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Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.





Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum


Neil Donnelly and in-house




The stillspotting website was created to support a two-year multidisciplinary project that occurs outside the Museum’s walls in five different boroughs of New York City. The site serves as a centralized hub for standard visitor information such as hours, locations, family programs, and ticket purchases, and was also tasked with presenting rich content created by a variety of contributors and helping sustain visitor interest during the multi-month interludes between each program. A wordpress backend with a custom design was utilized in order to reduce development effort and allow multiple staff to update site content as needed throughout the lifespan of the project.


The website investigates thematic concerns of the project with content created by several partnerships. The Spatial Information Design Lab (SIDL) at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University was commissioned to develop a mapping study on silence and noise in New York City ( The interactive map, developed by SIDL using Processing, presents actual noise complaints generated by New York residents when calling 311, the city’s phone number for government information and non-emergency services.  SIDL also challenged graduate students from the Architecture, Urban Design, and Urban Planning programs at Columbia University to investigate new concepts of stillness in a fast-moving city. Drawing from a series of seminars, students invented strategies for collecting data about silence and noise, and visualized this data in concepts displayed as multimedia presentations on the website (


Two types of video content were created, one present at launch and one an ongoing series. Students in the MFA program in the Photography, Video and Related Media Department at the School of Visual Arts created video studies of the visual, aural, and sociological ecology of the urban landscape ( A series of videos is being created to document Improv Everywhere’s performances, or missions, for stillspotting nyc ( Using undercover actors and a healthy dose of humor, the group stages unexpected scenes around New York City, in which sound vanishes, is repeated, or springs forth from silence.


The network for content contributions was cast even wider with a user-generated “create your own stillspot” map (  Using a GoogleMaps API paired with custom graphics, website visitors can mark their favorite places of quiet around the globe, including an image. Easy social sharing of user-generated stillspots helped spread the word, and backend moderation capabilities gave the Museum the ability to remove inappropriate submissions. Users engaged this mandate broadly, documenting everything from their favorite place to commune with nature to concepts of inner peace and stillness.

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