Another lovely Spring day - and today we got to visit Brooklyn Museum.
A few weeks before coming to America, I attended Webstock in Wellington. Among the many wonderful speakers was Shelley Bernstein the Chief of Technology at the Museum. She talked about how they blended online tools with their museum experience - including allowing photography in the museum.
I mean: who does that? most museums say you can't even answer your cell phone let alone take a photo of a piece of art or artifact. Visiting this place instantly became a priority - I wanted to experience the museum with my iPhone and camera.
Getting to the museum ended up taking a lot longer than anticipated. We had the use of a friend's car, so opted for that rather than the Subway. Unfortunately for us, a St Patrick's Irish Day parade had decided that Sunday was a good one for closing off all the streets around Park Slope and therefore, diverted the usual route to the museum. We eventually ended up in a traffic snarl-up at Grand Army Plaza which meant we spent 45 minutes trying to move as many meters.
photo by arthur ohm
Eventually we arrived at the museum, having parked the car and walked through the top end of Prospect Park. First real impression of the digital layer of the museum was the wi-fi was actually strong - it was the real thing - I wasn't piggy-backing on an open unsecured connection - this place is wired for good access.
Each room has a small notice explaining how to log into the wi-fi, ideas about how to access digital information and giving a room code. This, along with some instructions, opened up a world of information via my iPhone. I could see a gallery of important or significant objects in the room, or I could access a gallery of all the objects in the room. You might wonder why I would want to just look _at_ the objects in the room - the information via the gallery and other visitors comments adds another layer of information over the things I was seeing. I could 'favourite' any object I liked and it would be added to what others think. I could also take a photo of objects I liked and upload them to Flickr.
Besides this kind of interaction, I could also use Four Square and log in - and if I'm the Mayor on the first (or last, I can't remember now) Saturday of the month, I get a free membership to the museum. They also have Twitter accounts, blogs, and all manner of socially and digitally networked ways to keep and stay in touch with the museum. These all point to physical meet-ups and help build and maintain the community that surrounds and supports the museum and encourages visitors as curators by allowing these digital touch-points and interweavings.
Oh and the other great thing is, apart from the objects behind glass, you can touch stuff in this museum. It's about the people, you see - and it really is a human space.
photo by meg zimbeck
After the museum, it was time to find somewhere to eat. Walking around Park Slope, showed me the vision of New York I've always seen television sitcoms. Rows of beautiful brownstone homes on tree-lined streets - steps leading up to beautiful double-doored residences that looked as if I'd need a hefty income to own.
It really is a beautiful, romantic part of New York. I really have got around this town - from Red Hook to Harlem, from Park Slope to Chelsea, from Queens to Park Avenue - and all the neighbourhoods change and are quite different.
A lovely day which ended with a meal of lamb from a Middle Eastern restaurant and a stroll back to the car and home to Red Hook.