Storytelling with a Boop: Experiences Developing Collections and Connecting Communities with Museum in a Box

Digitally Engaged Learning
San Marcos, TX
September 12-13, 2019

Proposal

Digital has been called the future for decades, and yet the digital more often than not refers to a screen based activity. We are exploring how a new technology, Museum in a Box, may provide a digitally based platform for engaging with communities in the creation of collections that are based not on staring at a screen but on auditory and tactile experiences. As we think about the relationships between individuals, communities, and the world, storytelling and community archives are as important now than ever, and in the next hundred years, we expect their value to only grow with the reduction in lasting physical objects that signify community and history (e.g. letters, journals, etc). By creating collections of physical objects with associated audio files, Museum in a Box encourages the collage of oral history with historical sound alongside digitized and/or recreated visual and tactile materials. We envision the creation of new futures through this multimodal act of building and remixing.

Audience Interaction

After a period of introducing the audience to the pilot projects and the ways that Museum in a Box works, we will open the workshop up to an activity that engages the audience in envisioning their own community engaged collections. We will provide guest accounts and example materials for the audience to experiment with the Museum in a Box digital platform as well as physical objects and cards to experiment with during the activity. After breaking into small groups and individual brainstorming, we will come together as a group to debrief and share out ideas. The workshop will conclude with time for further discussion and questions.

Session Takeaways

Participants in this workshop will learn about the Museum in a Box tool by learning about examples of how it is being implemented in several educational contexts around the US. Participants will come away from the workshop with an understanding of how to implement their own Museum in a Box project with practical tips and a framework for collection development, community engagement, and project management.

Session Outcomes

This workshop will provide feedback for future Museum in a Box trainings and workshops that we plan to develop on our campus in the next year. Since the projects being highlighted in the early portion of the workshop are still in their pilot phase, feedback gathered through this workshop will be incorporated into development into the next phase of the projects.

Abstract

In late 2018, Museum in a Box (http://www.museuminabox.org/) launched a pilot program to experiment with schools, universities, and cultural institutions around the world to see how its device for “object-oriented experience design” could be used to engage with students and communities. This workshop will introduce participants to pilot projects to share approaches to creating digital collections using Museum in a Box.

The workshop will begin with a presentation from a university context, followed by a few examples of Museum in a Box in use in other contexts, presented virtually by collaborators. (The exact lineup of shorter example presentations is being finalized, and looks to include an example from a museum library as well as an example from a K-12 school.)

The lead presenter, with two undergraduate student collaborators, will discuss a project based out of a Digital Humanities research lab at a public research university. The “Watson’s Tin Box” project is working with a Sherlock Holmes fandom community in Maryland to create a digital version of evidence boxes for a community building activity. By creating a digital version of the evidence boxes, other fan community groups may use the storytelling materials and audio files to share in their creative fandom. The pilot phase of this project highlights the role of community in building collections, as the university team has engaged in conversations around copyright, ownership, and preservation with the fan community, alongside conversations around storytelling, narrative, and performance. Over the summer, the team will engage with undergraduate interns and students from the Theatre Department on campus in collaborating with the fan community to create audio files and test cards for the Museum in the Box. In early fall, the project will begin working with 3d modeling and 3d printing of objects to replace at least some of the pilot cards.

The “Watson’s Tin Box” project is seen at the University as a larger pilot for using Museum in a Box as a digital experience development tool in the Digital Humanities curriculum. After this first venture with the Box, there are plans for workshops and collaborative projects with the University Libraries and Archives and the University Museum to create digital exhibits that bring together collections from across units and to reach out to the community beyond campus, both to contribute to future collections and exhibits and to share out the curated collections by openly sharing the materials through creative Commons licensing.

After a period of introducing the audience to the pilot projects and the ways that Museum in a Box works, we will open the workshop up to an activity that engages the audience in envisioning their own community engaged collections. We will provide guest accounts and example materials for the audience to experiment with the Museum in a Box digital platform as well as physical objects and cards to experiment with during the activity. After breaking into small groups and individual brainstorming, we will come together as a group to debrief and share out ideas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *