Film Premiere for Making Ties: The Cangdong Village Project

On May 30, the Stanford Archaeology Center will host the live premiere of Barre Fong’s Making Ties: The Cangdong Village Project.

If you cannot attend the premiere, the film can be viewed at

Augmented Reality in Museums

You may remember the release and subsequent popularity of the Pokemon Go up that sparked a widespread interest in the use of augmented reality (AR) to enhance the user experience. One place that Augmented reality is really taking off is in museum exhibits, not just in the United States but throughout the world. This increase in use comes as no surprise considering that AR’s features have the ability to both educate and entertain the visitor.

What Is Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality, oftentimes referred to as just AR, is the real-time integration of superimposed, computer-generated graphics into the user’s current environment. As with the Pokemon Go app, users can find and capture various Pokemon as if they were right next to them.

How Augmented Reality Is Being Used

The AR technology is just now entering the museum space, but there are many well-known museums that already are putting this technology to good use.

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Bone Hall at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History was a crowd-pleaser for years, but thanks to augmented reality the complimentary Skin and Bones app allows visitors to see these bones like never before. AR technology enables visitors to add skin and movement to the bones on display. Visitors can watch a vampire bat fly away and see an extinct sea cow come to life, among other fascinating features.

National Museum of Singapore

The National Museum of Singapore’s Story of the Forest augmented reality display is a sight to behold. Visitors get an up-close view of a wide variety of plants and animals. The corresponding museum app works much like the Pokemon Go app. Instead of catching various Pokemon, however, visitors are encouraged to collect all the plants and animals they see along the path. Once captured on their mobile app, visitors can gain more information about each item caught.

National History Museum of Los Angeles

At the 2016 Dino Fest, the National History Museum of Los Angeles unveiled its BroadcastAR system, which literally gave visitors the opportunity to feel what it was like to stand right next to a T-Rex and several other dinosaur species.

While the integration of augmented reality has only recently made its way into museum exhibits, the trend is expected to grow in popularity. The use of augmented reality allows museums to put the fun back into learning and both kids and adults are loving it.

I’m curious about what other Augmented Reality Museum experiences you have had. Tell me about it in the comments!

Marketing History with Social Media

The Charleston Museum was the first museum in the U.S., opening in 1824. Since the 19th Century, museums have advanced in archival, storage and exhibition techniques. Yet the experience many museums offer to visitors is still severely outdated, especially in an age of ever-expanding digital technology.

How Visitors Experience Museums

The museum experience is extremely important to visitors. When visitors walk away from a museum, that experience will shape their opinion of every other museum. If a visitor leaves a museum feeling uninspired and “bored” by the experience, he or she is unlikely to want to visit another museum anytime soon.

In a world of digital technology, our society is now used to a guided journey of storytelling. Gone are the days when we feel compelled to suffer through an arduous experience in the names of art or history. Thirty-seven percent of art museum visitors don’t even consider their visit as a “cultural experience” according to Artsy.

The Problem with Museums

As travel is becoming less expensive and more accessible, museums are experiencing overcrowding–especially in front of certain works of art. Just try to visit the “Mona Lisa” in the Louvre in Paris.

When you’re fighting with a crowd of over 100 people to get a glimpse of the art, you’re not experiencing the art in real life at all. In fact, you have a better chance of getting a photo of the “Mona Lisa” on your smartphone than you do getting up close and personal with it.

The other problem with museums is that there are thousands of them all over the world. It’s virtually impossible to visit all these institutions.

Travel may be cheaper and more accessible for most visitors, but that hasn’t been the case for all potential visitors. Troubles such as economic hardship can prevent some from visiting at all. Mobility can, at the very least, make accessing certain exhibits difficult–or for some, impossible.

The Importance of Online Presence

Museums, archeologists and other heritage professionals can improve their online presence to make their information more accessible to those who cannot visit. They can also use technology and social media to enhance their exhibits, making history come to life and helping to engage visitors on a more meaningful level.

Art museums, such as the Louvre, the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have created online galleries for those who cannot visit exhibits in person. Scholastic offers an interactive virtual field trip of Ellis Island. Not only does the virtual field trip offer a similar experience to a visit to Ellis Island, but the information on Scholastic’s site is delivered much more palatably than it is in the museum.

Visitors could spend an entire day at Ellis Island and walk away unable to remember half of the information because the museum is so overwhelming.

The Digital Era: Technological Advances in Museum Studies

Digital technologies have not only changed how visitors experience history, but they have also changed the way historians, archeologists and museum professionals conduct research.

Archeologists can now use digital imaging software to create a clear picture of what animals and entire towns may have looked like hundreds–or even thousands–of years ago. Optical technology can offer professionals more accurate dating than carbon dating. X-rays have been allowing archaeologists to see below the earth’s surface for nearly a decade, saving time, money and resources.

The implementation of technology-aided exhibits, online user experience, and digital research techniques is taking over the museum and archaeology industries at a rapid rate. How has technology recently enhanced your institution or your museum experiences?

Center for Digital Archaeology Training Tips Blog Series

While I was interning for the Center for Digital Archaeology (CoDA), I wrote a series of short blogs based on a few of their webinar classes. This was a fun learning experience for me, because some of these topics were things I knew nothing about. It is always humbling to me how a little bit of knowledge can spark brand new hobbies and interests.

Browse through the links below to read my posts on the CoDA blog!

Photography and Photogrammetry for Archaeologists

Introduction to GIS for Archaeology

The Art of Narrative in Your Workflow

Lighting for Photogrammetry

Always Have A Backup Plan (A blog about Data Backup)

Choosing Your First Drone

Stop a Moving Lens with Tape (a photography equipment hack Featuring my favorite tool, blue painters tape..)

Placing Coded Targets for Photogrammetry in the Field

Questions for Clear Communication in your Project


To find out more about the Center for Digital Archaeology, you can visit

HSU Unconference: How I Learned Shareout Building a Better Search by Going into Categories and Searching by Subject

From the Humboldt State University Library: “Nikki Martensen explains how to build a better search by going in to Categories and then searching by subject. By searching by subject, you’ll be exposed to related words that will enrich your search.”

Delivering HSU History to the Silicon Valley

This is a press-release detailing some archival adventures that happened over spring break with the Humboldt State University Library Scholar Program.

Published in spring 2016