Recently, Crystal Bridges received the Gold MUSE award for Audio Tours and Podcasts from the American Alliance of Museums’ Media & Technology committee for the audio/music tour of the temporary exhibition This Land: Picturing a Changing America in the 1930s and 1940s. This is the highest award that a museum can receive for an audio tour. MUSE awards honor outstanding achievement for digital media that enhances the experience and engages audiences. They celebrate scholarship, community, innovation, creativity, education, and inclusiveness. Judges consider each project’s accessibility in terms of ADA, the overall production quality, the inventiveness, and the impact that the project makes to the museum field.
The goal of Crystal Bridges’ winning audio tour was to illuminate
guests’ exploration of the exhibition in a unique way. Thus we
partnered with the Fayetteville Roots Festival to curate a collection of
music to accompany This Land. Each of the stops on this musical tour featured a song by 2013 Fayetteville Roots Festival
performers that captured the essence of a particular image in the
exhibition. Crystal Bridges Associate Curator Manuela Well-Off-Man and
Bryan Hembree, Director of the Fayetteville Roots Festival, provided
background and commentary for each tour stop.
The museum enjoys wonderful relationships with local organizations
that often allow for unique partnership opportunities, and music is an
important aspect of the culture in our local community. Thus when
Senior Museum Educator Sara Segerlin had the idea to partnering with the
Fayetteville Roots Festival for this music audio tour it seemed like
the perfect fit.
The Crystal Bridges team believed that regionalist music would
strongly interrelate with the artwork, either through the lyrics, the
mood and rhythm of the song connecting with the painting’s mood and
visual rhythms, or through instrumentation. Since the exhibition This Land: Picturing a Changing America in the1930s and 1940s focuses
on artists’ responses to major natural events and the changing rural
and urban landscapes prior to World War II, it was easy to find
contemporary folk music that reflects the same sentiments amongst the
musicians performing at the 2013 Fayetteville Roots Festival.
Personally, of the audio tours I’ve had the privilege of producing,
this was one of my favorites. So it was wonderful to receive praise such
as this from the MUSE judges: “We loved the multi-sensory approach of
this tour, and appreciated the different entry point to the exhibition
theme for different types of visitors. This is a neat idea—Crystal
Bridges went the extra mile to connect with their local community
through this tour.”
I believe music-based audio tours have the potential to be a growing
practice in the museum field. Music can allow a viewer to engage an
exhibit in a new way as well as helping him or her better understand a
time, place, event, or emotion. How can you not love great art and
I’m also happy to announce that in honor of our award, we will be re-publishing the tour in our CB Museum app from now through July 10, 2014. The app is available on Apple and Android platforms. If you select “Museum Tours” and scroll through the list, you will find The Music Experience of This Land
available for download. Since the exhibition is no longer on view in
our galleries, wall labels are included and images of the artwork
display while the audio plays.
Also published on the Crystal Bridges Museum Blog.