May 18, 2012
The National Museum of the American Indian was gearing up for their Children's Celebration, ensuing the following weekend, with a performance for school groups on Friday morning. The King's Island Dancers and Singers shared a traditional Alaskan experience, including the use of masks and gloves. Everyone who performed was related: cousins, aunts, uncles, parents and siblings.Education Center and Diker Pavilion, where we discovered our favorite exhibit, Small Spirits, dedicated to dolls!
May 31, 2012
When I arrived I went to the Resource Center Reference Library and signed in, requesting some of the museum texts that I found online in the eCommerce store and needed as references for both my final paper and Wikipedia page edits. I read two of them and took notes.We Are Here! Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, which is the featured exhibit in the Contemporary Galleries for the summer. Alan Michelson, Bonnie Devine, Skawennati, Duane Slick, and Anna Tsouhlarakis participated in an artist's panel, followed by a reception and exhibit preview . In the panel the curator highlighted the shift towards using new media, particularly in the work of Skawennati and Anna Tsouhlarakis. Skawennati feels that the Indigenous need to be present in cyberspace, and Tsouhlarakis is attracted to the medium because of its lack of definition and ephemeral nature.
June 5, 2012
The first thing I did on this trip was attempt to use the Infinity of Nations app. I turned in my license in exchange for an iPod and headphones, and returned to the main gallery. This is probably the 5th or 6th time that I have been in this exhibit, so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the app was so engaging. If anything, I was dissappointed that it only highlighted some of the items in the displays. I am always interested in textiles, being a quilter, so I would like to see an app where every item is clickable for more information.
Then I attended the beading "demonstration" in the Education Center, where my friend from college - who is a NMAI museum educator and facilitates the school trips - had agreed to an interview. This is the information I gleaned:
- 4th grade is the main age group that visits
- the educators do not currently engage school groups with IT during trips
- they consult with teachers before the visit, and most are interested in the students engaging with items re: the Woodlands NYS/NYC geographic region
- few teachers visit the site before visiting
- the educators would love to have iPads (with crossbody straps) and smartboards, and be able to teach from the iPad during interactions
- there is an in-house IT department
- the museum holds "all-hands" staff meetings with everyone from DC and NY via webcast once a month (forgot to ask if Maryland facility is online for this too!)
- most visitors have little prior knowledge of Native history/culture, educators then stress the diversity within Indian country
- some visitors have a negative stereotype, the educators then stress that Native Americans are not extinct or counter negative portrayals with positive ones
- many visitor questions are general, educators then ask theme to frame their query in terms of time period, geographic location, or tribal group; conversations with visitors can lead to educators referring them to the librarian upstairs
- sometimes there are VIP tours (a student group from a tribal school would be considered VIP), and educators then stress diversity (such as South American and Canadian tribes), discuss urban Indian culture, and answer questions about NYC
- the NMAI's exhibits travel to tribal museums
Finally, I visited the Haudenosaunee Discovery Room. This is a 10'x10' room with displays about Lacrosse, Mohawk Ironworkers, Cornhusk dolls, wampum, and the Great Peace (basis for American democracy), among other things. I was particularly taken by the Lacrosse jersey hanging from the ceiling and immediately realized Lacrosse, or Woodland Native sports, would be the perfect theme for a virtual/augmented reality exhibit in the future, expanded Haudenosaunee exhibit (planned for the area currently occupied by the Contemporary Art Gallery). I know what IT idea I will propose for my final paper - virtual Lacrosse! There is a small 12'x8' sspace in the gallery they are using that will be perfect to contain it.