Categories
Behind the Scenes

Tech Talk: What’s On Your Phone, MAM Staff?

Michelle Bastyr, Kohl's Art Generation Community Relations Coordinator, uses her iPhone in the Museum's Windhover Hall. Photo by the author
Michelle Bastyr, Kohl’s Art Generation Community Relations Coordinator, uses her iPhone in the Museum’s Windhover Hall. Photo by the author
It’s no secret around the Museum that I’m a huge tech nerd. One of my favorite things is finding out what apps, websites, and programs people use to get their jobs done. I’ll admit it, I’m a little bit nosy (or nebby, as the native Pittsburgher in me would say), so I find it fascinating to see how folks in any industry organize their lives and make things happen.

So it’s about time I asked staff here at the Milwaukee Art Museum what tech they use to get stuff done. You might think we museum people are all about “old stuff” (and, of course, we do love a good 500-year-old painting), but we here at MAM are pretty techie indeed. Today, I’m sharing some of our staff’s favorites apps and websites with you. You don’t have to work at an art museum to use these apps in your work or life–I guarantee it!

Categories
Behind the Scenes Education

Beyond Digital: Open Collections and Cultural Institutions, Part 2

View of the author's Beautiful Data Final Project installation. Photo by the author
View of the author’s Beautiful Data Final Project installation. Photo by the author
This is part two of two posts about my experiences at the Beautiful Data: Telling Stories with Open Collections workshop at Harvard University’s metaLAB. Read part one here.

When my teen program started up again this fall, I brought my students into the Milwaukee Art Museum galleries to look at a single work of art for an hour (you can read more about this processhere.) As usual, I noticed the high schoolers opening up to each other, to new ideas, and to finding ways that art relates to their everyday life—whether a photograph of Milwaukee or a landscape by a Baroque Italian painter. These discussions are guided by the students—I might throw in some useful facts to open up the conversation, but they take the lead. As a result, on any given day, we might relate artworks to religion, politics, narratives, families and friends, or even moods and feelings.

Categories
Behind the Scenes Education

Beyond Digital: Open Collections and Cultural Institutions, Part 1

View of the author's Beautiful Data Final Project installation. Photo by the author
View of the author’s Beautiful Data Final Project installation. Photo by the author
This is part one of two posts about my experiences at the Beautiful Data: Telling Stories with Open Collections workshop at Harvard University’s metaLAB.

This past June, I participated in a two-week workshop at Harvard University’s metaLAB called Beautiful Data: Telling Stories with Open Collections. Thanks to a grant from the Getty Foundation, the metaLAB brought together over twenty curators, technologists, educators, and scholars to grapple with how we might use publicly available data from museum collections in our work. In the first week, speakers as varied as digital museum specialists to experience designers to scientists who study vision all pressed us to think of our work in unexpected contexts. In the second week, we took what we’d discussed and applied them to projects of our own.

Categories
Behind the Scenes Education

Reflective Evaluation: How Can Museums Change Teens–and Vice Versa? Part 3

The Satellite High School Program Teens, 2013-14. Photo by Front Room Photography
The Satellite High School Program Teens, 2013-14. Photo by Front Room Photography
In my previous two posts in this Reflective Evaluation series, I detailed all the ways we found and evaluated data to show teen participants in the Satellite program became more reflective. So: did the interviews, exit slips, readability tests, and final projects all add up to a full image of the impact that a year’s worth of reflective practice can have on students?

Categories
Behind the Scenes Education

Reflective Evaluation: How Can Museums Change Teens–and Vice Versa? Part 2

Liz and Justine watch the final project videos. Photo by Front Room Photography
Liz and Justine watch the final project videos. Photo by Front Room Photography
In part two of my three posts on this year’s Satellite teen program, I’m sharing the unexpected data that helped me see the bigger picture about my students’ ability to reflect thanks to being in the program.

Categories
Art Behind the Scenes Education

Reflective Evaluation: How Can Museums Change Teens–and Vice Versa? Part 1

Luis and Rosaly show their families the Museum. Photo by Front Room Photography
Luis and Rosaly show their families the Museum. Photo by Front Room Photography
Over the past four years, I have worked with hundreds of Milwaukee-area teens who love art, and who, over their time in teen programs at the Milwaukee Art Museum, grow to love museums as well.

I have always had a sense that my students grow over their time at the Museum. This year, though, to really study that growth, we designed our longstanding Satellite High School Program as a year-long experience to explore exactly how weekly sessions at an art museum might change the thinking of our teen participants. To that end, our program outcome for students was that they would show an increased ability to reflect upon their own experiences and performance.

Categories
Art Collection Contemporary Photography and Media Arts

From the Collection: Taxi Ride to Sarah’s Studio by Jim Campbell

Illuminated wires with square blocks that start densely packed on the left and slowly get more sparse
Jim Campbell (American, b. 1956), Taxi Ride to Sarah’s Studio, 2010. LEDs, wire, custom electronics. Milwaukee Art Museum, purchase, with funds from the Contemporary Art Society, M2011.25. Photo by John R. Glembin. © Jim Campbell
Illuminated wires with square blocks that start densely packed on the left and slowly get more sparse
Jim Campbell (American, b. 1956), Taxi Ride to Sarah’s Studio, 2010. LEDs, wire, custom electronics. Milwaukee Art Museum, purchase, with funds from the Contemporary Art Society, M2011.25. Photo by John R. Glembin. © Jim Campbell

It’s not unusual to see the work of an engineer at an art museum—especially here in Milwaukee. From the first step under the stunning Brise Soleil in the Quadracci Pavilion of the Milwaukee Art Museum, it becomes clear that an incredible mind must have devised this unique building. But what you may not know is that inside this engineering marvel, there is artwork by another artist with an engineering background: Jim Campbell’s Taxi Ride to Sarah’s Studio.

Categories
Art Education

Teen Voices in the Museum

Milwaukee Art Museum Satellite Program group, 2013-14
Milwaukee Art Museum Satellite Program group, 2013-14
Teen programs provide a very different kind of opportunity for museums to experiment with interpretation. Because many teens participate in multiple programs for extended lengths of time, they become advocates and resources for our museums and collections. Here at the Milwaukee Art Museum, I’ve been experimenting with interpretation strategies that go deeper than one-day-only programs, providing not only learning experiences for students involved, but powerful tools and content for the Museum, too.

Categories
Behind the Scenes Education

Voting Counts: The Kohl’s Art Generation Lab

View of the voting stations in the Kohl's Art Generation Lab: Museum Inside Out. Photo by John R. Glembin
View of the voting stations in the Kohl’s Art Generation Lab: Museum Inside Out. Photo by John R. Glembin
The Kohl’s Art Generation Lab—part of the new Kohl’s Education Center, which opened February 25, 2012—is the Museum’s new “technology room” for kids and families. It features an exhibition entitled Museum Inside Out, which takes visitors on a behind-the-scenes tour of different departments at the Museum through high-tech interactives (and some low-tech ones, too). Kids and families can X-ray a painting, choose the frame for a work of art, and “Ask a Curator” their art-related questions. The Kohl’s Art Generation Lab is open during normal Museum hours through August 31, 2013.

One of the higher-tech attractions in the Lab is the Museum’s voting interactive. Five touch-screen monitors each randomly display two artworks side by side; the visitor is instructed to “tap to vote” for his or her favorite work between the two. Upon each selection, the information is collected, the results are tabulated, and two new works are displayed. A larger “leaderboard” screen above the touch-screens displays the current top 20 works in the contest, along with a list of recently selected works.

We started out not knowing how many votes to expect, and we were pretty surprised by the results.

Categories
Education

How We Made the Museum’s Teacher Website

Screenshot of the new Teacher Resources site.
Screenshot of the new Teacher Resources site.

Have you ever made a website? It’s not easy these days. Especially if you want it to be robust, web-standards-friendly, functional, and beautiful.

Luckily, the Museum has a fabulous web team in our Communications department that assists with all the various whims and wishes of the rest of the staff. These two busy staff members–that’s right, there’s only two of them!–work hard every day to make our website look great and work well.

At the end of the 2010-11 school year, I approached the team with an idea for an online hub for teachers–full of resources, activities, lesson plans, and information on the Collection specially for educators, with comments and media embedded in every activity. I’m thrilled to announce that last week, we launched the new Teacher Website–click here to visit!

For all you techies out there or folks who are simply intrigued by the many decisions that go into creating a site like this, read on…