Monday, June 23, 2014

BYOD: We promise we won’t tell you to put it away

Crystal Bridges knows that the majority of our guests come to the Museum with some kind of mobile device, and we are working hard to offer experiences to those that would like to use their own devices at the Museum.

Although cell service has always been tricky in the building—remember while you are at the museum, you are in a ravine with three-foot-thick concrete walls—we continue to work with the major cell carriers to strengthen our signals, and have achieved some great improvements. However, depending on the carrier, some guests may still experience low signal strength. We would like to remind you that since opening, we have offered a free Wi-Fi network for our guests called “CBMAA Guest,” and there’s no password needed to join.

Six things to consider when using your mobile device:
1. The new mobile version of our website can help you find directions to the Museum and plan your visit. There are even menus to help you decide what you want at Eleven for lunch or dinner.

2. You can download recordings of some of the art talks or lectures that you may have missed and listen to them in front of the artworks they reference. These recordings are available in iTunes U for free. Apple users can get them through the iTunes U app, while other users can get them through the iTunes software, download them on to their computer, and then install them on your mobile device. You can search for “Crystal Bridges” or use this direct link.

3. When you arrive at the Museum, you may want to consider turning off your cellular data to help save battery life. Otherwise devices are prone to continually try to connect, which depletes your battery.

4. Use instant messaging apps to communicate with others in your group while at the Museum.

5. Feel free to use your mobile device to take pictures without a flash (as long as there is no sign indicating that photos are not allowed in that area). If you share those through social media, considering tagging the museum #CrystalBridges. Crystal Bridges employees love to see what our guests are enjoying about the Museum.

6. And don’t forget to download our free mobile app CBMuseum, which offers audio tours as well as a calendar of events. The app is now available on Android as well as Apple devices.

Also published on Crystal Bridges Museum Blog.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Last Chance to Hear Crystal Bridges’ Award-Winning Music Tour!

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 great music?

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.

Enjoy!

Also published on the Crystal Bridges Museum Blog.