Capturing Memories with MOUSE at the American Museum Of Natural History

In February we developed a fascinating new program with MOUSE: Capturing Memories.

MOUSE just posted a great update of their experience. Check it out here, or just read below.

Capturing Memories with MOUSE at the American Museum Of Natural History

Event ImageDuring their February school vacation, nine MOUSE students from two NYC MOUSE Squads went behind the scenes at the American Museum of Natural History to participate in a Digital Archiving Apprenticeship! Through this unique apprenticeship, students helped to research, design and digitize objects from the AMNH Library’s museum memorabilia archive.

MOUSE students began their first day as digital archivists learning about how objects in museum exhibits organized into exhibits and displays. Next, students toured the museum’s “Poison” exhibit and learned about the history of toxins and use of poisons. After a lunch break, students learned the 3D design program SketchUp, followed by 123D Catch, a program that creates digital 3D models of large objects using a series of photographs. Students also learned how to scan smaller objects with the MakerBot Digitizer.

Using these lessons and 123D Catch on their iPads, students captured images of the dioramas in Akeley Hall of African Mammals. Their first day as digital archivists officially ended with learning how to clean up their 3D models using MeshMixer software.

On their second day, students toured the library’s archives, where they were introduced to the memorabilia they would be working with.

After this tour and a lunch break, students formed groups and began to research and scan their objects. While some groups scanned objects with 123D Catch or MakerBot Digitizers, others did research in the library’s collections to learn more about each scanned object or photographed real fossils on display in the Dinosaur and Extinct Mammal exhibits.

On their final day as Digital Archivists, the students finished scanning objects, cleaned models with MeshMixer, and researched exhibits. Then, they uploaded their models and research to Thingiverse, a site created by MakerBot to share user-created digital design files, and printed their objects using MakerBot Replicator 3D Printers.

Next, the students revisited the museum’s famous animal dioramas and the Poison exhibit to learn about the technology and design that was required to create the features of each exhibit.

With these in-depth lessons, students began planning the pop-up exhibits they would create at their own schools using the 3D models and research they completed to educate their classmates about their experiences as as AMNH Digital Archivists. The students of Halsey JHS planned to display their 3D models and research as well as photos of their process creating the exhibit. The students of P256Q will create an exhibit that is accessible to people of all abilities. The students also got to take home their 3D printed models they had spent three days working on to create!

The students ended their apprenticeship by discussing their experience as digital archivists. One of the students expressed that “this experience was great and something I will never forget” and all of the digital archivists agreed that they were more interested in science because of the work they completed during their apprenticeships.

Special thanks to The American Museum of Natural History for this awesome opportunity and to the MOUSE students of Halsey JHS and P256Q for being amazing Digital Archivists!

View photos from the Digital Archiving Apprencticeship of


About Barry

The Associate Director For Digital Learning, Youth Initiatives at the American Museum of Natural History.
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