Museums and the Web 2005
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More than just papers, MW2005 offers a chance for dialogue.

Community Curation of Small-Scale Animation and Video

Roger Topp, University of Alaska Museum of the North, USA

Mini-Workshop: Creating Multimedia Content

This mini-workshop will illustrate how, with newer technologies and techniques, museum staff and volunteers can storyboard, process, construct, and incorporate small-scale animation and video resources into gallery and education program design without detracting from the objects on display, cluttering the gallery space, or applying a logistical nightmare to an educator's presentation. Specifically, the paper will cover the development and production of three multimedia modules, a video project documenting Alaska Native artists at work, an animation project presenting the science of the Northern Lights, and a video-animation combined project that illustrates the cultural significance and function of the Inupiaq toggling harpoon head.

The mini-workshop presents the University of Alaska Museum of the North's (UA Museum) procedures for creating multimedia modules for museum exhibits and education. The procedures have helped the UA Museum create and gather community and in-house multimedia resources for use in school classrooms and for diverse programs and audiences at the museum. Smaller museums, such as the UA Museum, can create this targeted, small-scale media for exhibits and education programs by employing community curation, local resources at hand, and off-the-shelf software. Using traditional procedures and community relations, museums worldwide can create interpretive media such as quality 3D animation, and video and audio at relatively low cost. Then, the museums can deliver the multimedia modules using hardware technologies such as handhelds and tablets put in the hands of docents and classroom teachers.

System-level technologies, with high production costs, deter smaller museums. A better solution for small and budget-conscious museums includes learning the basics of relevant hardware, learning to process visual resources already at one's fingertips, and approaching technology from the perspective of the educator, not the touring visitor. Visual and auditory technologies can achieve new standards for cross-cultural learning when used deliberately on a small scale, whereas larger scales may become mired in spectacular production value at the cost of flexibility and usability. Modular development and cross-cultural community partnerships enable projects to be scaled to allow for fluctuating funds and program growth. Future implications of these technologies address the need for smooth integration of multimedia materials across museum programming and exhibit spaces and the need for more efficient means of re-purposing media resources across different platforms. This puts museums in a better position to address the increased perceptual demands of an international public that is accustomed to technological innovation in other venues, while not diminishing the value of the traditional museum space.

The media examples illustrated in this paper were created with the aid of funding by the National Air and Space Administration, the Department of Commerce Technology Opportunities Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rasmuson Foundation.