Friday, March 28, 2014

Join the Conversation: Crystal Bridges and iTunes U

The reason I was drawn to the use of technology in museums is that it has the power to make the museum more accessible.  Unfortunately a museum can’t be open 24 hours a day 7 days week, but through technology the art and museum programs can be.

My duties at Crystal Bridges include managing the mobile app and producing all the audio tours that have been published through the app.  But I also managed the Museum’s presence in iTunes U.

In case you are not familiar with iTunes U,  it is the section of the iTunes store that is dedicated to educational content.  All the content providers in that area are educational non-profits and all the content provided must be free.  Providers include such organizations as Harvard, Yale, the Smithsonian Institution, and The Museum of Modern Art, as well as other Arkansas providers – Arkansas Department of Education, University of Arkansas, and the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History.

On iTunes U the museum publishes recordings of our art talks, lectures, outdoor classes, and more, but my favorite thing to produce for iTunes U is the extended versions of our audio tours that are published in the CB Museum app.

You may not realize most of the audio tours are unscripted conversations about a work of art.  Most of the time 15 minutes is allotted for two people to discuss a work of art, though sometimes the conversations end up being longer, when people become engrossed in their discussion.  Now imagine having to cut those 15-20-minute conversations down to 2 minutes or less! It is by far one of the hardest aspects of creating an audio tour.

When recordings are published to iTunes U, however, I don’t have to worry about that.  Nothing gets left on the proverbial cutting room floor and every juicy morsel of the conversation, no matter where it leads, is shared.

To get you started I’ll suggest one of my favorites.  The discussion focuses on Dan Flavin’s work Untitled (to Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Inch) for the museum’s exhibition See the Light.  Then Director (now Museum President) Don Bacigalupi and Public Programs Coordinator Sara Segerlin have a fascinating conversation about why a seemingly simple light fixture is in fact a sculpture.

Also Published on the Crystal Bridges Museum Blog.