I had the great pleasure of talking with Allegra Burnette, Creative Director of Digital Media at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Allegra and her department oversee all the ‘public facing’ media at the Museum which includes the design and production for the Museum's Web site, MoMA.org, as well as interpretive kiosks and displays. Their focus has been on developing the experience for the online visit, as well as the visit to the museum.
Audio Tours and iTunes U
Using iTunes U to extend network and reach - 20,000 downloads a month
As a result of a Bloomberg Grant, MoMA has been able to make its audio programs available for free, including online for download without being in conflict with any revenue stream. Most museums have to create new content for the web because they have to charge a fee for their audio tours.
“The grant from Bloomberg not only enabled us to offer the audio program for free within the Museum, but it provided the opportunity to repurpose our audio tours for use online. What this means in part is that you can download the programs to your ipod and bring it with you during your visit or listen at home. We recently extended this initiative by working with Apple and becoming part of their educational program, iTunesU, which was recently expanded when it became part of the iTunes application.
Initially iTunes U was a way for colleges and universities to make lectures and material available through the iTunes interface. In October Apple extended the format to include cultural institutions, and MoMA was in the first group of non-universities to be featured. What that allows us to do is to create an ongoing archive of different content, from our past and present audio programs, to featured lectures and other public programs, and includes both video and audio. It also allows us to link back to additional resources available on MoMA.org.”
FINDING iTUNES U
You can find iTunes U, by opening up the iTunes application and opening iTunes Store if it’s not already open. iTunes U is at the bottom of the iTunes Store menu. MoMA can be found in the “Beyond Campus” Category on the lower right portion of the screen. Sometimes it’s also featured in the graphics in the center section.
“Its been great”, continues Allegra, “We’ve had a lot of people get the audio from MoMA.org, but it also really expands the audience for that material and gets it to an audience we are really trying to reach – educators and students.
The audio tours as well as other material is in the iTunes U. You can listen online or download it.
That’s been one of our big focuses - making sure we are reaching beyond our website and reaching our audience where they happen to be. In the case of students, and educators and scholars, they’re starting to use iTunes U for courses and as a research tool.
What’s nice about this is that we can specify the links here, so for example the guides for teachers or things that we’ve added can link back to materials we have. There’s other supporting links. So its a way to broaden where the content goes but also to say, ‘Hey, if you want more information its available here on MoMA.org.’”
Since they launched in October 2007, they've had about 20,000 downloads a month, which includes anything from full video to short audio clips.
Red Studio & Student Created Podcasts
Participatory Culture - Engaging Students
Red Studio is a project where groups of teens are working with educators at the museum and creating their own podcasts. So far there have been 3 groups of teens working specifically on creating audio podcasts- groups of high school students that work for a 6-8 week period on a project. The first group was experimental to see how the project could work. Students come in and work with educators and someone from Acoustiguide, the audio company MoMA works with. They teach the students about creating audio programs, and the kinds of things they need to think about. Students pick works they are interested in, research them, do the audio, learn how to edit it, and do all the nuts and bolts of the process. Burnette is enthusiastic about the project:
“It’s great. They bring their own take to it, but they have also been engaged and learn about how a professional process works. The result is a looser feeling project then what we get with some of the other audio programs but it still has a basis in teaching at the museum.”
There is a whole Red Studio site for teens, with other activities. So some of the students have been working on the podcasts and some are doing other projects like interviews with artists that are turned into videos.
You Tube Channel
From Video Contest to Time Lapse Photography
MoMA also recently started a YouTube Channel. For a recent popular video for their Richard Serra exhibition, they used time-lapse photography to capture the entire installation process.
Currently there are about 37 videos up now, as well as some film trailers promoting MoMA’s film program.
“It started with an online contest with the ‘Residents’. They had a song that we (MoMA and the Residents) both posted, and then people could make their own video to go with the song. The judges were the ‘Residents’ Band and the curator for the film retrospective at the Museum. The finalists were posted on YouTube and screened as part of the retrospective of the ‘Residents’ Films at MoMA. That was our first exploration into using YouTube, which has since grown to our own channel with close to 40 videos currently.”
'Home Delivery' - and MoMA’s version of BLOGGING
A fun project coming up is ‘Home Delivery’ – about prefab architecture. Five prefab houses are going to be installed in the empty lot next to the museum as part of its exhibition.
Architects are working on their projects at their various factories and then will bring them in to be installed. Each architect will capture the whole process in blog ‘journals’. The postings will include images, video or text.
Says Allegra, “We’re not doing blogs in the tradition sense of an ongoing conversation from a single point of view, but using it in a different way to show the multiple streams of production on the project happening simultaneously. It’s going to be a big experiment as there are many unknowns in the whole process of setting up this exhibition.”
The Right Tool For The Right Project -
Second Life - Build or Visit?
Allegra talks about the approach to web interactions....
“A lot of it is thinking about where people are going and how we meet them in that space, not for the sake of technology but which format makes the right sense. YouTube made sense for the ‘Residents” and a type of blog format is what’s going to work for ‘Home Delivery’. But it’s important to us to match the content, the goals, and the technology in a way that they all are able to play off of and support each other.”
Paola Antonelli, curator in the Architecture and Design Dept, hosted an event in 2nd Life not long ago. But rather then try to reproduce the Museum in 2nd life, MoMA felt that hosting an event made more sense. As Burnette notes,
“Somebody like the San Francisco Exploratorium is doing a lot in Second Life. For them it makes so much sense to have a space there, because so much of what they are doing is very hands on and fits, like their 3D activities or flying around planets. For now, event-based initiatives is what we have been focusing on in this space, but who knows where this could lead?”
‘Design and the Elastic Mind’ and Twittervision:
I initially contacted Allegra because of an email blast I’d gotten from Biz Stone. I almost never read them, but for some reason I opened this one last week...
Twitter at the MoMA
Twittervision, a popular Twitter API project, is included in a
show at the New York Museum of Modern Art titled "Design and the
Elastic Mind." The show explores the relationship between science
and design and is open from February 24 to May 12, 2008.
Twittervision, created by Dave Troy is this cool little app that’s a mashup between google maps and Twitter, where you can see twitter posts in real time mashed up onto where in the world they are coming from.
Troy has also created another version called Flickrvision that mashes google maps with photos that have been uploaded to the Flickr photo-sharing site.
These are part of the ‘Design and The Elastic Mind’ exhibit also curated by Paola Antonelli, It is a fascinating look at the intersection of design, technology and science, how they come together and how they play off of each other. The exhibit contains an online piece that captures images and videos from some of the exhibits at the MoMA.
The exhibit includes all sorts of intriguing items, from the video project called ‘Lightweeds’ - of plants that grow and respond based on the weather outside, to the ‘Shadow Monsters’ – which takes your image and then adds ‘monsters’ to it.
Allegra says... “So many of these objects – some of them may not be so eye catching initially, but each as a story about why they are there...” and they look way cool.
A must see for me for next visit to Big Apple.