In this 2:01 video, Randi Korn explains how museums and historic sites can define impact and how an “impact statement” integrates personal passion, the organization’s strengths, and the audience’s interests and needs. And to measure impact you have to go beyond the usual numbers involving attendance and income and instead look at the experience that people had. This is one in the “Questions of Practice” video series produced by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.
In this 4:03 video, Artsy explains why a patron supports an artist and how this influences the art market. What compels patrons to support artists’ careers? How has the model of commissioning impossible ideas lasted from the ancient Egyptians until today? This short film is the third and latest in a series of four short films about the art market by Artsy. Even if you’re not interested in this topic, the interpretive presentation may be a model for your videos.
Project Tomorrow, a nonprofit organization focused on education, just released a national study on the use of technology by teachers and students called, “From Print to Pixel: The Role of Videos, Games, Animations, and Simulations within K-12 Education.” For the past thirteen years, Project Tomorrow has provided these annual “Speak Up” research reports to help schools and elected officials (and I’m including museums and historic sites) better understand the trends in technology in the K-12 education field. This year’s report incorporates responses from 415,686 K-12 students, 38,613 teachers and librarians, 4,536 administrators, 40,218 parents and 6,623 community members representing over 7,600 schools and 2,600 districts in the United States and around the world.
From “Print to Pixel” highlighted these major findings: Continue reading
Groupon founder Andrew Mason guides Casey Newton of Verge through the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art using the latest version of Detour, a location-based outdoor audio tour app that now works indoors as well. Through your smartphone, Detour knows your location in the museum and presents the artworks in that specific gallery along with the associated audio recordings so you can wander (giving you the right information in the right place), as well as 15-30 minute “walks”. Parts of this Verge video are silly and the background music too loud, but it looks like smartphone technology now has the capability to be used at historic sites for self-guided tours of the buildings, landscape, and neighborhood in a way that’s more flexible and responsive to visitor interests.
The video below is a better explanation of Detour’s ability to “automatically guide you as you walk, almost like you’re there with a real person”. It debuted last year with ten Detours of San Francisco (including architecture) at $4.99.
This 1:22 video promotes an exhibition of self-portraits (“autoportraits”) at the Museum of Fine Arts in Lyon, France without any words. Showing a series of portraits that transition through the eyes, it also maintains engagement with subtle and dramatic visual effects. It might be an approach for giving historic images or objects a stronger visual presence in orientation films.
This 5:45 video provides a behind-the-scenes view with staff and residents about a 2014 collaborative exhibition between the Hackney Museum and a local neighborhood. This film documents what the museum staff and community partners learned together, both successes and failures, when they created the “Side by Side: Living in Cazenove” exhibition at the Hackney Museum, located in a suburb northeast of London.
In this 3:38 video, Education Week’s Alyson Klein provides an overview of the changes brought by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaces No Child Left Behind (NCLB) in the 2017-18 school year. Responsibilities for performance, curriculum, and testing shift from the federal government to the states. For museums and historic sites, that means that your local school district may be adopting new standards of learning, which could prompt you to revise your school programs. States are required to adopt “challenging” academic standards, which could be Common Core but it isn’t required. For more details, take a look at Education Week’s written summary or the analysis in The Atlantic.
In this 1:51 video, Colleen Dilenschneider of Know Your Own Bone explains that nearly 60 percent of Americans don’t know that history museums operate as non-profit organizations. It doesn’t get much better for those who visit history museums—53 percent are unaware. That may be alarming because we often distinguish ourselves by our non-profit status. Dilenschneider, on the other hand, suggests reframing the issue:
Our key differentiator is not our tax status, but that our dedication to making a difference is embedded in the very structure of how we operate. There’s a thought that we need to run “more like for-profit companies” (and in some ways we do, but the blanket directive is an ignorant miss). But look around. For-profit companies are actually trying to be more like us in the sense that they want audiences to know that they stand for something that makes the world a better place.
The video is a quick overview but you’ll find more details in “Nonprofit Recognition: What Matters More to Visitors Than Your Tax Status“.
Data source: National Awareness, Attitudes and Usage Study, a partnership project of IMPACTS Research and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
In this 3:42 video, Jennifer Deal, a senior research scientist at the Center for Creative Leadership in San Diego, California, discusses recent studies that suggest that staying connected to work after hours isn’t the problem, but how organizations respect their people’s time. According to her research,
We found that although a majority of our participants were connected to work for 13.5 or more hours a day, five days a week, and for about five hours total on weekends, they didn’t resent their smartphones. Instead, 60 percent said they appreciated the increased flexibility: Many explained they didn’t mind the additional hours connected with work, if that meant their work time was flexible and they could better fulfill their personal obligations. What did they resent? Having to stay connected because of bad management practices that tied their hands, forcing them to spend business hours waiting instead of working.
She provides some suggestions for improving meetings and office practices, but you’ll find more in “Stop Wasting Your Employees’ Time” at Strategy + Business.
Last week I visited the huge Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, Arizona and spent four hours just walking through the exhibits. Whenever I visit a historic site or museum, the first thing I often do is just walk through the entire place to get an overall sense of its organization, design, and content, rarely stopping to read labels or watch videos. At MIM it took four hours. Thank goodness for the cafe. I haven’t seen so many guitars, violins, drums, or bagpipes in my life, but I guess that’s the point.
Along the way I spotted a couple unusual interpretive and fundraising techniques that caught my eye that might interest you:
1. MIM has the usual big donor walls in the lobby but next to the exit door, they have a colorful digital version for current donors along with an eye-catching donation box. The big touch screen is divided into two sections: the top half has announcements for upcoming events and volunteer opportunities and the bottom half has a scrolling list of donors for the last twelve months. Because it’s digital, it can be easily updated (but of course, requires someone with IT skills for maintenance). A navigation bar lets you choose the donor category by size of gift from $250 to $5 million+. Next to the digital display is a donation box featuring the shiny silver bell of a sousaphone with the message, “Blown Away? Join Our Band of Donors” and a window so you can see your money fall inside. I bet this encourages kids to drop their change (or encourages kids to tell their parents to drop a dollar). Clever eh? And notice there’s nothing else around it–no clutter of chairs, signs, or plants to keep visitors focused on support as they leave the museum.
2. Interpretation at MIM relies heavily on wireless headsets that are automatically activated as you approach an exhibit. The headsets consist of a pair of light headphones connected to a Sennheiser GuidePORT device, which is slightly larger and heavier than the old classic iPods. The device controls volume, holds a rechargeable battery, and contains the antennae that receives the audio in the exhibit. Most of the exhibits have a monitor showing a series of short videos of musical performances or a demonstration of their manufacture. The videos cycle continuously and when the visitor comes within about ten feet, the headset connects to the audio. When you finish watching a video, you can take a couple steps, and watch a different video on another monitor without touching the device or punching in a number. The exhibits can be packed tightly with video screens without worries about sound bleed and turning the exhibit galleries into a cacophony of sounds. However, it wasn’t perfect. About five percent of the time it wouldn’t connect to the video and I had to watch it in silence (and when it’s a musical performance, a silent video isn’t very helpful). Secondly, visitors (especially kids) occasionally dropped their devices. Every time I heard the smack on floor, I cringed. The admission desk provides lanyards to hang the audio system around your neck, but not all visitors use them. Sigh.