Museum Projects

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  • On the Visit to the ICA - JL

    In the Simone Leigh exhibit I was thinking a lot about the context: what would people know about the work beforehand, what information could they gather and learn during, and could they follow up? I would love to know a little bit more about how accessible the app is – is it in the museum paper guides, is it placed around in places that are easily seen, and how many people use it? And then I think about the computer area where you can see some of the works from the Biennale. Essentially my question is: how much information are people able to access on the work, or are they walking through the exhibit without any info ever (and is that fine)?

    Something I saw that was quite interesting was the mobile museum from Dayanita Singh – I know we have been talking about the idea of a mobile museum. I think this is slightly different in the sense that I think (?) its main focus is to be modular and be different and mobile in its own design, not necessarily its traveling nature. Still, I think the size and structure of it would lend itself well to be moved. That being said: how compelling was it amongst the other works, and maybe is there a way to have it be more engaging while also having the aspects of mobility that are being sought after?

  • ICA reflection

    ICA reflection

    The Simone Leigh exhibition at the ICA is a truly captivating experience, showcasing the artist’s unique style and dedication to advocating for black women. Leigh’s distinctive approach, merging objects like vessels and clay pots with female forms, creates a powerful visual impact.

    What sets the ICA exhibition apart from others is its thoughtful use of space and innovative presentation methods to enhance visitor experiences. The arrangement of the sculptures, facing different directions, coupled with the carefully selected soundscape and lighting, creates an immersive environment that invites visitors to fully engage with the artist’s works. The ICA integrates interactive displays and multimedia installations to enrich visitor experience, also through the use of questions in makerspace and also in artwork descriptions.

    ICA’s emphasis on creating a memorable, open atmosphere has been a consistent feature across its exhibitions. The museum is known for incorporating elements like large windows offering ocean views and seagulls, which contribute to a more expansive and liberating experience. In contrast to some museums that may feel restrictive, ICA fosters a sense of freedom and spaciousness for its visitors, making their time spent within the museum truly enjoyable and memorable.

  • ica digital app

    ICA digital app

    The ICA digital guide app offers a seamless and user-friendly experience for visitors, making it easy for them to navigate the museum and its exhibitions. The app’s clean interface and intuitive design make it accessible to users of all levels of technological proficiency. With the app, visitors can effortlessly access information about the museum’s exhibitions, including timelines, themes, and key artworks. The app also provides essential practical details such as exhibition durations and locations, allowing users to plan their visit more efficiently. The lookup feature in the app is particularly helpful for visitors seeking more in-depth information about specific artworks. By entering the artwork’s number, users can access detailed descriptions and easily save screenshots for later reference. In addition to helping with navigation within the museum, the app also assists users with transportation and parking information, making the overall museum experience more convenient and enjoyable.

    One of the standout features of the ICA digital guide app is the inclusion of multimedia content, such as videos and audio recordings. The walkthrough video of the Simone Leigh exhibition, for example, provides an immersive experience for users who cannot visit the museum in person. Furthermore, the audio welcome message from the director adds a personal touch, making visitors feel genuinely welcomed and appreciated.

  • Review of ICA Visit

    It was really interesting to gain more insight into the curatorial process of the Simone Leigh exhibit and the steps that are taken to put an exhibit together. One of the most impactful things that I felt from this experience was how the exhibit space in itself behaved as if it was a part of the art, and not just a container for the art. The intentionality behind all choices, from the intensity of the lighting, to the specific shade of gray on the wall, the volume of the speakers, etc. contributed to highlighting and centralizing the voice of the artist and her intentions. This also made the experience more immersive and engaging, as opposed to simply reading texts on the wall and viewing artworks alongside it. It was also nice to see how active the artist was in the process of curating the exhibit and the ways in which curators are able to let go of their power to craft narratives and allow the driving voice to be that of the artist.

    One thing I wonder about is how the different exhibits inherently attract different audiences and demographics into the museum. For instance, the previous exhibit at the ICA (To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood) attracted a lot of school aged children, whereas I feel as though the Simone Leigh exhibit will attract an older audience. I was curious about what initiatives (if any) would be taken to continually encourage different groups of people to enjoy different kinds of exhibits that they may not have necessarily thought were ‘for them’. Over the weekend, I was working at the Play Date at the ICA. It was very cool that we were able to build connections between the Simone Leigh show and the Art Lab (makerspace), encouraging young people to build their own clay vessels and explore the materials that Simone Leigh used herself in the artworks. We also piloted a new initiative for children to explore the exhibits in a more immersive and sensory way. They are given textural bracelets with material samples (clay, raffia, shells, etc) that allow them to touch and feel the materials that Simone Leigh uses. I think this is an effective way to deconstruct the notion of “Do Not Touch The Art”, maybe even allowing people to build stronger connections to the artworks. This initiative could also be effective in keeping children (who may not or not be interested in the show) more actively engaged.

    Images Attached of student clay vessels, textural exploration rings Screenshot 2023-04-30 at 2.19.07 PM.png Screenshot 2023-04-30 at 2.19.30 PM.png

  • ICA Digital Guide

    I liked how the ICA digital guide is first and foremost very intuitive and simple to use. Simone Leigh’s video is captivating, and the resolution of the artwork presented is excellent. Along with the labels, the ease of exploring and viewing the items in the exhibition is an important feature.

    I also liked the “Design Your Art Wall” concept and the prompts provided in that section. They have the ability to elicit thoughts. It feels similar to visual thinking stratigies: “What do you notice right away? How does it make you feel? What does it make you think of? How would you describe it to someone?”

    The quality of the objects on the app is much better than the quality of the objects at other museums on their website. This makes me think that along with the labels, the prompts, and the videos how is the experience different in person as opposed to using the app and who is the audience the app targets? 

  • On Simone Leigh and the ICA Guide App - JL

    I think the app is really cool! It grants access and getting to experience – whether at the ICA or not, and I wonder about the effect of getting to hear recordings; watch videos; and prime, supplement, and follow-up the vising experience.

    I think the information offered for the objects, along with being able to zoom in, listen to descriptions, is great! I personally found it really meaningful. I wonder: who wrote the text – and is the text in the app the same as on the wall (if there is text on the wall), and who wrote the audio? Who’s narrating the audio? I am curious, sure, and I do also think there’s impact to who/what is behind these and delivering them.

    I appreciate the responses as well, and I find myself in a little bit of need of additional context: who are the people responding, what is the context for both their responding and for their presence of their responses on the app? I am also wondering if these responses are imbued into the physical visiting experience as well?

    I then have a question for the overall experience: what are the stats on people using this app to explore / gain context on the ICA before they visit; on people using it during their visit, how so, and what affordances that provides; and on people who use the app to non-physically revisit the ICA after they’ve been. All really interesting questions that will get some clarity and illumination tomorrow!

  • Assignment 18: ICA Digital Guide

    It was interesting to explore the ICA digital guide. I appreciate the flexibility of this platform - how it is able to act as a guide while one is physically in the gallery space, but also a platform that users (maybe art enthusiasts, researchers, etc) can explore in their own time from any location. Many traditional museum audio guides seem tied to a physical space for the experience to feel fruitful (eg. typing in a number of an artifact then hearing a guide about it). I feel that this guide was able to use images and contextual information in a way that makes the experience informative without necessarily needing to be in the gallery space. I also appreciated the multimedia approach to the guide, and how text, image, video, and audio are used in coherence to create an experience that can be catered to users with different preferences. I enjoyed being able to click into individual items in the exhibition to get a deeper understanding. The audio recordings offered a change of pace and made the experience less monotonous. However, I am curious about the responses. Under Last Garment, we hear a response from someone. Where did this response come from? Who are they? We only get their name. I am wondering about the extent to which providing more information about the person behind the audio response matters. Do we necessarily have to know who they are? Will that bias our perception of the response in any way? Eg. listening to a response by a curator versus a college student. The ‘related’ exhibit section was useful in viewing the artworks in different contexts and gives users a chance to delve deeper if they wish to do so. Overall, the guide was successful in: Using multiple forms of media for a less monotonous experience

    • A balance of context, interpretation, and response
    • Catering to users who have different preferences in terms of engagement
    • Creating a centralized platforms for all museum aspects for the user to explore
  • Generative AI Questions from ChatGPT to Ann

    Prompt: Ann is responsible for the conceptual direction and design of all new exhibitions and the management of the MIT Museum’s galleries and exhibition spaces, including its main museum, the Museum Studio & Compton Gallery, and the Hart Nautical Gallery. The MIT Museum is not an art museum, but rather a museum to show technology and the story of MIT. The mission of the museum is to “Turn MIT inside out.” Today, she will be coming into our class to discuss the role of generative AI in the MIT museum. The MIT museum has an AI exhibit that we will be touring as well. What questions should we ask Ann?

    Model: GPT-4


    1. How has generative AI influenced the conceptual direction and design of exhibitions at the MIT Museum?
    2. In what ways does the MIT Museum utilize generative AI to enhance visitors’ experiences and engagement with technology?
    3. How does the “Turn MIT inside out” mission statement relate to the implementation and showcasing of generative AI in the museum?
    4. Can you provide examples of specific generative AI projects or installations currently on display at the MIT Museum?
    5. How do you envision the future of generative AI in the context of the MIT Museum, and how do you plan to incorporate upcoming advancements in AI technology?
    6. What challenges have you faced in integrating generative AI into the museum’s exhibitions, and how have you addressed them?
    7. How do you ensure that the AI exhibit remains accessible and comprehensible to a diverse audience with varying levels of technical expertise?
    8. What role do collaborations with AI researchers, students, and industry professionals play in the development and presentation of the AI exhibit?
    9. How has the inclusion of generative AI in the MIT Museum impacted the museum’s educational and outreach efforts?
    10. What ethical considerations do you take into account when incorporating AI technologies, particularly generative AI, into the MIT Museum’s exhibitions?

    Evaluation: I was very impressed with the questions that ChatGPT came up with. The prompt took a bit of refining to get the response that I was looking for. It originally thought the MIT was an art museum, so I needed to include a short description of what the MIT Museum is, and I also decided to include the mission statement for further context. I also included a short bio on who Ann is so that ChatGPT has the context on who we are asking the questions to. Finally, I included a section about what Ann will be doing with us in class and that we would like to ask her questions. After developing this prompt, I started to receive satisfactory questions.

    I think that these ten generated questions do a very good job at addressing multiple aspects of the role of generative AI in the MIT Museum. They cover topics such as the influence of generative AI on exhibition design, visitor experiences, challenges, and future prospects. These questions also demonstrate a good balance between asking for specific examples (Q4) and exploring broader conceptual ideas (Q2, Q3). They also take into consideration the importance of accessibility (Q7) and collaborations with different stakeholders (Q8). Finally, one question touches upon the potential ethical implications of incorporating generative AI in museum exhibitions (Q10), which we have also been discussing in class, and I am interested to hear her answer on it.

    My only complaint with these questions is that they are somewhat broad. However, I gave ChatGPT all of the information that I have, so I do not know if I personally could have come up with some more specific questions. I could have included specific information about displays in the AI exhibit for further context.

  • Photo Archive Observation

    Based on my observation, the website’s functionality appears to be fairly straightforward and easy to use. Users can browse through the collection by clicking on the page numbers, and they can search for specific documents by entering keywords into the search bar. The website also provides filters to help users narrow down their search results. On the main page, the visitors of the website only get to see the title of the photographs, without insights into any further details. I personally really appreciate the intention behind this choice of interface design as it draws all the viewers’ attention to the photography itself, and the viewers will solely make their choice of reading based on the visuality.

    When you click into the photograph, it shows you the list of basic information about the images. What I like about this interface is that there are no long paragraphs of description but only clickable key words that guide you to an additional page with extra information, relevant works, and external resources such as youtube videos that can provide a more thorough explanation and description if needed. What I love the most about the functionality is the zoom-in & zoom-out options of the photograph. Especially for the ones with very small details and figures, zooming in gives you a more detailed depiction of the story in the photograph, allowing you to focus on only one or two objects or figures within a photo at a time. Although the photos are 2-D, the flow of zooming in and out, and positioning within the photo frame, were able to provide an immersive visiting experience as close to 3D as possible.

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  • Ideas on Extending the Ernst Brunner photo collection

    I found this archive to be very hard to use, given that it is in German. Switching the language to English did very little to help, and only changed a few parts of the site. After turning on Google Translate, I was able to make a lot more sense of the site. I think it’s really cool that every collection has a big description about what the collection is, and some collections even include videos about them. I also really like the view when you click on a photo from a collection. The photo takes up a lot of space, and the information about the photo is very good (especially the commentary about the photo). However, I think the way that the photos are displayed within a collection (the grid view) is a missed opportunity for a better user interface. Especially given how large these collections are, a grid that displays 40 photos at a time for 107 pages is not easy to use at all. I can not think of any scenario in which someone would go through all 107 pages. It is also not clear to me how these photos are organized. I think it would be cooler if all the photos were shown in a big cloud, sorted by color or some other factor. This would provide a zoomed out view of the collection, and then users can zoom into the parts they are interested in. This would allow the user to see the scope of the collection, and allow for more natural exploration and discovery.

  • Ernst Brunner Photo Collection

    The landing page was simple, and the collections were placed in the epicenter of the page. I also like that each photograph has a zoomer tool that preserves the quality of the object upon zooming in, can also be rotated, and that switching between them is simple. However, every time I click on another collection, I change the language to English in the hopes that the description will change, but the labels remain in German nonetheless. I felt dissociated from the experience, and I am not sure if that was a result of the language barrier. It felt as if I were scrolling through albums without knowing anything about the background, the curator, the history, or the story behind the collection. While a photo is in and of itself a storyteller, the label in various languages will ensure contextualizing the work and engage the viewer. I think the label will provide multiple layers of data “Plurality” as the critical design workflow text describes it.

  • Critical Design & the Brunner Collection

    In exploring the online Brunner collection, I find the interface easy to use and visually appealing. I think the amount of text provided to introduce each collection is appropriate, and appreciate that more information is included once you navigate through the collections. When I was looking at specific images, I’d use the included tags to navigate to other similar objects, and I wonder who created the tags for each object—if other users or creators might have tagged the artifacts differently. I also wonder about the translation of the tags: are there additional ways to think about specifics of images based on the specificity of language used?

    Further, after reading Frischknecht’s “Critical Design Methodology,” one thing I see as a growth area for the collection is the interactivity of the site. Frischknet mentions association and order as common interactions, but it seems that these are already done for users on the site. I think it could be powerful for users to be able to create their own clusters by associate and order. Further, I wonder how the site’s interactivity would change if users could annotate the texts and/or view others’ annotations.

    While the site is functional, easy to use, and visually appealing, I think there are ways for the collection to boost engagement through new ways of interacting with the collection.

  • Ernst Brunner photo collection thoughts

    It was really interesting to look through this archive! There was a lot of variety in the types of photos through the different collections and within the collections themselves. The interface was relatively simple and easy to use, though I did see a few areas for improvement. First, I would love to be able to see more photos per page. I think I was only able to view around 40 photos on a page at a time and I would have loved to see more, especially since loading the next pages took a decent amount of time and there were a lot of pages. Also, I think it could be interesting to have sub-folders within the collections. A lot of the photos were of the same event from different angles while a lot of the photos seemed unrelated from one another, so I think it would be useful to either have further categorizations of the photos within the collections or to be able to group and categorize photos yourself as a viewer.

  • Photo Archive Observations

    There were several features of the photo archive that I found particularly helpful. For example, each photo is labeled with not only a title, but also a unique alphanumeric identifier that may be useful for citation or reference purposes. Additionally, I thought that the advanced search option was well-structured and sufficient for basic researching or viewing purposes as it offered useful categories to search by like time, place, and technique.

    One detail that I think could enhance interaction experience with the archive would be to include more details on the photographer through separate, linked pages containing photographer biographies. I also noticed that there is a link under each photo that can take someone directly to the photo in the archive, which led me to think that it could be interesting to implement a feature that displays how many citations or references the image has. Databases of scholarly articles and some archives of visual media and art have this feature, and it could be interesting to observe what context these photos are being viewed and used in, especially because their range of origins is so international.

  • Ernst Brunner Photo Archive Reflections - JL 2

    Initially of course the German pops out to me, and even in switching the language to English, all the details and search words are in German, so that may be an additional point of friction if you’re a non-German speaker looking to utilize this data set.

    Beyond this though, I appreciate the data set for what it offers: a huge archive of photos, built-in capabilities for searching, zooming, saving, and each photo has what seems to be a decent list of properties attached to it: title, place, comments, technique, etc; for some properties like technique, you can also navigate from there to other photos in the data set that share that property. One concern I have is regarding the idea of “context” from the Frischknecht reading; not all the photos have commentary in their properties, and I’m wondering how this differential amount of context for different images leads to differential abilities to use them, understand them, etc.

    Overall I really enjoy the data set as it is, and I would love to see some projects and findings that have arisen by using this data set.

  • Photo Archive Thoughts

    It was exciting to look through the photo archive of the Swiss Folklore Society! The homepage had clearly labeled collections that the user can click on. They are then brought to a page which displays an overview/introduction of the collection, as well as the more technically detailed development protocol. At the bottom, the number of objects, positives, negatives, and other media types are emphasized and clickable. The user can click on these to filter through the objects in the collection. However, it is sometimes unclear to decipher what section you are looking at because there is no label that indicates to the user. This drawback in the user experience is easily solvable by adding a title that says the media type for each category. When scrolling down past the media in the collection, you are invited to search through other collections from the homepage. However, another shortfall in the user experience is that the navigation bar does not help in going back to the home page or browsing the various collections, it is mainly used for switching between languages. This creates a less seamless experience for the user because they have to manually click back and navigate to the homepage, or tirelessly scroll down past all the objects in a collection to go back to the collection list. If the navigation menu had the collections listed, the user would be able to navigate to these more easily and efficiently.

    Overall, I felt that the archive had clearly organized collections that the user can browse through, as well as having a good balance between text and image. However, I did feel that there were a few wayfinding issues regarding the efficiency of navigating to other collections and the usefulness of the navigation menu.

  • Ernst Brunner photo collection observations

    After visiting the Ernst Brunner photo collection archive, I found it to be a valuable source of information for researchers due to its comprehensive organization and detailed descriptions of the collection. However, there are some areas that could be improved to make the archive more accessible to a wider audience.

    The archive descriptions are detailed and informative, covering the history of the collection’s creation, the types of photographic materials it contains, and its overall mission. The photographs themselves are well-organized, with a numbering convention that makes it easy for researchers to locate specific images. Additionally, the archive provides a manual on how to approach the photographs, which further facilitates research.

    However, the descriptions may be difficult for non-German speakers and those unfamiliar with photographic terminology to follow, which could hinder their ability to fully explore and utilize the archive. Additionally, while the photographs are documented with dates and numbering, there is limited background information and context about each photograph. Without this context, it may be challenging for the general audience to fully appreciate the significance of the collection. Nevertheless, providing context for each photograph may be a challenging task given the large size of the collection.

  • use of technology in the MIT museum

    Does the use of technology enhance your experience? Is technology the only solution to experience the artifact or could you imagine another, also non-technical solution?

    The use of technology in the MIT museum and its effectiveness really depends in my experience. I definitely do expect it in a museum for MIT, though.

    I liked the tech demos- like with the AI robot arm and Jibo. It’s really cool to interact with and see them working in person rather than just on some article. I think I expected more of those types of experiences, though. When I think of MIT, I think of a lot of hands-on interactions, and I wish that was better seen at the museum. The living room was pretty cool though, although I still haven’t figured out exactly what kind of things the room reacts to.

    There were some I didn’t feel like quite made it technologically though, like on the first gallery with the big screen where you create the little figures, or where you stand in front of the speakers that light up and talk about people’s experiences with MIT. I feel like these could definitely have non-technical solutions to experience them.

    I guess this has more to do with just MIT and its theme in general, but I guess technologically, I was expecting a more “mens et manus” approach to the galleries. Content is really interesting, though!

  • Technology in AI exhibit at the MIT Museum

    One of the big problems we noticed when walking around was the difficulty of accurately explaining technical concepts in the museum format. One technological exhibit in particular demonstrated neural network inpainting with (what we presumed to be) epoch-by-epoch visualizations, but all of this would have been so unclear to someone without a background in machine learning. There was a diagram of the corresponding neural network architecture, but I have no idea how a casual observer would have any idea what it meant beyond being some aesthetically pleasing black and white boxes placed on top of each other.

    I personally felt that the AI exhibit devolved into showing people “impressive results” from the history of computing, but with little context for how they worked - style over substance.

    Ultimately, the piece in the exhibit that we were the most impressed by was a huge mechanical box created by Claude Shannon in the 1900s - essentially a hand-built computer. In contrast to the more digital/“modern” exhibits, we felt like this box better captured an interesting slice of the history of artificial intelligence, and it was so much easier to immediately understand what it represented.

    This isn’t to say that technological exhibits can never work. They’re probably perfect for explaining how modern machine learning works - they just require more context. Museum curators are experienced with presenting physical objects well, but there is a slightly different style that integrated technology needs to use before it truly complements the exhibit itself.

  • Tech in the Tracing Threads Gallery

    IMG_3044.jpg One of the first rooms that Razan and I walked into was the Tracing Threads gallery, which immediately caught our attention because of the sheer size and variety of color. As we explored the room, we noticed a projection on the wall to support some of the learning in the room. The exhibit itself is meant to “shine a light on the many ways that patterns of migration, immigration, and global commerce shape and distort our cultural identities and genetic histories” (MIT Museum, 2023). The patterns and textures of the physical exhibit were eye-catching and inviting, but the digital component, the video projected on the wall, was not as complimentary as we thought possible. There was no interactive tech in the room, the video that was playing was silent - signaling quiet in the space and discouraging conversation, and there was not much seating to invite visitors to sit, watch, and engage with the material. This exhibit, though, I believe has so much opportunity for complimentary tech to make information digestible and engaging. For example, it seems as though the gallery wants us to consider patterns of migration and immigration in relation to goods. There could have been tech provided that prompts users to explore the history of a t-shirt, from production to sale. Alternatively, the exhibit could have told stories of folks who are making the goods in sustainable fashion. While this gallery was visually appealing and offered an exciting scale of object, the lack of interactive tech in the room is a missed opportunity.

  • Tech in MIT Museum

    The Voice of AI

    This exhibit has motion or presense sensors with light indicators projected to the floor to activate a recording of scientists talking about AI. What does it mean to stand there to activate the voice rather then just pressing a button? Perhaps this mode serves as more active engagement to force the viewer to stay with the exhibit and listen.

    Arthur Gansan

    This exhibit has motion/presense sensors in front of the statues to turn on the moving statue when someone is nearby. This can be a power saving mechanism. It also may serve as an invitation to engage since you must be close to see the details of the statue, and enchourage engagement.

    Virtual Tools Game

    This is a screen with a physics game on it. It allows for interaction with the concepts, expands possible options to play, and gives the viewer agency.

    Write a Poem

    This is a visual screen that curves above the user that displays poems from museum visitors. Perhaps the use of AI means the use of tech to tie the expeirence together.

  • Photos from Activity "Museum Experience" (Day 1)