Popup exhibits have been on the radar for many museums for several years now. These exhibit outposts can be located outside the museum, in community spaces, often outdoors. And now, during times of COVID-19, these outdoor, remote locations may provide new options for museums looking to connect beyond their walls. Our focus in particular has been gathering community stories, recorded in video, as part of a popup exhibit experience.

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How do we connect with museum audiences – their stories and experiences – when even visiting museums is a sporadic, uncertain prospect? Covid-19 challenges museums to find new ways of connecting with communities. One approach is to ask audience members directly to record their experiences in response to questions such as “How did your family come to our community?” This community storytelling process encourages museums to reach out to connect with visitors where they are, whether in exhibits, outdoor satellite spaces, or at home.

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What could be more compelling than asking visitors to tell stories of their relationships with their own dogs? When I was first approached by California Science Center about providing a Storykiosk for their traveling exhibit, I knew it would be a hit. And looking at the review server for the installation, I see hundreds of heartfelt stories confirming this…

I had the pleasure of visiting the installation a couple weeks ago at its current venue, Museum of Science, Boston. It was a school vacation week, and was it busy! Visitors flowed throughout the exhibit with a variety of engaging dog related activities. The exhibit also incorporates a Storykiosk and a separate playback station, with attractive design and project development/management by Unified Field.

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aam muse award

We’re at the end of the summer, and I realize I haven’t blogged yet about the big news for us a couple months ago at the AAM (American Association of Museums) annual conference: two of our Storykiosk projects received  the association’s MUSE Award, given to exceptional media projects in museums across the U.S.

For those who aren’t familiar with the MUSE Awards, they’re like the Academy Awards in the film industry, except people outside the museum industry don’t know about them, we don’t get dressed up to receive them, and nobody really knows who we are.  (Though I think we’re more diverse).  It’s an honor to receive one, and even more to be recognized on two projects.

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