April 13-17, 2010
Denver, Colorado, USA

Sessions: Abstract

New Technology in the Museum: a case study of three museums in the Fluid community working together   go to paper

Jess Mitchell, University of Toronto, Canada
Jennifer Czajkowski, The Detroit Institute of Arts, USA
Jutta Treviranus, University of Toronto, Canada

Fluid Engage is a suite of design tools for managing, transforming, and presenting museum content in fresh and accessible ways for mobile, Web, and in-house environments. Engage is built using standard Web technologies and an open, participatory design methodology. These tools don't require the creation of new content from scratch, nor fundamental changes to existing collections management strategies. This case study examines how Fluid's open source community of museums, galleries, designers, and developers are collaborating to produce for visitors engaging experiences that are rich, flexible, easy to implement, and low cost.

Three museum partners have adopted and implemented Fluid Engage's mobile and kiosk interfaces: The Detroit Institute of Arts, Museum of the Moving Image, and McCord Museum of Canadian History. This paper chronicles the disparate use cases from each museum and describes how Fluid Engage addresses those needs. We will describe the open source collaboration process with museums, the design approach taken, and the technical solutions being built. This will include both a demonstration of how these museums have put Engage in production today and a discussion of the implementation considerations.

Fluid Engage is collaboratively creating user interfaces and data feeds that can be used, adapted, and implemented today by a wide variety of museums. This case study will be valuable to any museum interested in building more sustainable and collaborative means of engaging visitors. We will describe how to use and implement Fluid Engage regardless of collection size, access to IT professionals, or backend collections technology. Fluid Engage seeks to provide practical, easy to implement tools and technologies to address challenges faced by the wide range of museums and galleries; feedback and input will be welcome to help shape the project over the next stages of development.

Session: The State of Open Source [technology]

Keywords: open source, mobile, new technology, collaboration, Web, audience engagement