit or can it punctuate and co-exist within a more traditional exhibit? Can it truly prompt different interactions with museum spaces and other museum visitors? And if so, are there best practices that you can use as guidelines? Most importantly, how can museums ensure that their Digital Storytelling enhances humanities themes, in ways that drive deeper engagement, as opposed to distracting from them?

At the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, storytelling is our bread and butter, and we’ve used it to bring to life the histories of ordinary, working-class immigrant families. Woven into the family stories are humanities interpretation of the broader contexts our families faced. Events such as the Panic of 1873, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, the temperance movement, or the 1869 St. Patrick’s Day parade reach our visitors through the family stories. In creating our 2012 exhibit Shop Life, in collaboration with Potion, we aimed to keep our traditional storytelling while incorporating digital technology. The interactive, in the form of an interactive shop counter, allows our visitors to experience one space in three different time periods, and enables them to directly explore primary sources on shopkeepers from those periods. Shop Life won the Gold AAM Muse award and was critical to the museum’s growth in exploring a new kind of visitor engagement, and to its very conceptualization of space and exhibits. While there is no clear-cut definition of Digital Storytelling as it applies to museums, conversations with museum professionals have emphasized the critical importance of working with the right partners. The very process of creating the digital storytelling exhibit must be well conceived. This is not simply a matter of handing over content to the design team, but it’s a shared, iterative experience in which partners explore the content and experiment with different ways to convey it. Further, formative testing of exhibits allow the designers and curators to assess whether the humanities themes resonate with visitors, and whether visitors enjoy the various aspects and elements of the exhibit.While the excitement over new tools and formats has sometimes led museums to add technology for the sake of technology, we will step back and carefully consider how we use digital media. We take seriously the findings of Dr. Amelia Wong, who commented that, “It is helpful to remember that as much as digital media have complicated storytelling, they have not reinvented it.” Indeed, she argues, to best use the power of digital media and its potential for a spatial dimension and interactivity, museum curators must pay attention to the traditional questions about story and audience.

This panel aims to consider the following: How can museums enhance their storytelling power and their investigation of content through the incorporation of well-conceived digital elements? How do museums leverage their existing spaces and interactivity for digital storytelling? How do museums prioritize and select the right formats (websites/apps/games/interactive installations) to tell their stories?


Annie Polland

Senior Vice President, Education & Programs, Lower East Tenement Museum
avatar for Phillip Tiongson

Phillip Tiongson

Principal, Potion
Phillip R. Tiongson is the Principal and Creative Director of Potion. Drawing on his training and passions as an artist, software engineer, and storyteller, Phillip leads the studio in creating its groundbreaking interactive experiences. Potion’s signature installation projects... Read More →

Friday November 6, 2015 11:30am - 12:30pm
Great Lakes A2 Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403


Museum Collections and the Personalization of Education
In the fall of 2015, the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access will launch a minimum viable product of a platform for the discovery, adaption, creation, and sharing of classroom resources based on museum collections.

The Smithsonian Learning Lab (learninglab.si.edu) is the result of a substantial rethinking of how the diverse digitized collections and digital resources from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centers, the National Zoo, and more, can be used together, for learning. It is a big dream, an aspiration to make these resources more accessible and more useful to teachers, students, parents, and anyone on a lifelong quest to learn more. It hopes to deliver the Smithsonian in ways that make learning joyful, personal, and shareable.

The Learning Lab will be a web-accessible digital platform that enables the discovery of millions of digital assets from the Smithsonian’s galleries, museums, libraries, and archives as well as platform-authored learning resources presented in highly-adaptable and easily-sharable formats. It combines these assets (1.3 million digitized collections, articles, video and other rich media; and more than 2,000 learning resources; previously not available in a unified way) with tools that allow for object- and collection-level annotation and assessment. It too, we hope, will become a community, both within the Smithsonian and around the world, who collaborate, create, and share with each other new resources for learning.

The Smithsonian now receives many more digital than in-person visits, a trend likely to continue across the museum sector. We are committed to understanding and serving the unique needs of these diverse digital visitors and enabling them to access and use our content. While the Learning Lab’s features are anchored in three years of research (published in a peer-reviewed paper by Museums and the Web in 2015) and best practices in both K–12 and museum education, as well as national needs and trends in education, what we are beginning to observe is users demonstrating use of the collections in ways our own educators might never imagine. As research has shown, these uses (often characterized by format and subject disambiguation) may not be wholly novel for how our collections and the information around them have traditionally made their way into the classroom (a space more and more, in the United States dominated by pressures for alignment to core standards), however with the data provided by the Learning Lab, the Smithsonian can now observe, quantify, and understand these behaviors, such ashow cross-disciplinary resources are aggregated,how non-Smithsonian resources are used in conjunction with our own,how assessments are used alongside collections, andhow students demonstrate understanding through teacher-led and autonomous resource creation.

This MCN presentation will share how insights gained from initiatives, like the Learning Lab, can improve our institution’s ability to connect digitized collections to the challenges and opportunities of the classroom. It hopes to illuminate the possibility that we may get exactly what we asked for in creating platforms like these, ones designed to encourage creative and unexpected uses of our collections and resources. Are we on the verge of a whole new utility for museums and the collections they house?

avatar for Darren Milligan

Darren Milligan

Senior Digital Strategist, Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access
Hi. I lead strategy for digital outreach at the Center for Learning and Digital Access at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. There I research and develop services for making online museum assets accessible and useful to educators and learners, including producing experiences... Read More →

Friday November 6, 2015 3:15pm - 3:45pm
Harriet Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403


Digital Collections in the Classroom: Teachers and Museums Working Together
Museums have lots of stuff: objects, maps, photos, documents. History teachers love to show this “stuff” to students to help them understand their place in history. But getting the stuff to the students and actually using it can be tricky.

Websites and online collections repositories have made it easier to bring these primary sources into the classroom. However, many teachers are still not accessing them. We asked why and started collaborations with teachers to learn more about how teachers are -- and are not -- using digital primary sources. We talked to teachers at conferences, focus groups and trainings. We asked questions like how do teachers find these resources? what’s do they do once they find it? what makes an online repository useful to you?

We quickly realized that while there are power digital primary source users, many teachers are starting at a very basic level when it comes to using these amazing resources.It became clear that teachers want and need more support in finding and using these resources. It also became clear that we needed to work with teachers in order to understand how they used these sources and how they wanted them delivered. The collaboration with teachers has increased as we realized that museums and teachers working together will expand access and ensure that digital collections are contributing to younger generations’ knowledge of history and critical-thinking skills. Watching teachers use digital primary sources in the classroom has been an excellent learning tool. MNHS staff have created an informal project collaborating with individual teachers to provide them with exactly the sources they want, and then watching how the sources are used with students.

This session will discuss findings of research with teachers about their skills in finding and using digital primary sources, and, more importantly, will have a teacher demonstrate how he uses these resources in his classroom. The presenters will discuss their ongoing collaboration, including the recent publication of an iBook for teachers about using digital primary sources in the classroom.

avatar for Shana Crosson

Shana Crosson

Academic Technologist, University of Minnesota
I am passionate about how technology can to create and enhance learning experiences that reach students with all learning styles.


Craig Roble

United States History Enthusiast and Apple Distinguished Educator

Friday November 6, 2015 3:45pm - 4:15pm
Harriet Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403
Saturday, November 7


Art Doppelgangers
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is celebrating its 100th year throughout 2015 with Birthday Year events and surprises, both in the galleries and in the greater community. In the fall of 2014, Birthday Year specialists at the MIA went to the MIA’s master framebuilder to ask a question: could he make realistic-looking frames for reproductions of four of the MIA’s most iconic paintings?

Frame maker Kurt Nordwall and Lead Collections Photographer Charles Walbridge hatched a plan: they could make 3D scans of the paintings’ frames and have a local maker cut the reproduction frames on a large CNC machine, which in this case uses a computer-controlled router to carve shapes into wood. Kurt would then finish the raw wood frames with primer, paint, wax, and dirt.

The finished frames (and the art in them) look amazing! The four reproduction artworks have popped up around Minneapolis at local restaurants and other businesses. Rembrandt’s Lucretia was installed at a busy gas station and convenience store; Chaim Soutine’s Side of Beef was installed at The Strip Club, a local steakhouse.

The Case Study presentation will include:- scanning the frames in-gallery with free photogrammetry software (123D Catch)- cleaning up the scans for CNC routing- making the reproduction art and frame blanks- carving the frames at Nordeast Makers- finishing the frames- the art out in the world

avatar for Charles Walbridge

Charles Walbridge

Photographer, Minneapolis Institute of Art
Charles Walbridge is Lead Collections Photographer at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia). He has worked at Mia for the past 15 years and the work he does includes still photography, 3D scanning, conservation photography, image data standards, and museum sustainability.

Saturday November 7, 2015 9:00am - 9:15am
Calhoun Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403


One Small Step: Transforming the Exhibition Process and the Digital/Physical Connection
One Small Step: Transforming the Exhibition Process and the Digital/Physical Connection

How early is digital visitor experience considered in the exhibition design process? Is it integrated from the start or added on at the end? How does digital experience become viewed as an important element of the overall museum visitor experience? Digital transformation may not happen overnight, but every now and then a project comes along that serves as a catalyst for digital transformation in exhibition practice. 

This case study builds off a recent project at the National Air and Space Museum, a temporary exhibition entitled “Outside the Spacecraft: 50 Years of Extra-Vehicular Activity,” and how it became a positive example of collaborative practice and integrated digital and physical exhibition design. Following on the heels of a newly developed digital engagement strategy, at a time of renewed openness to change, the project brought together a team of forward-thinking, motivated staff who collectively considered the digital visitor experience to be an integral part of the exhibition process. This allowed the team to consider audience and learning objectives across digital and physical contexts, embracing the unique ways in which visitors consume content and engage with museum exhibitions depending on where they are and the platforms they are using.

With the digital experience accomplished a small budget and tight timeline may be subtle, the positive impact on internal practice continues to resonate. For cultural heritage professionals hoping to advance the digital experience, this project demonstrates how focusing on process, internal culture, team dynamics, and an integrated digital/physical approach from project start can be critical to success.

avatar for Victoria Portway

Victoria Portway

Head of Digital Experience, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum


Sarah Banks

Manager of Online Engagement, National Air and Space Museum
avatar for Jennifer Levasseur

Jennifer Levasseur

Museum Specialist, Smithsonian Institution

Saturday November 7, 2015 9:15am - 9:30am
Calhoun Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403


Putting Your Raspberry Pi Project Back on Track
What do you do when your project breaks down completely, once it’s installed in a gallery?

Two days before opening, after weeks of collaboration with electricians and electronics gurus, our installation for the San Diego Model Railroad Museum’s Centennial Railway Garden was off the rails. Our three credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi computers were mysteriously dropping off the wireless network; the Node.js server running on them was sluggish; and sometimes the setup failed to trigger lights and sounds on the model, hanging completely until the iPads timed out and forced a reload.

Over the next day and a half, we turned the whole thing around—rewiring the Raspberries, overhauling the network setup, and learning a tremendous amount about the command line and Linux configuration files in the process. Not only was project back on track, but it’s been a hit among the patrons who have visited in the short time that it’s been open.

In this fast-paced case study, we’ll break down everything we learned into clear audience takeaways so you can get rolling with the cheap Raspberry Pi, from initial provisioning to startup scripts to WiFi shibboleths. We’ll cover the joys of Node.js and websockets for quick prototyping, and discuss best practices for using it and maintaining in your gallery projects. Finally, we’ll switch tracks to project management for emerging technologies, exploring ways you can properly budget for cataclysmic derailment on a shoestring, and find problems sooner rather than later.

Working with electronics can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ll have you running full steam in no time.


Jason Alderman

Experience Designer / Owner, Cloud Chamber

Saturday November 7, 2015 9:30am - 9:45am
Calhoun Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403


How a Botanic Gardens Used Technology to Share Its Hidden Scientific Research
The Denver Botanic Gardens connects visitors to its researchers at the new Science Pyramid building and interactive exhibit. The Gardens not only provides a beautiful landscape of plants to enjoy, but also a laboratory for DNA investigation, an herbarium for decades of specimen collections, and a living museum that engages in research around the world. Sadly, most visitors never knew this! The solution became the realization of a futuristic vision: a combination of stunning physical design, and creative digital interactives. Suddenly, the behind-the-scenes work was brought to the forefront and visitors were connecting directly with researchers, and seeing the garden around them through a scientific lens.

At the MCN presentation, the Gardens’ Digital Content Specialist will share the exhibit team’s style of digital storytelling, and specifically how they transform data, research papers, and field work into an exciting exhibit. One other incredible detail is that the entire exhibit is bilingual in English and Spanish. This was a first for the Gardens, and the challenge was not only in translation for the new text and audio, but also in adapting existing digital interactives to match and provide the same, easy bilingual switching (a Science On a Sphere globe with a very 1990’s menu had to go!). Discussion will also examine the cross-disciplinary approach, where multiple departments (research, exhibits, interpretation, IT, and more) worked with an outside vendor to develop the new exhibit space.

Highlights include environmental lighting driven by the weather, a user-controllable topographic table that shows ecosystem ranges and expandable content, exploratory audio and video content that encourages visitors to look at things differently (like a scientist), and an area for demonstrations that integrate objects and personal interpretation into the otherwise high-tech space. The content management system makes it possible for the science to come alive for the visitors. The practical capability to swiftly change, update, and provide relevant content into the permanent, physical exhibit features provides a lively feeling and immediacy to visitors. This combination now provides the unique opportunity for the researchers to interact with the public, both in the content and in the space. Sharing new and relevant information about where Gardens visitors live and inspiring and training them to participate in real-world, citizen science initiatives has spawned a continued cycle of discovery, education, and action that supports the organization’s mission. The Gardens exhibits team would encourage other museums with traditional visitor experiences to step beyond the normal venues of presentation, allow a creative vision to form, and embrace what modern technology can provide for visitors.

avatar for Gavin Culbertson

Gavin Culbertson

IT and AV Administrator, Denver Botanic Gardens
My office is the "Science Pyramid" - what more do you need to know?Interestes/knowledge base: filmmaking, storytelling, digital media, museums, nonprofit, exhibits, project management, web apps, projection systems, technology.

Saturday November 7, 2015 10:15am - 10:45am
Harriet Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403


The Fourth Platform: The People Part
For the past two decades, museums have embraced the technology revolution by producing ever-smarter and more effective digital tools for interpretation and visitor engagement. However, in our zeal to make smart digital tools that serve our audiences, many museums have neglected the very best visitor engagement and informational resource we have: people.

A museum’s public-facing staff--its “fourth platform”--has the potential to be as important as print publications, web and mobile resources, and gallery walls for telling museum stories, sharing knowledge, and creating empathetic and personalized experiences for guests. Projects such as the Dallas Museum of Art’s Friends initiative--lauded for the groundbreaking technology platform that provides the DMA and its partners with rich data about visitor behaviors and preferences--rely heavily on the human touch to support and encourage participants, representing a pendulum swing away from digital-only practices and toward the thoughtful and strategic use of human talent.

Borrowing technology and tools from the hospitality and retail industries, as well as from successful private-sector organizations such as Disney, museums are getting serious about the role of public-facing staff in both welcoming and educating our guests. In this session, attendees will hear about a range of new approaches to combining technology with visitor service from an outstanding panel that includes musetech veterans as well as fresh faces new to the sector. The panel will discuss new methods for onboarding and training staff using tools such as learning management systems, free-choice video, and tools for visitor observation; provide tips and tricks for engaging and training underused resources such as security, restaurant, and store personnel; and engage with attendees in an open discussion of current and future best practices in the use of technology to support public-facing staff.


Susan Chun

Chief Content Officer, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago


Eric Bruce

Head of Visitor Experience, Minneapolis Institute of Art
avatar for Rosanna Flouty

Rosanna Flouty

New York University
avatar for Heather Hart

Heather Hart

Director of IT, The Broad

Saturday November 7, 2015 10:15am - 11:15am
Great Lakes A1 1300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55403, United States


Lo(o)se Your Structure! Flexibility in Teen Programming
One-size-fits-all solutions are getting ever further away from the reality of our museums today. It's evident with all of our audiences, and when you run education programs for teens, you have a chance to get immediate feedback on what works and what doesn't.

This presentation highlights some of the ways the Brooklyn Museum has been approaching new teen programming. While we have several long-established, much-tweaked, and proven-successful teen programs, we have also spent the last few years exploring alternative models we might offer the ever-increasing pool of teens who express interest in joining us. We will use this session to highlight two of those programs, which offer two different models of flexibility and adaptation.

NYC Haunts was a summer program focused on digital game design in the Museum's galleries. Students spent their time exploring the galleries, learning the basics of game design, and creating a mobile game to help visitors uncover a (fictional... or IS IT?) mystery by closely examining collection objects for clues. This program is a successful part of Global Kids' Online Leadership Program and has been run in collaboration with schools and libraries. The Brooklyn Museum collaboration (run by a team of Global Kids and Brooklyn Museum staff) was the first time this program expanded to a museum setting, as well as the first time the game design software (TaleBlazer) was used to create an indoor game. Adapting the program to these new parameters required some creative thinking, problem solving, and iterative testing, all of which were also part of the game design process itself.

The program design and execution itself became a model of the principles the program sets out to teach teens. BKM Digital Artizens: Feminist Project is the newest on the Brooklyn Museum's roster of teen programming. It is a grant-funded, three-year program with a dedicated coordinator who is creating the program from the ground up. The program will put a feminist lens on how art history, politics, and pop culture combine and offer teens a chance to explore the Brooklyn Museum (home to the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art) collections. The participants will be the driving voice to create a digital guide to all these issues, but how that will play out is still to be discovered. The outcomes of this program are yet to be seen. So are the outputs. It is a program purposefully built with an inherent reliance on flexibility and adaptation.

Our museum's mission includes phrases like "the unique experience of each visitor", "the primacy of the visitor experience", and "drawing on both new and traditional tools of communication, interpretation, and presentation". This presentation will offer a glimpse into some of the varying ways we're letting that mission guide our teen programs.

avatar for Rachel Ropeik

Rachel Ropeik

Manager of Public Engagement, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

avatar for Lindsay C. Harris

Lindsay C. Harris

Astor Teen Programs Coordinator, Brooklyn Museum

Saturday November 7, 2015 11:30am - 12:00pm
Minnetonka Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403