Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

Category: Museum Topics (page 1 of 27)

Week 10 – Working out from home?

A few months into quarantine, there was a long waited realization that the Pandemic was not going to be over any time soon. Many people started getting back into some kind of routine, especially in regards of physical exercise. Many people started utilizing their neighborhood parks, Youtube workout-videos or created/purchased  in house exercise settings. In the course of past 2 months, numerous gyms, workout studios and other physical training facilities reopened slowly with limited capacity due to which people are will working out at home.

Have you also been working out from home too? Share your home workout tools/instruments/set ups with the world! It could be anything from just a space where you do body weight exercise, a yoga mat, dumbbells, bench, indoor cycling stand or running shoes. Basically whatever you use to move and get the benefits of physical activity that your body needs. – This prompt was suggested by Kumail Zaidi

Send a picture (or 2) of your home workout setting to sayyara.huseynli@tufts.edu. Include your name and location. 

Week 9 – University student desk inspirations

I would like to present a cool list of learning/study spaces shared by college students who are continuing their studies in the US and Japan. What are the similarities and differences of your study/work space to the ones in this post?  What can you not study/work without? 🙂

Ami YoshidaObihiro, Japan

 

Aleksandar Sarić – It is not artistic at all, but that’s what it looks like. A lot of notebooks and papers, nice view with trees and nature. Jumbo elephant – I find it to be great motivation.

Location: Medford, Massachusetts

Kumail Zaidi – I have been working from home entirely since March. My advisor let me bring home my computer from the office to help with my research work. Besides, I already had a work desk at home where I used to work sometimes. It has become my primary desk now. All my meetings with my advisor etc. are on zoom. Moreover, I have been doing all the teaching over zoom as well.

Location: Medford, Massachusetts

Note: The life of a university student truly consists on balancing numerous aspects of life: studies, work (for some), social life and personal care. As a graduate student myself, I particularly struggle to allocate time to participate at online social events, mainly because they feel like an extension of my school or work life. For this reason, I really appreciate all of the participant who has ever submitted replies to My Home is a Museum project. Your contributions are much appreciated!

 

Week 9 – Learning space

In accordance to health and safety guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19, most higher education institutions in the US made the transition to virtual education, at least till the end of the Fall semester. For many students, this transition has called for certain changes/adaptations to be made in their living environments/homes to become more suitable as learning spaces.  

How have you adapted your living environment to meet your learning needs? What does your learning space look like? What kind of special tools/items you have that support your learning? 

Use these prompts to describe your study spaces. Please also include your name and location and don’t forget to include pictures 

Here is an example:

 

Email your pictures and responses to Sayyara.huseynli@tufts.edu 

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/11/half-of-us-elementary-and-high-school-students-will-study-virtually-only-this-fall-study-shows.html 

 

Becoming (friends with) Jane: How Technology Can Create a More Intimate Experience

Last winter break, I was visiting my family in Virginia when my mom suggested we go see Becoming Jane, a traveling exhibition organized by the Jane Goodall Institute at the National Geographic Museum in Washington D.C. She had visited previously with her sister, and knowing my penchant for animals, figured that I would enjoy it. I was familiar with Jane Goodall and her work with chimpanzees, but I was eager to learn the details. What I did not expect was how immersive the exhibit would be and the impression it would leave on me.

Jane Goodall and David Greybeard.

We were first introduced to Jane through a fairly typical beginning-of-gallery-video which gives some brief context about her life and the makeup of the exhibit itself. At the end of the video, however, a chimpanzee swings from a branch and jumps out of the screen, inviting you into the exhibit and into Jane’s life.

After learning about her childhood and path to Tanzania to study chimpanzees with anthropologist, Louis Leakey, we entered a re-creation of her tent. It was just big enough to house her and her mother (who had to accompany her because it was unthinkable to allow a young English woman to travel alone) and outlined their early life in the bush, the set-up of their camp, and fights against malaria. Altogether, the tent put the visitor in Jane’s shoes and offered a peek into her experience. It felt, in a sense, like we had been transported to the Gombe National Park to live with Jane and study the chimps ourselves.

Holographic image of Jane Goodall telling stories to visitors.

On the other side of the tent, we were invited to sit around a camp-fire where a holographic image of Jane was waiting to share stories about the chimpanzees. She reminisced on her first friend in the community, a chimp she affectionately calls David Greybeard, and how she first gained trust with him. By doing so, she created a sense of camaraderie with the audience. I felt much more connected to Jane listening to her holographic avatar than I would have watching TV screen or reading a block of text. It felt personal and helped established even more of a sense of trust towards her and her work.

The crown jewel of the exhibit followed: a virtual reality re-creation of her first close encounter with David Greybeard. We shuffled into a room wearing 3D glasses, surrounded by a virtual jungle. The experience carried us to a clearing where David and another chimpanzee sat grooming each other. Despite some slight double vision and a climate controlled space, the experience was so immersive that it felt like we were actually sitting in the jungle earning their trust. I briefly considered moving to the Gombe to dedicate my life to primatology before remembering that even most suburbs are too rural for me. Regardless, the VR experience helped forge a connection with the chimpanzees that would carry throughout the rest of the exhibit and the weeks following.

VR experience with David Greybeard.

The next room had many interactive stations, like augmented reality binoculars to learn more about their observed behavior and tool use. There was a communication station where visitors could practice pant-hooting with the chimpanzees, something I was too embarrassed to try. Through a mixture of interactives, objects, and good ol’ fashioned text, the gallery highlighted the lives of chimps and interrogated our understandings of the concept of humanity. The exhibit ends by discussing the threats to chimps and a call to action for visitors to small changes to their lifestyles that can positively impact the environment.

Before Becoming Jane, I was an animal lover. I appreciated chimpanzees, but took no particular interest in them. Throughout the course of the exhibit, my fascination grew so much that I bought one of her books in the gift shop to learn more. I felt a connection with Jane, like she was an old family friend telling me stories. It can be difficult to create bonds between visitors and subjects, but Becoming Jane used immersive technology to tell engaging stories more successfully than I have ever seen.

A date with Mrs. Isabella Steward Gardner

I decided to visit Isabella Steward Gardner Museum, as soon as I found out about its reopening.
The museum announced reopening on July 15th after nearly four months of the closure due to Covid-19. I missed going to the museums so much, that neither the long commute nor the rainy weather was able to stop me on the day of my intended visit 

New guidelines have been put in place to ensure the health and safety of the staff and the visitors. The museum visitors were required to prepare for the visit way before arriving to the sight firstly by reserving admission tickets online for a given time slot. A contactless scanning of the digital tickets took place at the admission desk which was shielded with a transparent plexiglas. All members of the staff and visitors were wearing facial covering. Arrow marks on the floors and stairs made socially distanced movement in the spaces much easier. The visitor capacity of the ISG was reduced to 25%. Overall, the museum felt safe and protected.

The visit to Isabella Steward Gardner even in this time of Covid-19, was extremely delightful. There were a few aspects of the visits which made the experience so unique. The first reason of a pleasant experience was that the museum was well prepared to receive visitors in terms of ensuring everyone’s safety.

As a result of the reduced visitor capacity, there was a prevailing atmosphere of peace and calmness, which is the second aspect which made this visit particularly memorable. Instead of feeling like a regular visitor much like how I felt being in these spaces during my previous visits, this time I felt like a special guest of Mrs. Gardner. The quietness around me allowed to free flight my imagination and ability to hear my internal dialogue. I pretended to be walking around the palace alongside the hostess. We talked about the artworks, debated about their meanings and even made fun of some. There was no rush, no distraction by other people or side sounds. I was so deeply engaged in my own world that I didn’t even notice the few other visitors who occasionally passed by me. 

The experience of being in nearly empty gallery spaces of ISG was so immersive that I didn’t notice how two hours have passed by and I had to head out. As I was walking back to exit the museum, I wondered about the experience of other visitors during in these strange circumstances. I stopped to question of the guides to find some answers. The guide was nice and answered my questions enthusiastically. They said that most people described their experience with such words like personal and intimate. I thought those words accurately described my experience as well. Further, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to compare pre and post pandemic visitor experiences in the museum. How did the visitor experiences change pre and post pandemic, if they did at all? What were the visitor motivations to visit the museum in the time when public spaces provoke anxiety? 

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