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Thoughts from AAM

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend the American Association of Museums Annual Meeting in Minneapolis with 5,000 of my closest museum friends. What an experience! One reason I enjoy going to this conference is the opportunity to connect with colleagues from across the museum field. There’s nothing like a little cross-departmental collabo to broaden your perspectives about what can be done in a museum.

A packed schedule of events

Sunday, I met up with several hundred #musetech friends as the Media and Technology committee announced winners at the 23rd Annual Muse Awards. The winning entries in a dozen categories came from museums around the world and represented the most innovative and awe-inspiring digital projects happening in museums. The IMA won a Bronze Award in Public Outreach for our video XLVI Reasons to Visit the IMA.

These lucite awards are dang hard to photograph.

The sessions this year were really inspiring. The IMA is evaluating a lot of our mobile experiences (more to follow on this soon) and I feel so inspired by all of the thoughtful approaches presented at the conference. I have written down a couple thoughts and quotes from the sessions I attended- sorry if you saw a lot of these on Twitter already! I have tried to give credit where credit is due, but please let me know if I have taken credit for something you said!

Can Mobile Interpretation also be Social?:

  • How does the social experience mesh with museum created material? – Peter Samis
  • Mobile and social aren’t for everybody. – Peter Samis
  • Know the digital habits of your target audience and make sure your digital plan targets the right audience. – Peter Samis via @artlust
  • Presenters noted inspiration from artists using mobile social elements in their work. Relational aesthetics in contemporary art are informing digital experiences in the museum.
  • Museums can use visitors’ opinions as opportunities to crowdsource first-person content about their collection. – Nancy Proctor
  • A huge portion of visitors/users only want to view content – they are not creators/authors. These ‘lurkers’ are valuable as well and we should provide them with a means for engagement. – Nancy Proctor
  • Mobile can provide opportunities for in-person social experiences that are valuable for different types of visitors.
  • How can the IMA make our mobile tours more friendly to our visitors? What information are our visitors looking for but not finding? This seems obvious but I have been thinking about the implications: Mobile tours should be visitor-centric.
  • How can the IMA use our mobile tours as an opportunity to interact with or listen to our visitors?
  • What special experiences at the IMA could be supported with mobile technology?

Nancy Proctor discusses what to measure with Mobile

Engage on the Go: Mobile Content Delivery:

  • What can we add to the mobile experience that will help visitors with their basic needs? Food, bathrooms, tickets, etc. – Layla Masri
  • Opportunity to add social interaction – only do it if it works! Is it what people want or need?
  • Mobile includes: Pocketable and portable, smart and dumb phones, podcasts and other downloadable material, bring your own device and rentables, mobile websites and large screen websites. – Nancy Proctor
  • Mobile can mean at home or in the gallery; it can be for deep engagement or quick bites.
  • Mobile can be used as a strategy for engaging with the visitor on their terms.
  • How can we use mobile in the galleries that lets people engage with devices comfortably? Liz Neely discussed the roll out of iPads in the galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago and designing secure (yet comfortable) ways for the visitors to use them.
  • Think about possible partnerships – how can we leverage other local institutions to build more content together. How does the IMA fit into the larger needs of a visitor’s life?

Liz Neely discusses multifaceted content

Museum as Prototype

  • Museums can use prototypes and models as a way to test new ideas in the physical gallery.
  • Do museums who are worried about polish and image need to have a space dedicated as “experimental” to allow themselves to use prototypes? Do visitors expect more polish and perfection from a professional institution than a prototype gives them?
  • Can a prototype environment give a visitor more authority to question the voice of the museum?
  • Prototyping allows me to think differently about what curating means. – Christina Chang
  • In order to have an environment for creativity & prototyping, museum staff must have time to think and permission to FAIL.
  • We should allow visitors to use the space in new ways that the museum itself does not organize. – Nina Simon
  • Museums say certain objects are precious. What objects do our visitors say are precious? How can we help them relate to the objects or ideas being presented through ownership of ideas?

I have a lot more to think about, but hope to be back wowing you with inspirational new projects soon. Also, the current plan is to sweep the 2013 Muse Awards, so watch out Baltimore!

Filed under: IMA Staff, New Media, Technology

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