Bravo! Hats Off to Innovative Technology!

Congratulations to the 2010 winners of the 21st annual MUSE Awards! We all know that without a collection or traveling exhibits, a museum would not exist. Period. But how long can that museum, despite an amazing collection, exist without connecting to the public in new and exciting ways? It is impossible. Especially in this ever-changing digital age, museums have to get creative! (Slightly ironic, since they are housing creativity to begin with...)

Which is why, every year, the American Association of Museums’ Media & Technology Committee celebrates innovation and creativity of digital media in the museum sector with the prestigious MUSE Awards.

Over 200 entries from museums around the world were reviewed by an international jury of museum professionals and media experts, and the results were presented at the AAM annual conference in Los Angeles.

For full descriptions of all the winners, click the category! But in the meantime, check out some highlights and favorites.

Audio and Visual Tours

Imagining Lincoln and Juarez; Chicago History Museum and Ed Herrman

The Chicago History Museum has developed pre-programmed iPods and accompanying worksheets, to immerse students in the exhibition with sounds that created the mood and engage them with the collection.


O Say Can You Sing? National Anthem Singing Contest; National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution and Night Kitchen

The National Museum of American History held a singing contest to engage the American people with the story of the flag and national anthem.  Over 800 eligible entries were submitted via YouTube, and thousands of people rated and commented on their favorites.  The winner was invited to perform at both the museum and the Baltimore Orioles game on June 14, 2009 (Flag Day)!


t.a.g. Open Museum

The Association Game (t.a.g.) is a non-verbal educational game for grownups where an image is chosen at random from the Open Museum collection, participants respond with an image that is somehow associated with or reminiscent of the original image, everyone votes on what they think is the best successor, and then the winning image becomes a starting point for the next round. There are three rounds a week with an average of 15 images submitted for each round. **One of my personal favorites because anyone can sign up for free and play the game now!**

Interactive Kiosks

UMMA's DialogTable; University of Michigan Museum of Art and Kinecity & Night Kitchen Interactive

The UMMA DialogTable is a dynamic new interactive storytelling and social learning tool located in the Vertical Gallery of the University of Michigan Museum of Art's new Maxine and Stuart Frankel and the Frankel Family Wing. The DialogTable engages audiences with art and ideas, prompting new conversations and creative connections. Since the Table is located in the extended-hours zone of the Museum, visitors can engage with the collection even after the galleries are closed!

Interpretive Interactive Installations

Worldwide Animal Viewers; Museum Victoria and Megafun Pty Ltd

Melbourne Museum in Victoria, Australia recently opened a new biodiversity exhibition, “Wild: amazing animals in a changing world,” which has 770 mammal and bird mounts from all over the globe. Designed for a broad audience, the interactive interpretive device needed to be developed for all types of guests to use.  Museum Victoria worked with Megafun Pty Ltd to create the PANORAMIC NAVIGATORS, in this case referred to as "Worldwide Animal Viewers," a surprisingly easy and fun system which accesses additional information about every specimen in the exhibit.

Multimedia Installations

Beyond All Boundaries; National World War II Museum and The Hettema Group

Beyond All Boundaries, the signature 4-D cinematic experience at The National World War II Museum was designed to attract both new and existing audiences to the Museum, and to bring World War II to life in an entirely new way.  The words and stories of actual WWII participants are brought to life by many of today's leading actors, and viewers experience the war in first person through state-of-the-art special effects where they feel the vibrations of B-17 bombers and see snow falling inside the theater during the Battle of the Bulge.

Online Presence

We Choose the Moon; John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum and Domani Studios & The Martin Agency

We Choose the Moon is an amazingly integrated website which recreates Apollo 11's lunar mission, minute by minute, with an interactive experience that let visitors experience the mission as it happened, using archival audio, video, photos and "real-time" transmissions on the site and via Twitter.


Audio on demand program; National Museum of Australia and Icelab Pty Ltd

The National Museum of Australia's Audio on Demand program is an evolving collection of recordings of lectures, forums and symposiums held at the Museum's building in Canberra.  There is a wide range of topics relating to social history, and especially the Indigenous peoples of Australia since the museum has such a strong collection.

Public Relations and Development

Raising Spirits; Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and The Arts Lounge

Raising Spirits is a comprehensive public relations package designed to promote a traveling, multimedia art history presentation showcasing the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco's permanent collection. The package takes the world-renowned collection "on the road" via a plasma screen into private dining rooms of our patrons, while host Kirsten Shilakes tells tightly woven stories about art, food and wine, taking guests on a multi-sensory aesthetic and culinary journey.

Teaching and Outreach

Teaching and Outreach Videos; Art Institute of Chicago and Angle Park, Inc.

Collectively directed towards educators, parents, and caregivers, the Art Institute of Chicago's teaching and outreach videos demonstrate meaningful and effective strategies to engage young audiences on their visit to the art museum. Dynamically accessible in the museum and online with both English and Spanish subtitles, this group of videos created by the Art Institute of Chicago and film company Angle Park, Inc., helps teacher-student and parent-child audiences make the most of their museum visit.


Buck Ramsey's Grass: Anthem; Nevada Museum of Art and FLF Films Inc & UeBersee Inc.

The Nevada Museum of Art has created a moving piece which effectively transports the viewer into a land where the enduring tradition of cowboy poetry is a rich and vital form of cultural expression in the American West. This film was created and produced for the 2009 exhibition Between Grass & Sky: Rhythms of a Cowboy Poem, and is inspired by the Texas poet Buck Ramsey widely-celebrated poem Grass.

Honeysett & Din Student Award (new this year!)

Concept Design: Touch the Unreachable—Looking for Finnish identity; Virva Emilia Auvinen, Aalto University School of Art & Design-MediaLab Helsinki, Finland

"Touch the Unreachable" is a concept design on how to use interactive storytelling techniques, video, 3D animation and graphic visualization for art education purposes. The "Touch the Unreachable" concept is an application designed for a museum environment and aims to promote knowledge of Finnish cultural heritage.


What are your favorites? How can these remarkable projects help you and your organization integrate more technology in innovative ways? We would love to hear what YOU are doing!