Saturday, April 5, 2014 1:30 p.m. – 2:57 p.m.
MUSEUMS AND THE WEB 2014: THE PERVASIVE MUSEUM
Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel
202 East Pratt Street
Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.
>> It’s that time, folks, for a song. No. I’m only kidding.
It just feels like you need to be doing some crooning with this mic.
I’m going to start the session off because it’s 1:30 and we’ve got a lot to pack in. Jane just told me. So this is the session, The Pervasive Museum. We’re going to be hearing today from Jane and Niki from the Cleveland Museum of Art, from Sarah Smith from the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, and last but not least, from Alain Dupuy from InnoVision but also representing the Museum of History of Marseille. We’re going to hear the speakers. We’re going to take a few questions after each speaker has finished and then hopefully there will be a bit of time at the end to have further questions.
I’m going to hand it over to Jane.
>> Jane Alexander: Hi. I’m Jane Alexander, from the Cleveland Museum of Art. Thank you for having me today.
I want ‑‑ Cleveland Museum of Art just completed its $350 million renovation, actually under budget, so a $330 million renovation. With that, last year we opened up a brand new atrium, new set of stores, a cafe, a restaurant, and Gallery One. With the opening of all of these spaces, we have found in the last year that Gallery One’s attendance has risen by 39%. I mean the museum’s. Part of that is due to the creation of Gallery One.
I began at the museum in the middle of 2010. When I got there, there was about two and a half years to when Gallery One was going to open. And they had gone through a lot of different iterations. So I asked: Well, what are the goals of Gallery One? And it basically was to ‑‑ while the museum was going through this renovation, was to build attendance and take away the intimidation of an art museum and also to get families to come to art museums.
We found that you could have a Ph.D. in physics and felt I should study before I came, and family thought there was nothing to do for their children. So Gallery One gives you the toolset to look closer at art. So we have studio play that has two interactives. This one is my favorite. I will tell you that many a nights when the museum’s open late, there are families with no kids around playing line and shape, which you just saw. And then the main gallery in Gallery One has six interactive lenses that have hard‑coded games and contextual information, as well as our 40‑foot Collection Wall that has every single object dynamically pulling from our backend system, live on the wall. And every 32 system it rotates to a theme, a curator theme, to, again, introduce you back to our world class collection.
We also, when you touch the wall, it will open up and it will show that you’re in, for example, Dutch painting. And you can scroll through but at any time you can switch ‑‑ it’s on an automatic timer. That’s what’s throwing me. I don’t know how to stop that. So, you can switch between medium and date and gallery. So the data has been structured that you can start in ancient architecture and end up in contemporary photography simply by browsing the collection.
Meanwhile, your device, your iPad or your iPhone, Android, can connect to the wall wirelessly and you will then be able to save all the objects on the wall. It goes right to your device. And then you are sort of launched into the galleries based on your choices. Simply by walking around, holding up your phone, hot spots pop up and you can get information. And thus, if you like that object, you will look closer. It has sort of if you like this, you might like these objects. It’s all about proximity. It’s about keeping your head up and looking closer at the art.
What’s really great about Gallery One is that everything on the wall, everything on the iPad, pulls dynamically from our backend systems. So we ‑‑ with the beginning of the building project, we had almost finished digitizing our entire collection. So the way Gallery One does, our DAM system, digital asset management system, we built a CMS on top. The CMS pulls the images from pictures, pictures pulls the metadata from the cataloging management system. If somebody goes on view, on to conservation, it is reflective, live, dynamically in Gallery One.
To do this, Gallery One and ArtLens were the first beneficiaries ‑‑ I’m sorry, I’m nervous. The museum’s Digital Strategy. When we were putting this together, CMA wanted the technology implementation, and by CMA, it was like our team, we wanted to use best practice. We wanted to be in line with what industry was doing. So by having this set in place we’ve also been able to scrub our data unbelievable. If you have your object, your data on a 40‑foot wall, you’re going to be able to find mistakes faster.
So when we see something, we can ‑‑ it goes ‑‑ a picture is taken from the tech on duty. It goes to the application team. And they quickly can assess is this a deeper problem, is this done in the cataloging system, is this in our digital system, was this an ingest problem or data entry problem. By analyzing it, we have cleaned up and have it really, really sparkling collection data set right now.
And then even when we have activities, like ArtLens has the customize game where you make a face, find something in the collection. You pose like a sculpture. These are hard‑coded games. We still wanted that to be pulling information from our ‑‑ for our back end system. We set our website the same way so that when you make a face and it finds an object in the collection, it then ‑‑ you can e‑mail it to yourself. And then it sends a live link to our online collection so you can see all the current information about that object and all the assets associated with it, even though the actual game you’re playing is a hard‑coded game that obviously is set up ahead of time and doesn’t pull dynamically from the content you choose.
So people always say: Well, how did you do this? So I tell them it’s my laziness that defined CMA’s Digital Strategy.
I got there in 2010. There was a lot of emphasis on the IT side. We had a bigger Help Desk. And even though we have expanded the museum by 40% of spaces, we could not increase our staff. So I started to do some reorganizing and we have set up a new, cool application team. Niki is the manager of it. She’ll talk about their projects. And this is actually beginning to grow a little bit more, but we have everyone at that table represents every single application that runs in the museum. They work together on every project, even if it has nothing to do with them. They sit together to decide how does that project fit into the big plan.
So, now that we have Gallery One in place, it really was a way for the museum to see how digital strategy helps set everything together. So when I say that laziness puts it together, it’s because when I got to the museum ‑‑ there were three projects. We were going to be doing a new Collection Online. We were picking our new catalog and content management system, and we were making this new space called ‑‑ that became Gallery One but at the time was called lifelong learning center.
So I got there. It had an opening date. And I asked everybody how we were going to maintain it. Was there money put aside for it? That had not been thought ‑‑ that had not clearly been thought about.
So what we ended up doing ‑‑ when I got there, the idea was that this would be a space that you would be given some tool and you would rent it and then you would walk in and there would be these big tables. You would sort of collect objects. At a big table, share them. And then where the Collection Wall was, you would put them on the wall and you would sort and match them in some way. And then when you’re all done, you would push this button and it would print it to an actual printer. Would go home with a printed copy of all the objects you saved that day.
When I heard that was the idea, I was like, oh my God, that is going to be impossible to manage and maintain. Not only is it going to be outdated and where people want to come back and do that again, but how were we ever going to manage that?
So I focused a lot on looking at our backend systems and that became whatever we were going to do, it had a pull from our backend systems.
So we’ve got a new team together. We restructured the content. But that happened because little projects were put in place, test projects were put in place that made Gallery One work as well as it does today.
So now we’re looking at the big picture. We have the ‑‑ the museum has a group together that in the next three months wants a complete digital strategy for the entire museum. Thus we have, I call this the Niki Chart that’s every single application. We found that everything sort of nicely lines up in a category.
We also looked at our hardware and infrastructure systems. So we’re a windows‑based museum, so every single hardware object in Gallery One is run on Windows. Actually, that’s not true. There is one exception. It had a play in the same rules of how Windows would work. And every ‑‑ and now for the museum, every exhibition space, every digital signage, runs the hardware, the infrastructure, the applications, are all in the same way we set Gallery One up so that anybody can manage it and maintain it.
And so Niki will talk to you about a couple of the projects. Since it was going on its own, there was also ‑‑ we now can run every single object from our hand‑held device using logmein. We have had project ideas come to us that don’t want to do that. We never throw away creative ideas. We just figure out, ok, how can we do this idea but that we’ll be able to reuse the content, be able to manage it, and be able to save our resources so that we can do better and even more interesting projects for the museum.
So now I’m going to give it to Niki.
>> Niki Krause: Hi. I have my very own Lightning Talks. Aren’t you excited?
Jane mentioned our whole theory of in the applications team is we look at everything that is expressed to us as a need from any of the departments as far as technology support, we don’t do one‑offs. We try to integrate everything we can.
We showed you the large picture just a second ago. I just wanted you to know, so you don’t have to count yourself, there are, indeed, 34 different backend systems here that all work together plus they’re redundant haves for testing and development. So there are twice this number of systems that we manage in‑house.
I wanted to share a little bit about some of the showcase projects that were going on at the same time we were doing development for Gallery One and during the first year of operations while we were refining the Collection Wall, the ArtLens, and so forth, and getting our workflows and our technical strategy for supporting the space down pat.
The first was an Archival Repository that we put in place to meet the long‑range storage needs of our photography department, first and foremost. The project expanded to include other departments, including obviously our Museum Archives, Art Collections Management Department, Conservation, and our Performing Arts Department. All of them had records that needed to be stored for the long‑term, 100, 200, 300 years because they’re part of our institutional memory.
This is where it fits in the big scheme of things, part of our collection information and scholarship backbone in the blue there. And our approach for this project was pretty simple. Inventory, what we’ve got. Identify the appropriate standards to make a real archival repository. Spend some time and effort putting together the best possible storage platform and management software. Start mapping metadata based on your inventories. Define workflows that make getting information into that long‑term archival repository very efficient for the people who are doing it. And then start ingesting and iterating to refine the process and make sure nothing is missed as we go from the easiest collections to handle to the hardest.
The most important part about this project from a digital strategy standpoint is the platform choice. We didn’t look at in‑house servers and storage and what that meant for our bottom line and the demands that would be placed on staff. We considered hosted solutions and SaaS, both nixed. We settled on a cloud‑based server and storage system.
You say: Niki, archival files for digital masters of your object photography, aren’t those huge? Oh, yeah, they are. We had big concerns in this area. Choosing a cloud‑based solution gave us full access to the server and the management software. We found a top‑flight local provider for a virtual data center that happened to be on our same ISP backbone, on the same fiber trunk. It was absolutely magnificent because this was not a solution that we could have considered if it wasn’t for that fact because that’s where we got the performance of pushing and pulling those big giant files to the Archival Repository. Couldn’t have done that if they were located in Columbus or if it was Amazon. Never could have supported it.
Finally, going with a cloud‑based virtual data center gave us built‑in automatic out‑of‑region redundancy which made this a true archival system according to best practice. You have lots of copies of this vital key information, these archival documents. And you’ve got them several states apart. So if there’s a natural disaster that wipes out one, you still have all the information in the other location.
Our digital asset management system. We spent about a year doing refinement work on our data flows and our Piction system to get everything running right, to support not only Gallery One and the ArtLens but also to support our Collection Online.
This is where our Piction system falls in the big scheme of things, in the same information. We did a DAM upgrade where we upgraded the application. And then we went through a manual re-architecture process to modify the data structure that we had implemented naively almost five years before. We went from a hierarchal record structure in which an object had many references to many different images to a structure in which one image was represented by one record. It made manipulation much easier on the reporting and searching end.
We expanded our staff‑requested tools after we had this flattened structure to allow us to export in PowerPoint and Excel, generate contact sheets for print and do batch downloads not only of the primary object image but of any image in the entire Piction DAM. We integrated our Piction DAM to support our content management system, and this turbo charged our downstream use. We have now just about everybody in the museum with an account Piction. They’re all doing research. That includes some of our security guards.
This is just a quick slide to show you some of the new user functionality that we were able to offer with the details.
The next thing we are working on and are still working on, for those of you who have heard this talk before, is our collections cataloging and management system. We are building our own system specifically to meet the needs we have for a service request module for managing the movement and the requests around our artwork, not just the cataloging portion of it. This is a system that’s built on SharePoint to give us full access to document libraries. And obviously this is going to be the backbone or the central part of the backbone once it’s completed. We’re building it to fit our special needs. It includes object cataloging and beautiful reporting, a full set of document libraries, integration with WorldCat. So we have full citations, integration of the Getty vocabularies and VIAF. So we can have beautiful descriptions for our cataloging and actually use standardized vocabularies which we hadn’t done before and providing collaboration spaces for planning and for exhibition assembly.
The website CMS, we swapped out all of our website CMSs and brought them all on to an open source platform, Drupal 7, for flexibility. We wanted to be able to do ongoing development easily and inexpensively in‑house.
Here are the systems that we modified and switched over to Drupal. Our website, which is the big vertical oval there, our library website, and our staff internet, all of them went to Drupal. The first was our staff internet, our web developer who is coincidentally a rocket scientist, and I mean that literally, learned Drupal for us cutting her teeth on this project. She turned our staff internet from that to that. And then started working on fixing the problems that we had with the website that rolled out just as Jane was starting as the CIO.
We needed to change a website that we had just rolled out to be able to give content page url’s, facilitate SEO, get our images back into the Google Index and have social sharing that actually worked because the implementation that was done by our Marketing Department for our website didn’t support any of those things. And that was a huge problem because if it doesn’t support any of that, we can’t integrate it with anything else, and we can’t use it as a landing pad for social sharing from Gallery One interactives and from ArtLens.
So this is just a quick look at some of the things we did. Changing the backend allowed us also change the homepage to make it more dynamic and make it more visually impactful, bring people in.
We were able to change our content pages. In addition to giving them real addresses, we changed a major problem with navigation. You used to have to read all of your content on a flat page and scroll and scroll to get information. You still have to scroll, but now you know where your navigation is taking you, which is good.
And we also were able to switch to support people who liked black text on white instead of white text on black which was a lucky thing, single biggest complaint about our website.
We updated our Collection Online and added a Zafos‑like search that allowed people who know nothing about the content of our collection to dive in and get absolutely fantastic results while maintaining the visual impact of the browse ability.
And the artwork information collected to allow you read the metadata, see more descriptive information side‑by‑side with the images of the object and to see thumb nails and related content without having to go and click a number as you did on the old implementation.
We also used responsive design in that implementation. Had to back up. This was a rethought project. A year after we launched our Drupal website. We were adding another site to support Smartphones. But a responsive design on our card layouts was awkward, difficult to use, and you couldn’t do it with the one thumb. So we did use jquery mobile to put together a lovely mobile site. That was all going on over the past year.
There are three additional projects that we worked on that are clustered around the website changes but aren’t actually on the website systems themselves. The first dealt with providing a way to show the museum’s transparency. You might have heard the ‑‑ with the Director, our board was questioned, and we want to the show that they were willing to share all information with the public that we had available. We put together a dashboard with no budget whatsoever. It is integrated to social media, to all of our internal systems to pull all the stats possible dynamically. There’s a small handful of them that are still provided and entered manually by our marketing communications staff, but this was a whirlwind technology project that took place over Christmas. And here it is.
Probably the most impactful project that we worked on is our Central Table. And this is going to form the focus that we have going forward in our applications team for this coming year. We put in a Central Table that octopuses out to our business systems and allows us get a single reporting area to see everything about our visitors’ interactions with the museum, pulling information about their donations, their ticketing, their store purchases, how many times they’ve gone in and out of a parking garage, how many times they’ve logged into the website and so forth and see it all in a consolidated report. We started this work last year, tying together our ticketing system and our donor system. We are working now to expand that to include scheduling, parking, the store, as well as integrating it with our CCMS to get donations of artwork on that report as well.
Some of the superficial changes we made for the public side include a revamp of our donation forms to be very clean, very elegant, and work well on mobile devices because we found that many, many people were more apt to when they come to an event immediately jump on and make a donation from their Smartphone. So this beautiful design supports that in a very, very nice way.
And this is the reporting tool that we were able to put together pulling all of that information from the Central Table. And I ghosted out all of the data so you don’t see everybody’s addresses from all of our donors. But it’s lovely. This actually searches across five different systems beautifully.
As you can see, it’s all about the big picture. Every application’s project that we have that comes into the museum we consider in terms of that digital strategy. And we’re kind of celebrating right now because we think we’ve done a really good job so far and we’re look forward to pulling more and more of our systems in line with the strategy and getting them working well.
That’s it. Thank you.
>> Thank you very much, Jane and Niki.
While we swap over the presentations, has anybody got any questions for them?
>> Hi. I’m really fascinated by this project and can’t wait to see it. I was just wondering if you could touch a little bit more on challenges working with Marketing Department. Having a real difficult question arising online versus onsite and in gallery digital media, one superseded over the other.
>> Jane Alexander: One of the things that when I first started also was that the website that had been done ‑‑ when we were doing this project, it wasn’t going to work because they had content providers and brand users and you need to work closely. But what we do is support the entire museum. And if that’s done in a silo, we can’t do half the projects the museum wants to do.
So it was great that the leadership sort of heard what I was saying and that was one of the first things that was moved under IT ‑‑ it was moved under it ‑‑ so we manage it. But we set up a way to govern it. We have a Governance Committee. And everybody on that committee, be it functionality, marketing and design or ecommerce. That way they can work with their teams but come back and we make decisions together. We lead those teams. We don’t choose it; we lead it so that we can remind people of what a decision means and that what we cannot do because it does not support the plan.
>> Ok. One more question? No?
Over there. No? You just moved your hand. Now you have to ask a question. No. I’m only kidding. Ok. All right.
Thanks very much, Jane and Niki. That was great, an amazing amount of work in what seemed like a very short period of time.
So, I’m going to hand over now to Sarah Smith from Reynolda House.
You’re a lot taller than me.
>> Sarah Smith: I think I could have titled this presentation: When you don’t have a rocket scientist on your staff, what do you do? That’s sort of the essence of what I’m talking about today.
I am from Reynolda House Museum of American Art. For those of who you aren’t familiar with what that is, it is located in Winston‑Salem, North Carolina. You might be familiar with Winston‑Salem if you were a smoker, are a smoker, or once knew a smoker. And that’s relevant because Reynolda House is the family home of R.J. Reynolds and his wife Katherine and their four children. They built their home in 1917. Fast forward 50 years later to 1967, R.J. and Katherine’s granddaughter, Barbra Babcock Millhouse founded Reynolda as a Museum of American Art.
So today we have three collections. We have an American Art collection, a Historic House collection that includes the decorative arts and furnishings of the home, and an Estate Archives.
And the Estate Archives’ the repository for the Reynolds’ family and all kinds of photographs, correspondence, all kinds of documentation about the building of the Reynolda House.
We did decide to title building a new wing. Wanted to start ‑‑ making sure that the presentation stays on the screen.
When we started talking about the need of building a new website for our museum, the Marketing Department, which I’m in the Marketing Department, we knew that we wanted it to be bigger than simply a website redesign. We didn’t want it to be like we were just producing a new brochure.
So in the early, early planning meetings for this, we were talking about that, talking around that concept. But we hadn’t really articulated what that meant. If there’s any museum educators in the room, I tip my hat to you because it was our Director of Education who actually heard the words that the Marketing Department was saying and said, you know what, that kind of sounds like when we built the new wing in 2005. It’s going to be that big. And in 2005 the museum expanded beyond the historic house and added a 30,000‑square‑foot wing that had a gallery, education studios, an auditorium and a new visitor orientation space. And when our Director of Education said that, I was like, yes, that’s exactly what we’re doing. Because in this new wing that will be online, we will need curatorial, education, we will need visitor services, we will need marketing. We’ll need facilities.
So her comment and observation really crystallized this project for us.
I’m going to start with kind of the stages of our process. Really, this presentation focuses less on the final product, more on our museum reached that final product. Reynolda is a relatively small museum. There are smaller museums, but in the scope of things we’re pretty small. We have about 40,000 on‑site visitors a year. That’s steadily increased over the past several of years. And, of course, we’re hoping that trajectory continues. We have 24 full‑time staff members and really no one on staff whose sole responsibility was digital or website. A colleague in my department, the Marketing Department, was the website manager but sort of by default, by acquired skill and because nobody else on staff knew how to do it.
So the important ‑‑ really important step for us was to lay the foundation. In 2009, the museum started a strategic planning process which a lot of museums do and institutions do. Ours was a little bit different than maybe some in that it was a non‑linear process. We developed priorities and goals that we revisit every year and make sure that that they are still the goal. Is it still important to us? And how are we going to implement it this year? So we set new priorities and new goals every year.
In 2009, one of the major priorities that we stated was a joint staff and board planning committee was that we wanted to use technology as a way to connect the collection that we had at Reynolda to people, which sounds kind of obvious. But we really hadn’t done that at all up until that point. So by stating it as a strategic priority, we really had the undergirding we needed to launch this other initiative.
A couple of things to know in that laying of the foundation phase. Strong executive drector and board support is required. Our executive director actually was from the Education Department at BMA. Allison Perkins, if anyone in the room knows her. She was a firm believer in choosing the right tools, choosing tools that connect people and really implement our education mission. And have a North Star. By that I simply mean we were able to get that support and push initiatives forward because it was written in our strategic plan. That was our North Star as an institution. And no one could really argue with that.
So the next stage is gathering the raw material. So not long after we finished our strategic planning process, we began a cataloging collections ‑‑ digitizing of our collections. So I mentioned we have three collections. That was a three‑year process that includes getting new high‑res photography of the collections, researching. We really didn’t have a lot of information about some of the objects that were in our collection. So we had two full‑time curators on staff who did that research, and we actually hired another curator to come in and to contribute to that research that was being done about the work.
A priority for our curatorial and collections departments was to really have an incredible depth of information about the objects, which is why we hired a curatorial staff to really enhance and deepen the information we had. So we had artists’ information, information about the work itself. And also all the more traditional things like provenance, bibliography and all of that.
We did purchase TMS as our backend data system. So not long after this process started, we realized that our current website, which had been developed by a team of students at Wake Forest University in 2005 ‑‑ we’re affiliated with Wake Forest University. There was just no way it was going to support the amount of data that was going to be coming with our collections. So we thought: How do we use this opportunity as a way for us to think differently about how we interact with visitors? Again, not just a website redesign. What potential is this going to have for Reynolda to really expand itself beyond Winton Salem, beyond North Carolina?
The other issue is that there is a large group of staff ‑‑ I don’t know about a large group. There was a subset of staff who were like: What’s wrong with the website? I think it’s fine. And it was fine. There was nothing wrong with it. But it really ‑‑ it was just holding us back. It wasn’t going to push us ahead into the next 50 years, the next century of our museum.
So our solution was to form a complementary project to the digitization project that would be called the Digital Engagement Project. We sent out an RFP to several vendors, interactive knowledge being one. My compadres, Tim Songer, Allison and Eric, are here today to support this presentation.
In our request for proposals, one of the things that was important for us, as I mentioned, we had no one on staff dedicated to digital dedicated to web. So we knew we need the support of a partner who could help us think about strategy, help us think about audience, help us really define what it is, this vision, that we couldn’t articulate what it was and what it was going to look like.
A couple of things to know during this phase. Build the help you need into grant proposals. We’re going to talk a little bit about funding in the next phase. But in the cataloging project, we built in two staff members to help with data entry and some research into our grant proposals. So I guess they were three‑year positions that were built into the grants.
As everyone at this conference knows, technology is a moving target. So you kind of have to let yourself be nimble to the systems and the products that you maybe originally envisioned to what has actually been implemented.
So securing the funding. Reynolda House has an annual budget around $3 million. We knew there was no way we were going to be able to undertake either the cataloging project or our digital engagement project without outside funding. So we actually applied for and sought funding from NEA and the IMLS as well as some private donors.
One of the things that we learned through this process, particularly with the private donors, is that donors love details. So our project manager for the Digital Engagement Project was typically someone who does not interface with our donors or our members, more of a behind‑the‑scenes person. But when it came to pitching that person to support this project and when it came to reporting details and status reports, it was beautiful to have that person in the room because she knew the nitty‑gritty of what was going on. Not our development officer, not even me in some cases. So that was a great thing that we learned.
The other thing is, of course, as people you know here, too, grants, you apply for them and it’s months before you find out if you got it. So there was a time period where there was some uncertainty ‑‑ well, we thought there was some uncertainty of, ok, what if we don’t get this IMLS grant? What’s going to happen?
In our case we had the great support of our Executive Director who basically looked us in the eye and said: If we don’t get this grant, we’ll find a way to make it happen. And that was critical for our morale. With basically a two‑person team working on this in the very early stages, we were spending a lot of time working on it. To have the assurance that it was going to happen whether or not we got that grant was really important. Now, if we hadn’t gotten the grant, how that would have happened, I don’t quite know. But I have full faith in my executive director that she had a donor in her pocket or something. I’m not sure.
So a couple of things to know related to funding. Don’t be afraid to talk about yourself. I touched on that with the private donor that I mentioned. During our process, we made presentations to our staff. We made presentations to our board. We made presentations to our community members. There was a lot of talking about yourself. So you kind of have to be comfortable doing that.
The next phase is more where I get into the partnership with interactive knowledge, an incredible resource and true partner in this process. One of the things that we were looking for when we sent out the RFP, as I mentioned, was someone who could ask the questions that we didn’t know we needed to ask yet. When our various proposals came back to the table and we had conversations, really it was Tim ‑‑ a conversation with Tim when he started asking us some questions and Emily and I looked at ourselves and said are: Oh my God, I hadn’t even thought of that. And that’s when we knew this was the right partner for us.
I mentioned our project manager. Some things to know related to sort of managing this project in our case. Our project manager, our ‑‑ I call her Jill of all trades. She was a graphic design and advertising background, but she really was one of those unique people who could mediate across departments. And that was really critical. She had the trust of the Collections Department, the trust of me, the trust of our executive director. So really finding someone who can really cross departments and navigate that was really important.
And obviously being a task master for this type of project is critical. You have to stay on deadline. And you have to kind of be a nag. She was able to do that and still maintain professional ‑‑ good professional working relationships with people across the museum.
If what you want doesn’t exist, don’t settle. Create it. In this, specifically, the interface that TMS offered between the database and the website didn’t meet the vision that our staff had for the type of data and the type of visitor experience they wanted. So we actually went to ‑‑ said you’ve got to build it. We want something different. We want something that isn’t out there on the shelf. So we asked them to work on that for us.
Again, hire vendors that you trust. In our case there was a lot of navigating. There’s Reynolda House. Wake Forest University was our server host. Gallery Systems has our data. And then, of course, Interactive Knowledge was building the site for us. So they were actually representing Reynolda to two extraordinarily important constituents and we needed to trust that they were going to do that in the same manner that we would represent ourselves.
So branding the new wing. I mentioned that in our case that sort of internal buy‑in was as much of an issue as anything. There existed the pervasive thought that the website was in the Marketing Department, the website was a marketing thing. And it was. It was managed through the Marketing Department.
But we were really wanting to shift how people thought about the website, so we started early on ‑‑ this is a word cloud at a full staff meeting, everyone from our executive director down to our facilities and frontline staff. And we said: When you think about Reynolda, when you think about the experience that people have when they see us online, what are the words what are the concepts that come to mind? We kind of used this as our guiding vision, I guess would say, from the tone and the look of the site and were able to take that back to staff once the site was live and say: This reflects the information that we got from you.
So, again, we brand the project in terms of impact, which is consistent with what our strategic planning process was. We called it Reynolda’s Digital Engagement Project. Within that, we developed a team, a team of ‑‑ a core team of three. The project manager was in the Marketing Department. Our director of Collections Management, and our director of Education formed the other legs of that stool.
A few things to know in this phase. Again, listing the support for leadership. When we formed the core team, when we had all staff meeting updates, our executive director was the one who actually made those announcements, he called those meetings. Therefore, it wasn’t the Marketing Department, you know, pushing out a project on the rest of the museum; it was the institution embracing this project.
Project lines can blur. There was a session I guess yesterday or the day before. It’s all blurring together. It talked about blurred lines. And we experienced that as well. In fact, that was one of the ‑‑ probably the most challenging moments for us was when we were building that custom interface, working with collections and working with marketing. There was some territory type thing that started to happen. And there was definitely some conflict about who was really responsible for that piece of the project. We can kind of laugh about it now and look back on it, but there were some heated conversations that took place during that time.
A couple other points. Create benchmarks and celebrate them. I won’t spend too much time on that.
One other tip that we learned is that when we did have updates, it worked really well in our case to not design or decide by committee. So we would actually take recommendations to the core team. And then the core team would take recommendations to our senior leadership and that, again, that kind of kept things on deadline and avoided the decision by committee phase.
So now I’m going to turn it over to Tim Songer from Interactive Knowledge to talk a few minutes about the actual construction process recall in Phase One and Phase Two of our project.
>> Tim Songer: Thanks, Sarah.
I’m Tim Songer with Interactive Knowledge. We’re based in Charlotte. We’re a web developer. We have done a lot of museum work over the years. We were delighted to work with Reynolda House. I’m going to talk a little bit about the process we went through.
As Sarah said, we came in for a consulting contract initially. And we were working with her team and really the whole museum, met a couple of times, during that planning process. What we were doing then was two things. One was really helping them visualize the website and think about how that site could help them meet their mission. And there were several meetings where we did that. It was of a process that was really helpful for us, too. But ultimately what we were doing was coming up with a detailed plan that included some wire frames, some structure that they could then turn into their IMLS grant.
We sent in the grant really before we finished our process. So we did a lot of planning really as the grant was in place. We were, like them, hoping that the grant would get funded. We finished our production of wire frames and planning while we were waiting for the IMLS grant to come in. Once they were funded, we were as excited as any project we had ever won. We had done some IMLS grants in the past with other clients, but this one was in great shape by the time the funding came in.
Our process for production really is pretty straight forward. But, again, we were called into Reynolda House pretty regularly to update the team but also to help, you know, make decisions along the way.
We usually build some pretty complete wire frames. We use an online tool called Axure. I think that’s how they pronounce it. We use those because we’re table to structure ‑‑ we’re able to structure the entire website navigation, include their team in all of the decisions. And the most important part in this project, for us, at least, was getting the collections right, making sure that we were delivering that content in a way that they saw as important, as elegant, and as complete because there was a lot of content in the collections.
The production, we built the site in Drupal 7. I’m not skipping the visual design. It was the next step. After we complete wire frames, we put visual design in the wire frames. There was a lot of discussion around that to make the visual design match the mission of the digital engagement project. They really had an idea of what the site needed to look like and they had beautiful images and we wanted to make sure we showcased them.
After visual design, we went into production. We used Drupal 7 as the framework. The real meat of the work for us was building this integration of the TMS gallery systems database into the online collection site. We’ve been able to do regular updates. Now they’re automatic, nightly updates. When curatorial staff and staff is working within TMS, gallery systems, they make changes to the database, add new content. It automatically now feeds up to the web. So that process is exciting to us. It’s something we worked really hard on.
Once the site launched, we continued support. Like I said, we’re working with Wake Forest, hosting it. That’s part of the process, is helping them keep the site up to date. But the back end is really Reynolda House now. They’re the ones working on it, making changes, updates. It’s really worked out well.
I’m going to plug the Best of the Web because I can’t help myself. You all voted this site as the People’s Choice yesterday. And we were very excited and thrilled.
I’ll turn it back to Sarah to tell you how this project wrapped up.
>> Sarah Smith: Only a couple minutes. I can wrap up quickly. So, it launched in September. So we were done. Project over.
I think, again, for some staff, it was like, oh, is the website done? Are you all done with the website? Of course, as everyone at this event knows, that is just the very, very tip of the iceberg and we’re very, very much still in the phase of, ok, we’ve got it, now what are we going to do.
Just in the last couple of weeks our director of Education has flooded our in‑box with ideas, projects, online galleries. So we’re getting to that point now where a lot of the things that I’ve learned from colleagues in this room and at sessions throughout this week, the ideas that I have been hearing that we’re now getting to that place where we have the resources and we’re in a position where we can make it happen.
I was just going to mention a few things:
What’s the same? The marketing and the interpretive messages of the museum don’t change. They’re just executed differently. So whether or not it’s pushed out via social media or takes a little bit different spin on the website, the point is the same. The message is the same. We just execute it a little differently.
What’s different? We’ve moved to fewer printed pieces. We actually include less text on those printed pieces. We direct people to the website. So, of course, the website is a repository for the detailed information.
And then, when we launched in the fall, we really did kind of a three‑month campaign of routine posts on Facebook and Twitter that highlighted objects from the collection. Again, this was the very first time that we had been able to share these incredible photographs with our followers online. Again, the idea was to continue to push people to the website.
And then, we’re using the tools and maybe we’ll have some opportunity to talk about this later. We did our first virtual exhibition preview back in the fall with great success. I was very happy with that. And we also just launched a gallery with museum hack a couple of months ago that maybe I can talk about later. Again, as an effort to get into the collections in a different way and kind of see what Reynolda is through a different lens.
That’s all I’ve got. Thank you.
>> Thank you so much. A great project. Well done. Congratulations.
Does anybody have any questions for Sarah?
How about the site, the process? Anyone? Nope? Ok.
Alain? Are you ready?
>> Alain Dupuy: There’s only one ‑‑ ok. I’m impressed by the automatic scripting in English. I am not sure that it will understand my accent. Maybe next time it could be very good to speak in French and have a loudspeaker, translating in a very good English, with a very nice voice. Let’s try to do it this way.
I am going to speak of what we called Digital Extension of a museum, the museum history of Marseille.
These first slide explain everything. I may stop here. Because it’s just a very ancient town that was created – 2,600 years ago. The mix of what is new, what is digital. This is all what this application is about.
So what is so interesting in this town that it may have triggered Digital Extension? Well, the fact ‑‑ in order to make a good project, you have to have a good base. If you don’t have anything to speak of, you may be the best, you may wrote the best application. Well, it will be just good in terms of technique, but it may not be emotional. In this case, emotion comes first. And, of course, technique should hide itself in order to enhance emotion and not to decrease the emotion. But emotion is there.
This is a town. This is the center of the town today. This is kind of downtown today. And this is a place where Greek 2600 — 26 centuries ago, founded the town with the entrance of the town, the gate of the town, built there and the main pass within the town being this pass, which is, today, a street.
Here is the Museum of History of Marseille. This is an antique place with remains. This is a place where the gate was. And at the end of the street, this is a new museum, the state museum that was built just last year and opened last year. And that was so beautiful. It was such a chance to propose Digital Extensions. It was obvious. It was accepted as obvious.
And on this street you have almost 20 remains of the past. The past is not only 26th century. It’s also ‑‑ it also relates to any period in the time.
So when you walk, that’s geographic walk, but it’s also kind of an historic walk because you go through middle ages, ancient time, today, just before when the war and so on. This is a base of the emotional part of the project.
Now, we can illustrate in being in the museum. We are going to be outside on the mobile application. Not only here but also in the street.
Let’s begin to be here. We start. And this is a place ‑‑ this is a position of person taking photograph but, in fact, she doesn’t take photograph. She’s in a model, in a 3D model. I don’t want to say a new type of augmented reality. It’s augmented reality is just augment reality by adding something. It may not be only on the screen with indication, with raise, it may be just ‑‑ what you have in your tablet is this. And, of course, this is not an image in itself. It’s a model.
So when you turn around, when you go down, up, it follows your movement and it shows what the place was at the ancient time. Here at the Roman time of the place.
Same. You just go. And this is a gate. That’s the Roman time of this place.
So you choose the model you want to be in. And there is another model which is just today as a symbolic model. We want to explain. We don’t want to just emerge people in models. We want them to understand and we want them to learn. So we decided that the learning part will be in the model of today.
So there are the stones. They can organize a real stone. We didn’t want to make a real picture of the stone because they are there. We just wanted to make some hints, shape, and way of explanation. These are hot spots. If you trigger the hot spot, you have people speaking to you. And we did choose the scientist. We tried to edit what they were saying, that was harder. You know, a lot of ‑‑ we tried to edit the quickest way as we can so people can turn around, see hot spot, touch the hot spot, and understand. And then and only then emerge in a model which is, for example, here is the Greek time, the Roman time.
So we have in this kind of remain garden, the three models.
I don’t want to be too long.
What is important, too, it’s not only to show what it was in a model, but we want also to make some connection between what people see on spot, outside, and what they can see in the museum.
This is outside. And obviously this in the museum is a remain of one of the boats that was found here at this place. So we show it and we make relationship between what is in the museum and what is outside and also the reverse, of course.
Outside, on the street, we have the same type of model that is people walk and they can see what’s the street today. And we have that model which symbolize the street, symbolizes a place which are interesting. You can see the spot. This is the spot where we advise folks where they can trigger. They can do it today or tomorrow. Later. Because they can register. And everything is recorded so that they can find exactly what they have done and keep on doing the next day, what they have done, for example with their family.
This is a street. This is a symbolic model. They know that they arrived here. And the same. They go in the model. This is, for example, a model of the place as the church was built in the middle ages. So this is the model of the place. As a matter of fact, the model is all town long. And they may go inside and add information. And also we still make connection with the model. And this is one of the stones that was ‑‑ the basis. And we made the connection between what is outside and what is inside the museum.
This is another place. This is the today place. But as a matter of fact, this has been the place 20 years ago before building that. This is a place where they found a lot of remains, a boat.
When people arrive here, they may trigger movie. The movie explains what is today, what was re‑‑ what was digging, the archaeological work, and what they saw. And this is one of the scientists that found the object in the places.
How does it work? Better to read than to hear me.
And, of course, this is another kind of model. People are on this place. With the tablet, they can look down and kind of rediscover the remains, the real place where they were founded.
I insist, everything is real. Everything has been discussed with scientists. We will speak of that later.
Again, there is a connection with the boat that you can see beneath, in the place of the parking. And what is shown in the museum.
I was speaking of emotion. I want to share a bit of emotion with you. You see, this is today. So it is a place. This before, just a moment before, is the scientist that made the discovery. These are photographs and video of what happened 20 years ago.
So this is at the same time, 20 years ago, scientist, place, parking, and here is the boat that you can see where it was, in the museum. And you can see the details of the boat.
And this is a boat that was made before people found the technique of assembling a piece of wood. These are pieces of wood that are sewn. You can see the thread made of organic plants. It is minus 550.
So you can see ‑‑ imagine people making the thread. You can see ‑‑ imagine people making and sewing the piece of boat. So you are in the place. You can imagine that. It doesn’t work here. That kind of information. You may imagine what it is. You are under place with cars. You listen to people that made the discovery 20 years ago. You can see that. You can be in the relationship with people that founded the town or maybe their son ‑‑ well, you can look then at the landscape another way. This is very important to make people change their look and look at object, architecture, things, and think of people that created the town and everything else.
Here we are at another place. This district was destroyed during the World War II. This was a landscape then. So we are here. Along the street where we are speaking of is along this. This line of buildings and everything was destroyed. And we want to make people, today, with their tablet, understand, share that historic, if I can say so, moment of the town.
So this is a street. You can see that here are all types of houses that were the ones that were not destroyed. And on this side you can mark that it is from the 50’s and not before.
Of course, this was exactly what happened. This is a model. So people are on the street and are in the model and they can see what happened.
By chance, there was a patisserie at that time. And today there is still a Patisserie.
You can see that kind of special window. You can see that’s in reality. So people are really emerged.
Well, I think ‑‑ and, again, same thing in the other part of the town.
I’m trying to make some difficult, dangerous maybe ‑‑ maybe not. Let’s see what happens.
This is a model I was speaking of. When people walk in the street, which is symbolized here, it develops ‑‑ you are walking at the same time in the street and in the model. And, of course ‑‑ this has been designed to see what is very important in the promenade.
Let’s go to another one. We are going to discover where they are. This is one ‑‑ excuse me. You can imagine. What I want to say that I cannot use ‑‑ this is a very important place. That was a place where the status of the town was stored. And everything can be explained. Now there is another building. It has been changed. But you can understand what it is.
Let me go out on this one. No. This one. Yup. Excuse me.
This is the one that you have seen. And when people walk, they can see what was the result of the destruction of this district. And, of course, again, this is not a photograph. This is not 360 photography. You may just walk. And go as far as ‑‑ I don’t want to be too long because I’m sure that you will ‑‑ oop. You will have questions.
I’m doing very dangerous thing that I would not advise to my students. You should never do that.
This is the entrance of the town. So this is a Greek time. You can see that outside the town ‑‑ woop. What I am showing at the center, for the Greek time, outside of the town. You can see that on this side it’s connected to the sea but it’s kind of a lake. There is nothing outside.
Let’s go back to this entrance. If I do again this. And if I go to the last one, hopefully we are at the same place but we can see the Roman time that is five centuries later. This is an aqueduct that is water in the town. You know, the Romans were builders and were taking care of water. And we can see that. And this has been built as a hub. And boats are coming just in front of the door of the gate of the town.
So you can see ‑‑ there is 400 files, audio files, from scientists, 400 files. And there is 30 video files explaining everything on top of this.
Let’s go. ‑‑ go back to this. Yup.
Thanks to the people that made this project happen. So finance on one side and maybe worth on the other side.
What I want to share with you is not only that project, there is a lot of project. You are not here to just look at project. I want to share with you and with your question, what was difficult in the project. You may have a question, too.
What was difficult in the project and what took us 10 times more than we expected is the discussion with scientists. But we liked it. And we wanted it. Maybe as a project of the type we will not be so open to discussion. This is a first — this is a kind of a window. This is I think, but you are the one to tell it, I think that we are somewhat ahead in the time because we have the chance. We are at the right place at the right time with the right budget. So it makes sense to be a bit ahead. But it was difficult.
The first difficulty was this. This is a plan. And when we spoke with archaeologists, it was wonderful. They knew everything about the plans. They could tell you ‑‑ they could tell us what was that stone, where the stone was, very precisely.
The trick is, we went back to them and told, well, what do you think of this? And between this and this, well, the difference is really slight but at the same time enormous. You have to decide what the shape is, what the age is, where the roof is. Are there windows? No windows? We spent an awful amount of time discussing with scientists, for example, this is, you remember, the aqueduct to — at the Roman time, the water, go inside the town. One scientist said five meters, the other 10, the other 15. It was not possible to decide and to make them decide what was right.
At one time the answer was, we cannot decide so you don’t make any drawing of that. And, of course, we refused.
What we did, we modeled it. We went on the spot and we showed them what it was. And they were really, really surprised.
Let me jump to another difficulty. This was a difficulty not with the scientist but with the user. Some of the users came back to us and said, “It doesn’t work. Look, we have a gray image.” This is very important that you know that. Because this was just here, but they were handling the tablet this way. And, of course in a 3D model, you see the direction where the tablet is facing, that is the street, the concrete, the Roman concrete. So you know, you have to explain to people that, well, they can read and trigger buttons but at one time within the model they have to look.
One minute. Ok. A minute. Ok. Is that right?
I’m going to jump to the last slide. It’s a bit complex but I want to follow the time, maybe next year. ‑‑ save it for another time, maybe next year.
Why not? This is the museum. Inside the museum there is a lot of equipment. In old times the equipment were powered by specific software. Now you have to develop even specific equipment using only web type applications so that what you built inside is powered the same way as any kind of website. There is no reason why it’s not just one specific screen connected to a specific website. So this is symbolizing the web engine that power all the multimedia within the museum. What we have seen is the mobile application outside the museum, in the garden and in the street.
And this is a standard website, the website of the museum. You can buy tickets. You can prepare your visit. You can say your name. You can tell that you are a teacher with 30 people that these 30 people are going to play a role within the museum, that they will access their friends through social network. And when you come from office or from school, you are recognized and you get a special ticket and your tablet is triggered with what you have prepared. And you go through the museum. And when you are back at home or at school, everything that you have done is recorded and the professor can display what the groups have done, explain, and so on and so on.
I am going to stop here because there is one hour that we may speak of that. This is what I call ‑‑ what we may all call, the notion of Global Museum which is at the same time build as an architecturally real place and which is also built in the digital world. This is a new ‑‑ well, a new kind of work for curators because they should be curators of the Global Museum not only of one part of the museum.
Any questions for Alain? Yes?
>> Nice speech. I really liked your style. Thanks.
I have two questions. What did you do about excavation communication? Is it also on the street or is it on the museums? Like telling people that this is available.
>> Alain Dupuy: It is at the office of tourist office. And also within the museum and other ‑‑ all the museum. As a matter of fact, it has been launched in December. So it’s working, but, you know, the first week, the first months. So the real launching will be by May or June. So we are ‑‑ we are testing it.
I should confess one thing that I didn’t mention and that I have to mention to be frank with you. The town was really proud of investing in this application and to be a bit ahead in this field. The thing is, we should face not only the museum but the organization of the town. And I should confess that the Wi‑Fi is not completely installed in the street.
So the next fight or the next discussion that I should have with the town is: You may be one of the first with this application. You have to be one of the first with having the support for the application.
>> About metrcs. You had a soft launch?
>> Alain Dupuy: Yeah ‑‑ no. That will be next year.
>> Ok. Thank you.
>> Alain Dupuy: Thank you.
>> Any other questions for Alain? No?
Thank you very much, again, Alain.
Any final questions for Jane, Niki, Sarah?
No? Last chance. 2014 going, going, going.
Thanks so much, everybody.
>> I have some postcards from our new site that I would love to share with anyone.
[The presentation ended at 2:57 p.m.]