COVID-19 Peer Responses: The Mississippi Museum of Art
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McKenzie Drake, Assistant Curator of Public Programs and Community Engagement, Mississippi Museum of Art
We touched base with Mckenzie to see how she launched successful online learning through the museum’s mobile guide in response to her museum’s closure.
STATUS BEFORE THE CRISIS
In 2018-2019, The museum launched exhibition-focused teacher resources on their mobile guide (winner of SEMC’s 2019 Digital Education Award!). This dedicated digital material is available for the public and has content curated for educators to access in their classroom, or at home.
Following MMA’s mission of “connecting Mississippi to the world, and the power of art to the power of community,” the education team’s comprehensive educator toolkit gives teachers access to art, research, and activity guides.
These resources allow teachers to preview work in our permanent collection and temporary exhibitions, and learn tactics to lead a conversation around a work of art. Originally designed to prepare teachers for their school group tours, this free resource is now used by teachers and families alike, helping them feel comfortable engaging with artwork inside the Museum, the classroom, or in their own home.
“It’s difficult to offer all of the resources to all audiences and age groups at once. Our education team quickly learned that we needed to understand a target audience for our digital tools to be successful.”
ADAPTING TO THE CRISIS
Building on the success of the Mississippi Museum of Art’s App, the education team has quickly made updates on the CultureConnect platform and shared information about how to access the App during the COVID-19 outbreak (via the web as well as the App Store and Google Play). With this resource, our audience is able to observe works of art accompanied by audio and supplemental activities all in one place, creating a unique ‘visitor experience at home’.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW
McKenzie’s tips and tricks for other museums interested in building online education:
- Work with what you have. Think about what your museum already has built, or has easy access to (images, audio recordings, research, lesson plans, activities). This is extremely helpful if you’re in a pinch to go digital.
- Don’t be afraid of technology. Embrace it! Building your digital vocabulary as a museum professional will be a tool that will last a lifetime.
- Pick a starting place. It’s difficult to offer all of the resources to all audiences and age groups at once. Our education team quickly learned that we needed to understand a target audience for our digital tools to be successful. With great connections to city and state educators, we narrowed our scope of content and changed the way we advertised. This change allowed us to think more creatively and not feel overwhelmed!
- Ask for help. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know” and find another museum or cultural institution that can give advice. In this time of COVID-19, there are many webinars and resources online that can help you think quickly and creatively about going digital.
EXPLORE THE COVID-19 RESOURCE CENTER
Want to connect with McKenzie? Reach out to email@example.com and we will connect you. Please feel free to share your own experiences with the CultureConnect team to help your museum peers.
Learn more about the museum’s mobile guide, interpretation, and engagement strategy here in the Mississippi Museum of Art’s Case Study.
Not a CultureConnect customer, but want to spin up digital experiences quickly in response to COVID-19 cancellations and closures? Check out our special offer for museums & libraries here.