Jul 7, 2011

Multimedia, Multi-Touch, and Visitor Participation at the Levine Museum of the New South

I had the pleasure of visiting the Levine Museum of the New South with my daughter, a history buff, and my 7 month old grandbaby. It was his first trip to a museum, and he loved it - the pictures, the hands-on exhibits, and of course, the multimedia technology. Future historian?  Museum curator?  Digital archivist?  We'll see...

We had a chance to explore the Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers exhibit and Whirlwind of Growth, updated to take a look at the past decade and how recent events, such as rapid population growth in the region (69% between 1990, the year I moved to Charlotte, and 2010), recession and financial crisis, have impacted the Charlotte region and the Carolinas.

I especially liked the New South TalkBack part of the exhibit. I think the TalkBack feature was originally part of the Changing Places exhibit, a multi-part project that focuses on how people in the Charlotte region deal with the growing cultural diversity and steady stream of newcomers who come from just about everywhere, and how newcomers experience their transition to the area.  The exhibit was unveiled in February of 2009, and due to positive feedback, was extended well past the planned ending date.  The exhibit's impact was extended to the virtual world through  the Changing Places Project website, as well as the museum's YouTube channel. Both are great places to explore. 

I'd like to share a bit more about the Levine Museum of the New South "experience" from content related to the Changing Places: From Black and White to Technicolor® exhibit:

This overview video of the Changing Places exhibit at the Levine Museum provides a good dose of civic pride.  I've lived in the Charlotte area since 1990 and have come to appreciate the rich tapestry that makes up our community, reflected in the short stories (and songs!) shared in the visitors' video clips.

Changing Places "Our History":

(I especially liked the uplifting background music in this video.)

Changing Places: "The Out of Towners" is a mashup of clips created by visitors to the Levine Museum who come from other places in the US and around the globe:

For more videos from Levine Museum visitors, take a look at the Levine Museum's YouTube channel.   The videos are much better than what I took using my cell phone video cam, below:

New South Talkback, Levine Museum of the New South

What I didn't like so much...

Below is a video of a multi-touch picture/info display, part of the exhibit.  I didn't like it very much, as the screen was very cluttered and the content was "jumpy" at the slightest touch. Given my interest in large displays, multi-touch, and gesture interaction, my expectations were pretty high:


Perhaps it is my civic duty to volunteer with a few other multi-touch techies to create a "redo" of this application!  

The following links are to some of the organizations/people who work or have worked in partnership with the Levine Museum of the New South:
Darcie Fohrman, Exhibit Developer and Designer, Changing Places
Irene Morris , Graphic Design, Changing Places
Dr. Pamela Grundy, curator, Changing Places
Dr. Tom Hanchett, assistant curator, Changing Places
Sarah Bryan, researcher, Changing Places
New Granada Productions, edited video footage from the Talkback Booth at the Levine Museum, spanning the course of 14 months.
Studio Displays, Inc.  (Changing Places)
Brad Larson Media "Using technology to encourage family learning in museums, zoos, and other public places" (Changing Places)
Community Building Initiative
Emulsion Arts, Film production, Changing Places
Luquire George Andrews, Changing Places (PR, brand strategy, media planning, digital solutions, located in Charlotte, NC)
Nancy Pierce, Photographer, Changing Places
Michael Daul, Kaplan & Associates Cultural Resources, Online Curator, Website Design and Development, Changing Places

Video preview of the new section of the exhibit, including some shots of "Remix History":

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