Posts Tagged ‘“san jose museum of art”’

Museums and Twitter: A PC Idea

Every once in a while a great idea comes out of merging unique items – peanut butter and jelly, chocolate and peanut butter, salt water and taffy all come to mind. I recently had a revelation when I crossed Nina Simon’s and Koven Smith’s write ups about institutions using Twitter with a few sites I recently came across.

twitter_logo

A few weeks ago I found myself on a site called F*** You 2008. The site aggregates Twitter messages with the term “f***you2008” by searching for the phrase in recent tweets using what appears to be some fancy Ruby scripting. For the most part these messages include expressive comments about money lost, jobs lost, or any other unfortunate event associated with 2008. While I don’t totally agree with the language used on the site, though it is pretty funny, I was intrigued by how it was able to display comments directed at a specific subject.

Another site I came across recently almost does the same thing! www.dearie6.com asks it’s visitors to follow on Twitter the user profile of DearIE6. Once you are following that profile you can send direct messages to it which in turn will be displayed on the site www.dearie6.com. This site is a place where people can comment on their frustrations with the bug-ridden V.6 Internet Explorer browser.

I came across both sites after I had read the recent Twitter related posts on the Museum 2.0 blog and at www.kovenjsmith.com. Both articles address the institutional voice and how it should be leveraged in an online social space such as Twitter. Nina talks about creating a unique experience in your institution around Twitter by posting funny things overheard, behind the scenes info, or interesting facts about the building. This got me thinking…

Since I have a budget of nill-to-none at the museum I’m always trying to think of ways to use the internet to benefit our programs and collection at a low price point. I’ve recently been thinking about ways of commenting on works of art in the permanent collection and how this could be achieved in an engaging and interactive way.

Enter F***you2008 and DearIE6.

Hung Liu - Chinese Profile (Collection of SJMA)

Hung Liu - Chinese Profile (Collection of SJMA)

Let’s say that I wanted to have a page devoted to Hung Liu’s Chinese Profile in our permanent collection. The museum would sign up for a Twitter account with the username @ChineseProfile or @SJMA_ChineseProfile. Visitors, both onsite and online, could then send comments or thoughts via the direct message feature on Twitter which would show up on the @ChineseProfile user page. This would have to happen after the visitor signed up for the service and then started to follow @ChineseProfile. A museum could create a Twitter page specific to an artwork in the collection where people could actively engage with others around the artwork. The work could even engage them back through a curator, registrar, preparator, or all three!

Example Wireframe

Example Wireframe

I like the idea of taking things a step further by utilizing the APIs or widgets offered by many of these web services to bring the experience to our your own website as well. You could create a page on your institutions site and pull the dialogue to it through some scripting with the Twitter APIs. Additionally on the page you could have a large image of the work, maybe a Wikipedia entry describing the work, etc. To illustrate, I have drawn up a wireframe example which you can view in-full by clicking on the thumbnail.

Obviously one of the biggest challenges with utilizing Twitter is the generational gap and trying to gain the art perspective of the older technology-challenged museum visitor. While they might have heard about Twitter by watching CNN or reading about it in this thing called a newspaper, they might never have signed up for any services on the Internet. Then to try and explain the concept of an “@” message sounds even more difficult.

I’m not sure if this is a truly unique idea. Are any museums doing it or something similar? I’d really like to know. I share this information with the larger museum community with the hopes that someone might attempt it and report back. Unfortunately, in my new limited capacity (half-time due to budget issues) I don’t think I will have the opportunity to attempt it! Let me/us know if it works out!

You can follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cmalexander

Cultural Connections – Road Trip Video

On December 2, 2008 I was fortunate enough to speak to a large Cultural Connections group at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The topic of the night was visitor participation in the museum experience and included myself along with Stephanie Pau, Manager of Interpretation at SFMoMA; Kathleen McLean of Independent Exhibitions; and Catharine King, Vice President of Exhibitions and Programs from the International Museum of Women. We were all asked to speak by Mandy Smith of Cultural Connections who put together an outstanding program that was attended by about 70 people from Bay Area organizations, institutions, and companies. The group was engaged and had a lot of great questions which made for fun and lively discussion.

The topic I spoke on was a recent video that we made for our exhibition Road Trip at the San Jose Museum of Art. The video acted as both a marketing tool to promote the exhibition and a vehicle for gathering postcards for an interpretive component in it.

Thanks to all that attended and to Mandy Smith for asking me to speak! Here are the slides from the talk:




San Jose Museum of Art Website

URLS: www.sanjosemuseumofart.org/interactive and

www.sanjosemuseumofart.org/podcast/aotw

Parts: XHTML and CSS Development, PHP Hacking, Cloud Computing, RSS Development

SJMA Interactive Landing Page

SJMA Interactive Landing Page

SJMA Artist of the Week Podcast Page

SJMA Artist of the Week Podcast Page

Summary: Adding a page to the San Jose Museum of Art website is no easy task. What was required to make the two pages above work was a lot of hacking of the PHP code and tweaks to the CSS file. It’s difficult trying to stay within the confines set up by the original developers of the site.

The first page is a page that was created for the main purpose of acting as a landing page to our digital content. The museum has been actively building a large archive of audio and video around exhibitions and artwork which we wanted to make available to the public. The videos are embedded around the site on the various exhibition pages so they can be difficult to find. By going to the Interactive page you can quickly access which exhibitions have media content available. Additionally the page has images culled from the SJMA Flickr group and various ways to access our content, i.e. iTunes, YouTube, Flickr and plain old RSS feed, as well as a description of our iPod Touch Tour.

The second page was created in conjunction with our Artist of the Week PodCast which we created in November and December of 2006 for the exhibition New Year, New Gifts. The exhibition drew from the museum’s permanent collection and featured a lot of work that had recently come in. For the podcast we selected 8 works in the exhibit and each week for 8 weeks we delivered a new episode showcasing the artist of one of those works. My colleague, Lucy Larson, and I were fortunate enough to win a 2007 MUSE Award for the museum in the area of Extended Experience. This page utilized the web service Odeo to allow us to embed the audio on the page.

iPod Touch Tour Update

iPod Touch Tour Home Screen

iPod Touch Tour Home Screen

It’s been a while since I posted about the iPod Touch/iPhone prototype tour that I was working on at the San Jose Museum of Art. The last time was in October of 2007. A lot has happened since then including the actual launch of the tour itself. We launched it in May of 2008 in conjunction with a tour we created for Robots: Evolution of a Cultural Icon. For the launch of the tour there were some preparations and changes.

One of the main focuses was to upgrade the wifi in the museum. We were operating with 2 networks. One was used by patrons of the cafe (which was pretty unreliable) and the other was used for exhibitions. For the upgrade we combined the two into one network and added two more access points using HP enterprise grade wireless routers.

The new set-up reaches most parts of the museum. There are a few spotty areas that we will need to focus on should we expand the use of handhelds into galleries other than our two main ones. Another issues that we’ve encountered is the lag time that occurs when you move from the gallery downstairs to the gallery upstairs. This causes a switch from one access point to another. The units pick up the new access point fine, but the lag time occurs when it switches to a different channel. It can take up to a minute for this to happen which you can image could frustrate a visitor. My request to Apple about how the iPod Touch handles channels was unfortunately not answered. Thankfully we have not had a lot of exhibitions where visitors move between access points.

Update: iPod Touch/iPhone Museum Tour from Chris Alexander on Vimeo.

When users select the Robots exhibition from the Exhibitions screen they are presented with a list of artists.

When users select the Robots exhibition from the Exhibitions screen they are presented with a list of artists.

One of the major changes that was made was to the user interface. Basically the tour is a web application similar to what you might see if you navigate to Facebook or Twitter on the iPhone. To construct it I spent a lot of time on the iphonewebdev Google Group reading threads about how to create web apps. One thing that I discovered was a javascript framework that a lot of people were using. The framework called iUI (iPhone User Interface) was developed by Joe Hewitt a developer for Facebook who was working on the iPhone version of the site. The framework mimics the page slide from side to side that the iPhone is so famous for. It also adds AJAX to the mix which helps to speed up the tour by loading only what is requested by the user and nothing extraneous. I downloaded the framework and tweaked the CSS file to make the screens that you currently see above in the video.

The artist page for this particular exhibition included a Curator's Video Label and an Artist's Video Label.

The artist page for this particular exhibition included a Curator's Video Label and an Artist's Video Label.

One other feature that I added was a feedback page.  It has not been very popular usage-wise.  There have only been about 30-40 forms collected and a lot of them are duplicate submissions.  The feature was added more as an experiment than anything else to see if it would be used and to learn from it.  I created the survey using a form creation website called Wufoo.  You can sign up on their website for a variety of different plans ranging from free to $199.99 dollars a month.  The service is great!  You sign-up, create a form and then you are given a snippet of code to embed the form on your site.  You can also adjust the appearance of the form through customized CSS.  While the form works effectively on the iPods, there are some issues with customizing the CSS for it.  There was another iPhone optimized solution that I came a month or two ago which I forgot to bookmark and I have been feverishly trying to find it again.  If I do find it I will post it here.

There are many other updates that I have been trying to experiment with. I will try and share my findings once I have implemented or tested.  I hope to make a post soon about WiFi delivery via web browser vs. locally stored data.

Presentation: Tate Handheld Conference

These are the slides for the presentation that I gave at the Tate Handheld Conference From Audiotours to iPhones. The conference was in London on September 4th and 5th, 2008 and there were about 150 people in attendance. The focus of the presentation was the San Jose Museum of Art’s iPod Touch tour. You can read more about the conference or more about the tour. Whatever tickles your fancy!