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The Stewardship Stories project is a collaboration between the ECHO Lake Aquarium & Science Center and WPTZ News Channel 5 (WPTZ) that will prototype a museum-media partnership that combines the interpretive expertise of a science center, the mass public appeal of a television news channel, and the accessibility of a community-driven Web site to engage audiences to take environmental action in their local communities. By creating a new conservation correspondent position producing weekly news segments, the project will provide authentic examples of community members taking responsibility for stewardship of the natural environment while the museum adds tangible 21st-century solutions for meeting the rapidly evolving social and educational needs of audiences.
The Museum of Photographic Arts (MoPA) will develop "Your Photo Here," a project designed to build the capacity of museums to engage with audiences online through an advanced online contest. The project will create open source software to facilitate online submission of user-generated content including photographs, videos, written narratives, and weblinks. The software will also support public voting on the content, thereby encouraging the contest to spread virally through participants' networks of friends, family, and colleagues.
Experience Music Project (EMP) will broaden participation of the museum’s teen audience through the implementation of EMP Top 10—an interactive tool designed to cultivate teens as active contributors to, rather than passive consumers of, popular culture. EMP Top 10 is an in-museum and online activity in which visitors can nominate and vote for favorite songs and compare a dynamic, visitor-generated list to authoritative lists drafted by industry professionals and experts. Top 10 activities will leverage Web-based tools to advance the quality and scope of interactions with EMP’s exhibitions and programs, particularly by youth aged 10-19, a demographic that comprises 24 percent of museum visitors, and whose participatory needs are rapidly changing in response to newly emerging media.
Please Touch Museum and its partner, the Philadelphia Zoo, are planning to develop and pilot a staff training and retention program. The project is an effort to address the desire of several Philadelphia non-profits to hire staff from their neighborhoods in order to combat underemployment and unemployment in their community. It is intended to help improve the local economy, fill available entry-level positions and, most importantly, retain employees from the neighborhood once they’ve been placed in these positions.
The Mattress Factory museum of contemporary art will complete the first phase of development for creating a digital app for iPads called "You Are the Artist!" for children three to six years old. This first phase of the project includes designing the pedagogy, content, look and design, and user-interface plan. Mattress Factory education and media staff will work in collaboration with the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at Carnegie Mellon University and the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC) to research and develop content for the app, which will enable young children to engage with specific works of art in the Mattress Factory’s permanent collection.
The Museum of Art and History at the McPherson Center will use this grant to support the Loyalty Lab project, the goal of which is to develop strategies for small and mid-sized cultural institutions to track, celebrate, and deepen participant engagement. The Loyalty Lab will enable small institutions like the Museum of Art and History to celebrate and cultivate deeper relationships with participants by experimenting with low-tech, low-cost techniques for tracking and rewarding participation. Using customized strategies from the for-profit world of customer relationship management, museum staff and volunteers will work together to explore ways to celebrate active visitor participation, encourage deeper and repeat engagement, and support relationship building in a systematic way. This work will be shared with colleagues at small institutions around the world through a blog-style website documenting the work in real time.
The collection, storage, and care of large objects present ongoing challenges for museums of all sizes. The Center for Wooden Boats will test photogrammetry on large collection items, or macro-artifacts, to measure size and monitor changes over time. Changes in dimension can help alert collections managers to the need for active or preventative conservation treatment. The project team will develop, test, and refine a procedure for using photogrammetry to monitor dimensional stability on a variety of watercraft and other maritime macro-artifacts, resulting in procedures that will ultimately be usable in vastly different museum environments and subject areas.
Despite considerable excitement surrounding the promise of 3D printing, the use of this technology in the museum setting is, as yet, unevaluated. The Art Institute of Chicago will experiment with innovative approaches to audience engagement using 3D technologies. Various programing will be tested on adults, families, teens, and tweens to evaluate the potential impact of 3D printing technologies on engagement with museum collections. The museum will develop guidelines and modular program “recipes” to be shared with other museums and educators.
San Diego Society of Natural History will use popular technology, social software, and digitized natural history collections to reconnect the public with nature. NatureSpace addresses the challenge of making digitized natural history collections, which are traditionally not designed to be accessible to the average person, more engaging through a new user-friendly front-end interface. Working with volunteer organizations interested in interpreting three local natural areas in the San Diego region, the museum will prototype 18 user-centered tools such as scavenger hunts and interpretive walks for the NatureSpace mobile application. The final products will be openly shared with the museum community.
Natural History museums have identified a need to transform their traditional spaces into vital forces for science education. The Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH) will implement “Seeing as a Scientist,” a design-based research initiative to develop and test gallery interventions that have the potential to increase scientific observation skills for family groups. Working with the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE), CMNH will pilot a series of quick changes and additions to dioramas and outline expectations for each. Visitors will be observed to measure the degree of engagement in scientific observation (deliberate looking in order to understand visual evidence)--an essential skill for learning across scientific disciplines. The four most promising interventions will be evaluated to determine which are most successful in providing the necessary support for families to establish shared focus and two-way, science-based conversation. The project will include a blog to share information and to disseminate the results to other museums.