The Natural History Museum in LA County just launched the Urban Nature Research Center to promote the study of wildlife in densely populated Southern California. This is a new twist for the 103 year old institution and it is the first project of its kind in the United States.
The new initiative will combine the work of NHM’s Nature Garden and Nature Lab, which focus on plants and animals on museum property, with its various citizen-science projects and animal surveys, all with a budget of $250,000 a year.
The ultimate goal is to increase knowledge and understanding of the ecosystems in L.A.’s mountains, parks, streets, backyards and even medians.
There have been many exciting new species discoveries right in LA, including 43 new species of fly. And with this new program the ability to catalog and use that data increases immensely.
NHM will also have the ability to utilize the “citizen science” program. Basically, every day people get to participate in plant and animal surveys and submit that data using their smartphones to platforms like iNaturalist. Although many aren’t familiar with the program, Lila Higgins, NHM’s manager of citizen science “is working to change that by reaching out to communities across the region and asking them to look at the animals around them.”
NHM is also launching what it’s calling the world’s largest biodiversity project, dubbed the SuperProject, that will examine 200 urban-nature sites from the coast to the desert.
All in all, NHM’s new focus is part of a larger shift from museums and how they are setting about redefining their role in the community and beyond.
Lila Higgins says, “we’re really trying to push it forward and see how we can work with our communities […] and I think the Urban Nature Research Center is the perfect example of that.”
Credit Brooklyn Museum
The free ASK Brooklyn Museum app has been in testing this past year and it just launched on iOS and became available on Android last month. The innovative technology is unique to the museum, said Shelley Bernstein, the vice director of digital engagement and technology at the museum, and was implemented to help visitors better engage with and make connections between the works in the 560,000-square-foot museum.
The app only works in the museum but it allows visitors to ask questions and share photos of objects on display in real time. On average, a member of the six-person Audience Engagement Team will respond within 45 seconds. The exchange is as anonymous as the user wants it to be.
It is important to note that the Museum wants to promote engagement and not have people getting sucked into their phones.” Audience Engagement Team member Andrew Hawkes says, “they’re looking more closely at the art, they’re noticing things, they’re thinking more critically about the work and learning more. That’s a really great feeling.”
Since its launch, there have been about 4,000 conversations through the app. The museum is using data pulled from those exchanges to improve collection installations and exhibition design. It expects about 1% of visitors overall to use the app.
As, Bernstein says, “there’s lots of information in the building, and some want this experience, some want a guided experience. It fits within that framework.”
We are definitely excited to see how ASK will promote audience engagement and get visitors to look at the artwork in new creative ways.
On February 11 & 12, 2016, The Getty Conservation Institute and the Lunder Conservation Center at the Smithsonian will give a 2-day master class on recent developments in museum and gallery lighting. Although the application period is closed the topic itself is of utmost importance for the green museum world.
As Getty states, “this master class will present a structured framework for understanding and discussing recent advances and methodologies for the effective use and evaluation of the new generation of LED lighting, including the accompanying control options for museum settings. It will specifically address the opportunities and challenges of the introduction of color-tunable LED lighting systems and will explore how these can be utilized in museum exhibits. It will also reflect on energy consumption issues of new LED lighting systems.”
The UK’s Museum Association also did a comprehensive article that is still relevant on whether or not it is time to invest in LED lighting, it’s worth a read!