Amelia Wong Joins Museum Studies Faculty at GWU

Amelia Wong, currently the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s senior social media strategist, will be joining the fulltime faculty of the Museum Studies Program at George Washington University this fall as an assistant professor. Amelia holds a BA from UCLA in history and a PhD in American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. Amelia’s scholarship focuses on how museums, especially those concerned with democratization, can engage critically with technology for their goals. Her dissertation, “Museums, Social Media, and the Fog of Community,” reflects her research interests and
is the first book-length project about social media in American museums.

At the Holocaust Museum, the Twitter community has grown from 2000 to over 100,000 people under her direction. Amelia also developed and produced an ongoing Web series, “Curators’ Corner,” which gives the public, donors and others an inside look at the
museum’s collections via short multimedia presentations narrated by museum staff. During her first year at the museum, Amelia proposed, planned and implemented the innovative “Conscience Unconference,” a participant-generated and led conference on the topic of social media for social good. She has a strong reputation in the museum community as a communicator, educator and innovator.

This fall Amelia will be teaching a seminar class entitled, “Museums, Interactivity, Technologies,” which will examine:

how the concept of interactivity in modern museum practice has developed roughly over the past half-century. Facing various challenges, museums embraced the notion of interactivity to reframe the traditional relationship between museums and their audiences from one where the
latter passively absorbed the knowledge of the former, to one where both sides actively negotiated knowledge and meaning. Museums have often turned to various technologies to support this pursuit.

This course takes an interdisciplinary and cultural studies approach to interrogating the notion of interactivity and the use of technologies in modern museum practice. Whereas today’s practitioners often reduce the definitions of interactivity and technology to electronic and digital technologies, this course situates current technologies within history and culture, recognizing them as in the process of remediation and convergence. Students will acquire a broad understanding of how and why museums turn to interactivity and technology to expand and serve audiences; inform, communicate, educate, and collaborate; for collections and exhibition practices; and for marketing and development. Students will learn about a wide array of technologies currently used by museums, including “interactives,” immersive installations, video, websites, social media, and mobile technologies. The course will expose students to theory and practice of interactivity and technology in museums to build knowledge and critical thinking about how to choose, implement, and evaluate the use of technology as practitioners.

Congratulations to Amelia Wong and I look forward to joining her this fall as well in the museum studies program. I was recently appointed as an adjunct professor and will be teaching a course on the interpretation of historic sites and house museums (fourteen weeks to cover content, audiences, and methodologies–we’re going to be busy!).

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