Monday, 10 October 2016

FINALLY, WE CAN CURATE AT THE SMITHSONIAN. . . KIND OF

MUSEUM INNOVATIONS

BY: KELLY MACKENZIE


The internet can be a wonderful thing, making resources available to new and more diverse audiences. Museums have taken advantage of this and created some amazing online resources for their publics. Unfortunately, museums do not have their whole collection online, it is a process that takes numerous resources (time, staff, and equipment just to name a few) that museums do not always have easy access to. Simultaneously, schools cannot always afford to go to museums and have to rely on this online content. In addition, just because an institution has some of their collection digitized or have resources in the “Learning” section of their website, does it mean teachers have everything they need to share the resources of cultural institutions with their students? No. 

Digitizing collections and resources. . . more complex than expected (source)

 Even museums have to prioritize what the focus of their “Learning” section will be based on their available resources, time, available material, and cost to create a teaching/learning resource that will be useful to the largest number of people.

So what is a teacher to do when they want to show their students artefacts from a particular moment in time or significant person to complement their lesson? The Smithsonian Institute has come up with an innovative and fun solution.

Everybody DANCE NOW! (source)

This past June, they debuted the Smithsonian Learning Lab. This engaging resource enables the user to find digital resources, images, and audio to create their own “exhibit” that can be shared with others or kept private. Creating an account is easy and, more importantly, free!

Once you have your account, you create your own collection, then simply search the Smithsonian website and add your favourite findings. An added benefit to the Smithsonian Learning Lab is the ability to add your own resources, images you have made, a resource list for useful sources, or maybe an assignment or activity for students.

While the Learning Lab is valuable for teachers, it has also has success with students. Students can create their own collections, their own assignments, and quizzes and share them with each other. They can explore artworks, artefacts, audio and video recordings, and teaching material created by the Smithsonian (source).

The Smithsonian has developed an amazing resource that anyone can use to explore (and add to) their collection. I encourage you to check it out and make your collections public so they can benefit everyone, such as my (simple yet amazing) Joan of Arc Collection!

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