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Above a bakery in Portland, Oregon, a unique group of storytellers are quietly changing museum and exhibit experiences all over the world. In this Creative Inspirations documentary, we meet Second Story, creators of award-winning interactive projects for clients that include the Getty Museum, National Geographic, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Smithsonian Institution, just to name but a few.
Founders Julie Beeler and Brad Johnson introduce us to their uniquely talented studio where their signature interactive design is conceived and produced. Second Story creates immersive adventures that educate and entertain through compelling visuals, touch and play, and inspiring participation through curiosity.
We follow the team as they reveal one of their latest triumphs, the Age of Mammals exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, designed to both please the doctorates and the first graders who participate in their finished project.
(Music playing.) Bruce Wyman: The reality is that museums are competing with the rest of world for people's finite attention, right? You can choose to go to see a movie at the end of the day, or you can go see this exhibit at some museum. So museums have to work a little bit to try and make those experiences magical, engaging, attractive, and a compelling counterpart to those things. That just appealing the people's nature of being inspired by a museum isn't as strong as it used to be, and so you've seen a trend towards thinking of a much broader experience, and what that can be, and what that can entail.
Brad Johnson: One of the main reasons a lot of clients hire us is to create a kind of an experience that their viewership, or their audience, or their visitors, the people that come to their web sites, have a memorable personal connection with the content that they're serving, to address different learning styles, to address different attention levels, to address different interest levels. Sometimes we're creating pieces in a museum where you have to accommodate both kids that have very limited attention spans to people that are experts in the subject matter.
So we have to come up with a scheme that will accommodate that broad range of potential visitors. I think that's one of the most exciting things about it, that it's not just one presentation, but it's lots of different potential presentations based on unique interests. David Waingarten: I think if it were just technical expertise, I don't know that we would be able to have the same type of emotional connection, you know, something that's emotional that catches you and that makes you interested in the content that we're working with, and also has this beautiful, elegant, technical aspect that hopefully, if we do it right, is transparent.
You're not sitting there thinking, "Wow! This is really technically amazing!" That should all be completely transparent. You should be just interacting with the stuff that we're creating in a level that's visceral. Julie Beeler: We're storytellers, but I don't really feel, in that traditional sense, that I'm really a storyteller. What I think of is that I take those stories and that information and I put them together in meaningful ways. The visitors can then interact with those stories and those components to weave together their own story, and that's really, to us, what interactivity is all about is that the visitor is creating a second story. That's what we love doing, and that's what we hope we continue to have opportunities to do, and we've had the luxury of having some pretty amazing stories to work with, so...
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