A Look Back: Museum Computer Network Conference 2017

This past week, the Museum Computer Network (MCN) Conference took place in Pittsburgh, PA. MCN is a conference that explores topics relevant to museum practitioners who work with, or are affected by digital media and technology. AMT Lab had the opportunity to be a sponsor of this event and sent several of our contributors to the conference over the 4 day span. Below are our takeaways from the conference.



 The conference featured panels covering an assortment of interesting topics. Our contributors wrote about some of the sessions they enjoyed the most.

 Musetech - This conference session took the structure of an unconference with attendees curating the six topics using dots on a collection of possible tracks culled from a preliminary survey distributed in preparation of the panel.  The goal was to determine what the group felt was most relevant and important to discuss.  The winners were: Data Management, Using Agile as a Management Tool, Communicating to Audiences, Critical Thinking in the Face of Constant Change, Digital Advocacy for Everyone or Everybody Tech, and Outcome and User-Focused Development. The infographic below summarizes the session. 

MCN Takeaways MUSETECH.png

Session: MUSETECH: An Ideal Syllabus: Presentors / Conveners: Greg Albers, Digital Publications Manager, J. Paul Getty Trust  & Kathryn Cody,Manager of IT Educational Technologies, J. Paul Getty Trust

Resource links: HBR, IDEO, Future of Museums, Stanford D School

Dynamic Pricing – The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis presented facts and figures regarding reported increases in attendance and revenue as a result of the introduction of a dynamic pricing model. Reactions to this new model are mixed and generated a spectrum of reactions from patrons, both good and bad. The museum utilizes pricing software from Digonex, an industry leader in this space. This software model is compatible with a number of current CRM systems and applies algorithms to generate prices on a daily basis. The findings of this session were:

  • Dynamic pricing requires a significant demand for the product or service. 
  • It is necessary for the prices to fluctuate so that organizations know the reservation price of their audience and how they value the experience. 
  • Technology developments regarding dynamic pricing are only considering the behavior of the client, excluding the feedback information about how the client feels after paying more or less. 
  • If information about the dynamic pricing is only available online, the organization might be excluding people that don't plan ahead using the web.
  • Museums should consider the collection of data regarding dynamic pricing being inclusive or exclusive to specific income levels. 

Becoming Digital Age Storytellers: Questions and Strategies

This panel featured a number of speakers spanning many organizations, each with unique and specific strategies and systems for overcoming the digital divide and creating new and informative experiences. Listed below are just a few of the professionals and their findings:

Chelsea Bracci, Education Associate for Digital Media and Programs, The Lower East Side Tenement Museum: Digital as a Tool to Enhance and Elevate Story.

Goal: Elevate the audience to the role of storyteller by creating a content platform for sharing stories of immigration and migration.

Challenge: How do you scaffold the experience so users are set up for success. How do organizations ensure that these stories are given appropriate consideration?

Tools: The Digital Age Storytelling Toolkit


Silvina Fernandez-Duque, Product Manager, US Holocaust Memorial Museum: Through a partnership with Parson’s School of Design, her organization was tasked to think tank game designs that would appeal to school age children. Out of six prototypes, they selected JOIND, a choose your own adventure texting game wherein the user plays the character Paul as he discovers the hardships of his Jewish friend during the Holocaust. The goal is to contemporize an experience and enable young audiences to better understand these historical moments.

Challenges: Designing a game while maintaining logic and order through the visitor experience

Goal: Present individual stories that can serve as a representation of millions of lives and experiences through the Holocaust, while maintaining historical accuracy.

Tools: Observational documentaries as a model for story structure

Kristin Bayans, Manager of Interpretive Media, Portland Art Museum: A local/regional project, Object Stories. This project consists of 4 exhibitions each year, each featuring 5-6 stories. This is a place for communities to address issues affecting their lives. The goal is to deepen audience's relationship with the museum through conversation and sharing stories. 

Challenges: Pushing organizational change to adapt to the needs of this project. Discovering new platforms to extend the featured stories beyond the physical gallery. 

Goal: Consider an organization’s responsibility toward the people they are representing. How do organizations help people represent themselves in stories? The goal is for the project to be community driven, so as to be presented in their voice. They hold community roundtables before each exhibit, and throughout the planning process, and host storytelling workshops.

Tools:  Podcast, How Sound, a bi-weekly podcast about storytelling

Abigail Newkirk, Director of Interpretation & Education, Stratford Hall. Building a Mobile Tour and Developing Stories of Enslavement at Stratford Hall, to present an alternative to the predominantly white historical recounts common in the field and at Stratford Hall to date. 

Challenges: Lack of data and historical records of enslavement at Stratford. The facts and frameworks of this project were sourced from many individual places.

Goals: Consider you organization’s thoughts on your responsibility toward the people you are representing? Organizations must be aware of how stories can be weaponized and used to fit within a given agenda. Be aware of biases behind the documentation process.

Tools: Pocast, Its Been a Minute

Did you attend this year's MCN conference? Tell us your about your favorite panels and discussions in the comments below.