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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.

Cleveland Historical

People's Choice:
1 vote




Cleveland State University: Center for Public History + Digital Humanities and Michael Schwartz Library--Archive & Cleveland Memory


CSU, in collaboration with Epstein Design and DXY Solutions





 Poster for teaching & windows (w/QR code)Cleveland Historical: Poster for teaching & windows (w/QR code)













Cleveland Historical has transformed Cleveland into a virtual history museum, alive with cultural narratives, oral histories, and community-made videos. Through Cleveland Historical we "curate the city" in collaboration with students, teachers, communities, and cultural organizations.  This site is innovative in how it mixes serendipitous discovery, formatted tours, and layers of interpretive digital stories. Specifically, its innovations include the following features:

  • 1) It conceptualizes the city as a living museum and allows collaborative communities to remake a sense of place in Cleveland.
  • 2) Digital stories are dynamically produced through best practices of historical teaching & learning in collaboration with multiple K-20 educational and community partners.
  • 3) Our team trains students, teachers, and communities in best research and digital storytelling practices, and collaborates with them to create the interpretive stories that populate the app, which produces what we describe as "community-sourced" narratives (as opposed to fully crowd-sourced narratives).
  • 4) More than 200 different organizations, neighborhoods, students, and teachers have contributed interpretive work to the app.
  • 5) The app has been used in local heritage tours (both all-mobile and hybrid mobile/docent-led tours), university classrooms, and neighborhood development efforts.
  • 6) K-12 teachers use the app in their classrooms. They work with students to create interpretive materials for the app, and also teach Cleveland Historical as a digital text, using the region’s narratives to engage broader historical themes and ideas by having them explore (physically and virtually) the region's landscapes.
  • 7) Social media and QR Code deployments have helped connect the multiple collaborators, storytellers, classrooms, and the city into a virtual learning community. 
  • 8) Interpretive geo-located stories include oral history and community-made interpretive video. 
  • 9) Tours are conceived as thematic, geographic, or temporal ways to understand the city as museum.
  • 10) Cleveland Historical has an innovative design, using the archival software Omeka (a robust, standards-based, open-source archival tool) as its content management system.
  • 11) Finally, Cleveland Historical is extensible and it has been developed into a mobile publishing tool (curatescape) which is in beta release. Scholars, museums, and heritage professionals will deploy Spokane Historical, Baltimore Heritage, New Orleans Historical, Geauga Historical, and Explore Medina. 

The Cleveland Historical app has been downloaded more than 7000 times; its website receives about 7200 visitors per month. Cleveland Historical is available as a native app for iOS and Android platforms. We use mobile stylesheets to make it available through the mobile web for other devices. The next version release is scheduled for May 2012 with improved tour functionality, compatibility for Ice Cream Sandwich, a new design, and improved backend functionality.

Cleveland Historical was first available in beta release in November 2010, but only for iOS, with 60 interpretive stories, and limited functionality. After testing, Cleveland Historical was overhauled, and its functionality was extended. It was re-released in May 2012 for iOS, Android, and the mobile web. We also created a parallel project website for communities and educators who have access to the Internet but do not yet use smartphones. Also, during 2011, more than 240 stories were created in conjunction with the community. Current collaborations will yield another 120 stories during Spring 2012.

The Center for Public History + Digital Humanities is a research center at Cleveland State University that collects oral history (over 750 in five years) and digital artifacts. Our principal partner, the Cleveland Memory Collection of the Michael Schwartz Library, actively collects, displays, and builds collections related to the history of Northeast Ohio. Cleveland Historical extends the public sharing of digital artifacts and materials from our collections, as well as others around the city, in meeting Cleveland State's broader mission of civic engagement.

Should you require access to the backend archival system and tools to review the content-creation dynamic, please contact the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities,

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