MicroRangers Back in the Studio

Earlier this summer, after a competitive audition process, we brought youth from across our Education programs into the AMNH sound studio to record audio for MicroRangers, our upcoming, Hall-based mobile game.

This is always an exciting time, as the project moves from the concept on the scripted page to the realities of the spoken word, as embodied and shaped by each particular youth. For example, who knew Dr. Polyp would turn out to be Scottish!

Each youth read their lines from within the soundbooth. Outside the booth, Hannah coordinated both the sound engineer and the audio director, Murray from Geomedia, Skyping in from Texas. Below are just a few examples from the recording sessions:

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The Robots Are Coming: An Interview with Jennifer Arseneau on Roaming Telepresence Robots

The robots are coming! The robots are coming! A year ago the Tate Britain ran After Dark, from August 13-17, which they promoted with the following offer: “Control robots roaming around the gallery from the comfort of your sofa.” A few lucky virtual visitors controlled the robots while the masses could virtually follow along.

Since then, these roaming telepresence robots have been popping up all over the place, including the season finale of last season’s TV show, Modern Family:

This summer I learned of the first museum that I’ve heard of putting one of these to work full time (and if you know of others, please send them my way).  So I called Jennifer Arseneau, the general manager of Education and Public Programs at the University of Alaska‘s Museum of the North, in Fairbanks, Alaska, to find out what they were thinking, and how they are using technology to bring people closer together, providing insight into one possible direction for the future of the museum experience.

Jen, welcome to Mooshme. To provide some context, please tell us about your museum. Continue reading

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Revisiting Past Practices through a Contemporary Digital Lens: NYPL’s Public Eye

If you’ve never been to the main branch of New York City’s Public Library, on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street in a magnificent Beaux-Arts landmark building, you might not realized it also houses lovely exhibit spaces (free for all to walk in).

Yesterday I checked out Public Eye: 175 Years of Sharing Photography, a lovely exhibit they describe as their “first-ever retrospective survey of photography organized by NYPL.” Rather than frame the photos in their historic context, the exhibit uses contemporary social media practices, such as photo sharing, to view these photos as pre-digital antecedents. That’s an interesting twist – so rather than view a wall of Facebook profiles the exhibit highlights photos from the early day of photography that played similar, or related, social functions. It was a refreshing way to help visitors find meaning in past objects.

I was still disappointed that the exhibit didn’t include contemporary practices but, given those digital assets are outside the Library’s collection, I understood that said more about me than the exhibit. But the Library did go beyond their collections to include new digital interactives and opportunities for visitors to bring the exhibit into their social network.

UntitledAbove might be a challenging image to interpret. It appears to be a camera looking down at a couple (my wife and I, incongruously with an umbrella) standing next to a phrase and hashtag on the floor. In fact, my wife is the one taking the photo, on her phone, looking UP at a mirror slanted over head, the phrase and hashtag printed BACKWARDS on the ground (note the backwards EXIT sign behind us). In other words, as we entered the exhibit, we had to pass beneath a slanted mirror reflecting our image back to us, perfectly framed and titled for selfies and social media sharing. Very smart. And for those uninterested in selfies, the experience reflects one of the contemporary themes of the exhibit – in our era of pervasive surveillance, we are all always in the public eye. Check out the latest images posted by visitors here.

There were also two digital interactives in the exhibit. Unfortunately, both were broken. The good news is that both are available online:

On Broadway: “Representing digital traces of life in a twenty-first century city, On Broadway compiles images and other data collected along the thirteen miles of Broadway that span Manhattan.”

Stereogranimator: “View, create, and share 3D images from the stereograph collections of The New York Public Library and Boston Public Library. You can also stereogranimate your own photos via Flickr.”

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Object Oriented – Episode 2 – Games-based Learning in Museum Education

Object Oriented – Episode 2 – Games-based Learning in Museum Education

This episode of Object Oriented explores the ideas of games-based learning. It includes short excerpts from the @MMMooshme interview with Bernie deKoven and then explores examples from youth programs.

This podcast is hosted by Eve Gaus, (Digital Learning Manager at The Field Museum), Rik Panganiban (Senior Manager of Digital Learning at the California Academy of Sciences), and myself,  Barry Joseph (Associate Director of Digital Learning at the American Museum of Natural History).

—x—x— segments —x—x—

00:00 – 01:46 Teaser – Inspiration through Games
01:46 – 02:45 Introduction
02:45 – 17:50 Games, learning and museums – what’s the point?
17:50 – 38:00 Examples of games-based learning in museums
38:00 – 47:20 News of the Future, with Elizabeth Merritt
47:20 – 48:38 Follow us online

—x—x— show notes —x—x— Continue reading

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MAKESHOP at Pittsburgh’s Children’s Museum

During my visit this week to the Serious Play conference, I took a brief detour and got a fantastic trip to the MAKESHOP at the Pittsburgh’s Children’s Museum, lead by my colleague Lisa Brahms, their Director of Learning and Research. (Long-time Mooshme fans might recall I interviewed Lisa back in 2013 about the space). It is an amazing space, scaffolding self-directed learning for children of all ages, through an amazing investment in staff capacity, prototyping, and research.

Sorry there’s no audio, but enjoy the tour:

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Creating the GLS Museum of Natural History

At this year’s Games, Learning and Society Conference (GLS), I worked with Nick Fortugno, Debra Everett-Lane, and Hannah Jaris to create a unique conference experience to explore what it means for contemporary museums to bring games to the public (Nick had to step out at the last minute and we very much appreciate Christine Walsh for stepping in).

Rather than just TALK TALK TALK about it (which we did for the second half), we designed an interactive, project-based activity for the first half – not just for the participants but also for others to check-out over the course of the conference. The project was to build a pop-up museum, not just an exercise at the conceptual level, but a real one, with real donated objects. Before we explored games as constructed public experiences we aimed to situate that process within museums as designed experiences, and then explore what happens when the two are combined. Continue reading

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The GLS (Games, Learning and Society) Museum of Natural History opens next week in Madison, Wisconsin

The pop-up GLS Museum of Natural History will be opening next week, on July 8th, at 2:30 – 3:30. Everyone is invited to help build the museum and explore the relationship between museum design and game play.


Donations are still being accepted. Please drop them off at the office of Amanda Ochsner. We are currently filing GLS socks, badges, t-shirts, posters, laptop stickers, and more. We are looking for anything related to GLS over it’s 11 yea history that has meaning to you. If you intend to submit an object into the collection, please fill out the submission form here, once per object.

If you would like to help curate the Museum, arrive a few minutes early.

The official information about the event from the GLS program is below:

The GLS Museum of Natural History: Gaming Square Pegs into Dinosaur-shaped Holes
Barry Joseph, Nick Fortugno, Debra Everett-Lane
Wednesday July 8, 2015 2:30pm – 3:30pm
Main Lounge

The American Museum of Natural History was founded in 1869 and soon became a world leader in presenting artifacts from nature and culture to the public. From magic lantern slides to immersive dioramas, it has innovated new pathways for visitors to connect with science and their place in the universe. In recent years, the Museum has explored a new cutting-edge dimension in the museum experience: game design. This panel will challenge participants to travel with us to the GLS Museum of Natural History. Led by our tour guides – a museum educator, a game designer, and an experience designer – participants will question and reinvent the idea of what a museum is by creating, interpreting, and playing with exhibits themselves. This experience leads into a larger discussion of game design at museums as reflected in three recent and diverse projects: MicroRangers, Playing With Dinos, and Killer Snails.

A close-up of one object in the collection.

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