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Friday, November 6 • 2:00pm - 3:00pm
State of the Art: Creative Technology and the Museum

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Museum technology demands creativity.

Design, user-experience and user interface require an artful creativity, but it doesn’t end there. There’s a Sherlock sort of analytical creativity required to write and troubleshoot code and a MacGyver-like creativity in finding off-the-shelf solutions to solve unique problems. There’s creativity in recombining existing parts and in connecting existing projects to new ideas. A scientific creativity is needed to experiment and fail. And there’s an all-important storytelling creativity required to sell an idea, or a solution, or a process, and convince stakeholders of its value.

Sustaining a creative process in the museum setting can feel like swimming upstream. Many museums celebrate artistic innovation and creativity; few encourage it internally. Most sustain a powerful inertia and are wary of change. Museum technologists are often left on their own to develop creative approaches, or nurture their creative side on their own time.

This panel will explore the space between artist and technologist from three perspectives: the museum, the museum technologist, and the audience. It will be presented in a creative format including short panel presentations, a project demonstration and a unique audience Q&A session.

The Museum:
How do museums approach creative digital work? When a curator wants a unique way to express an exhibition theme, who gets the call? When is an artist commissioned or an outside firm brought in? When does the in-house digital expert get the nod? We’ve found that the capacity (or tolerance) for creative (even artistic) digital experiences depends on the kind of museum. For example, a science museum may welcome the creative technologist while the art museum may find comfort in an artist commission. More broadly, how can museums encourage creativity in their digital teams? (Or, how can the roadblocks to creativity be removed?) What would happen if the processes that are required to keep a digital team creative and innovative are actually taken to other areas of the museum?
Demo: Self/Reflection This interactive installation started as a prototype, developed into an educational interactive, and ended as a work of art in a photography museum. This project hits many aspects of musetech creativity.

The Museum Technologist:
How can creativity be developed in museum technology projects? During this section we will discuss broadening your toolsets--including frameworks built for creativity, experimentation, and tight, iterative feedback loops. We will address the importance of building features into your code to allow for quick experimentation during runtime. We’ll explore ways to gain outside experience and diversify your social networks (vibrant parallel communities thrive around interactive installation art, creative coding, information architecture, and more). Our field is enriched by cross-pollination; we need to bring personal passions to work (and not leave them at the door.)
Demo: Museum my HeartAn example of museum technology drawing upon personal passion and outside interests.

The Audience:
How can museums encourage audiences to be creative? Many museum mission statements include words like “inspire,” “educate,” and “community.” Environments such as makerspaces, startup labs, incubators, and hosted events are all marquee approaches to encouraging creative communities. Through thoughtful infrastructure choices and progressive policies, museums can encourage people to be creative with collections, and celebrate the result. Even without expensive new programs or infrastructure, museums can make simple decisions that turn existing spaces into creative spaces: an open photo and video policy, along with a visitor’s smartphone, and perhaps a prompt on a bit of wall text, can transform a gallery into a creative space for photography, video, and 3D capture. Museum technology, and museum technologists, should strive to invite audiences to embark on the same sort of creative process that inspires us.

avatar for Jason Alderman

Jason Alderman

Creative Technologist, Cloud Chamber
Former museum technologist who now makes interactive connected experiences for retail and theme parks at Valtech (https://www.valtech.engineering/). Gets excited about far too many things, including pizza, sketchnotes, digital infrastructure, paper pop-ups, zines, physical computing... Read More →
avatar for Brinker Ferguson, PhD

Brinker Ferguson, PhD

Dartmouth College
My interest in museums, digital media, and education stems from a need to understand how digital repositories and interactive media can connect disparate groups and foster connection and creativity on a whole. My passion is working with museum conservators to tell their (remarkable... Read More →
avatar for Chad Weinard

Chad Weinard

Consultant, Museum technology + Experience, Independent
Chad Weinard is a technologist and strategist for museums. His recent work explores collections, cultural data, infrastructures, creative technology and the intersection of digital humanities and data science. Most recently, he directed WCMA Digital, a three-year digital infrastructure... Read More →

Friday November 6, 2015 2:00pm - 3:00pm CST
Calhoun Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403

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