Community / December 2015

Highlights from the MCN & IMLS Focus Conferences 2015

In November, I had the opportunity to attend two great conferences: the Museum Computer Network (MCN) annual conference in Minneapolis and IMLS Focus in New Orleans. These events featured talks on issues impacting the field, exciting new technologies and trends, and the opportunity for us to share our work.

1. Talking about Remembering Lincoln

Ford’s Theatre’s David McKenzie (@dpmckenzie) gave a talk at MCN on Remembering Lincoln, the online archive and exhibit around Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. He spoke about early user research conducted with teachers and museum visitors and the advantages of having a detailed project plan in the form of a Product Definition Document, outlining use cases, features, and audiences. See his blog post on At IMLS Focus, I gave a project showcase on Remembering Lincoln, where I presented alongside a dozen other IMLS funded projects about our approach to building an online-only exhibit, archive, and educational resource (including some of the Praline Company’s finest candy). We even had the opportunity to meet some of the institutions that contributed to the collection!

2. Introduction to Omeka S

At the IMLS Focus Conference, Sheila Brennan (@sherah1918) gave a talk on the development of Omeka S, the next generation of Omeka. The new version is a complete revamp of the interface and also provides several great new features. The addition of multisite allows for institutions that deploy many Omeka sites to use a single installation of the system. Improved interoperability with other systems, like Fedora and other collection management systems, makes the process of integrating external databases easier. It also showcases some new ways of thinking about data, including Item Sets instead of Collections (for more flexibility) and Vocabularies (for extending the way that you can describe and categorize metadata). The open source framework is in open development, with an alpha version currently available via GitHub.

3. Deploying web-based kiosks with Stele

Bryan Kennedy (@xbryanx), Director of Exhibit Media at the Science Museum of Minnesota, shared an open source project produced by the museum called Stele, a control system for web-based kiosks that runs on Chrome. This is an open source alternative to several other full-screen kiosk browsers, and we’re excited to give it a try on a future project.

iPad at MCN
4. Exploring local museums

While attending both conferences, I had the chance to explore several local museums, including the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) and Mill City Museum in the Twin Cities, and the WWII Museum in New Orleans. The opening reception for MCN was held at MIA, where they’ve created a series of iPad applications called ArtStories throughout the museum to allow for individual reflection of spotlight objects in the collection. The WWII Museum had a number of digital experiences that helped tell the stories of real individuals involved in the war.

MCN and IMLS Focus were both incredible experiences to learn, share, and meet like-minded people. I’m excited to attend again next year, and I’m looking forward to other great events coming up in the spring—I’ll be presenting on User Experience for Museum Professionals at Museums and the Web in Los Angeles.