Gathering Stories from Home: Marco Island Center for the Arts
Following up on our announcement three weeks ago of our new online story recording service, I’m happy to send word of our project using the service with Marco Island Center for the Arts. We began working with the Center early this year to provide both a permanent Storykiosk for exhibits as well as portable one to take to community events. The Center is celebrating its 50th year, and as I’ve noted from past projects, anniversaries present a great opportunity to gather stories about an organization’s past, present, and future.
Then…the coronavirus pandemic struck. We moved quickly to add a new component to plans — the ability to record stories on users’ own devices from their homes. Members can receive a recording link via email from the Center or via social media, then record and submit on their own. Stories are automatically uploaded to our cloud-based Content Management Service, where staff can review them, create playlists, and quickly modify questions on the system.
Show and tell from home
As we thought about the kind of questions people would respond to, we realized that “show and tell” is a format that could lend itself very well to these times. The phrase “stuck at home” has an added reality, and in that time also the opportunity to create. It provides a special opportunity for the Arts Center to ask about things people are making at home. Our questions include:
- SHOW us something you’ve made at home during the coronavirus pandemic, and TELL us about it.
- What do you miss most about Marco Island Center for the Arts during this time?
- When the Arts Center reopens, what should we do first?
Exhibit layers: a post-quarantine approach
I was struck when I visit the Center by the signature physical component for their anniversary: a replica of the Friendship 7 space capsule that carried John Glenn around the Earth. Stories in all forms: artworks, written, and recorded, will be sealed in the capsule for 50 years, then opened on the 100th anniversary of the Center. It’s a compelling physical vehicle to make the gathering of stories more concrete, with a specific location.
A compelling physical object that can be contributed to and interacted with by visitors both at the museum and at home points to a potential new model. It’s a model that layers in the reality that we need to design new exhibits maybe as much for offsite members as for onsite visitors.
We also created an e-card where visitors can insert their own image into the capsule after recording their story in the exhibit-based Storykiosk version of the program. This builds another bridge between the Center’s physical location and homes.
Try it out: a low-cost startup
I’ve been thinking of a new model for our own work that draws on a wider pool of museum partners, with much lower budgets. On that front, we’re offering for the moment a chance to sign up for the entry level online recording service for $395 setup fee, and $100/month for the service. This includes access to our cloud-based content management system allowing easy modification of the customized program, and quick review of all stories submitted. We’ll continue to offer this at least as long as museum audiences are confined by quarantines and advisories.