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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: Museums are interesting places. They are conservative by nature. But if you look at an institution that has been around for a hundred or a hundred and fifty years, or even longer, there is a reason to have some kind of sense of slow inertia in that sort of stuff. But at the same time, there is a level of mid-level museum professionals that are now filtering up through the ranks that are relatively progressive, that in their own ways are pushing their individual institutions, and constantly evangelizing where things ought to be, rather than where they have been.
And the case isn't always necessarily 'do things differently,' but rather, 'let's try something that's different and then validate it.' If it doesn't work then, yes - by all means, we will do what we know how to do very, very well, and continue to do that. Museums are very good at servicing a core audience. They get that in spades. It's really, how do you grow that audience, and how do you begin to engage with it differently? So probably most importantly, and this is certainly true for Second Story, is that where traditionally you would have seen maybe kiosks in a museum, you would have had these kind of constrained glass panels where all the magical stuff was behind this, and you had to figure out what the interface was, is that that increasingly, you look at the digital presence of that content.
That stuff can certainly not exist just in this constrained space anymore, but rather it can happen anywhere around you. These surfaces can be things you interact with. Your presence in the space begins to make something happen that part of that extends to an online experience, and that rather is a digital presence of the institution, that's the much more important thing for the visitor. I think that's an increasingly complex layer that museums are struggling with, certainly as with the rise of social media, you begin to see how museums try and relate to their visitors, how they try and engage with them, to make sure that things that happen on a social level, or an online level, begin to interact and stuff in the galleries, and so forth.
So it's an increasingly complex narrative, but it's also a very interesting narrative.
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