This year’s curatorial seminar class is taking an innovative approach to learning by utilizing skills such as collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking and applying them to a digitally curated exhibition using Historypin. The seminar is run by professor of Art History, Linda Aleci and is titled, Curating the City. Students researched themes such as breweries, cemeteries, brothels, and architectural ornaments. Working closely with the Lancaster Historical Society, the class dug deep into Lancaster’s history to recover stories that might have once been lost or forgotten. They will be sharing these stories on Historypin, a website that enables users to upload historical photographs in addition to audio and video content. The site allows other users to add to a story, allowing for collaboration and participation. Select members of the Phillips Museum staff were asked to consult on the class to help with technology issues as well as provide a supportive role as museum educators.
From the beginning, the class worked as a team to define what Lancaster means to them, and to the community in an attempt to create a conversation around these historical sites. Participating in a peer based learning activity, students were forced to think critically about how they would convey these images to their audience. They assumed a shared responsibility for collaborative work while articulating thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written, and nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts. Taking a multimedia approach to learning, the students were introduced to new technologies where they were challenged to determine how to effectively communicate the content as it applied to their individual themes.
The skills mentioned are commonly referred to as the skills of the 21st century and are becoming increasingly essential to the way students are learning in the classroom today.
Research from the Institute for Museums and Library Services on 21st century skills state that museums can harness these skills as they have long been a place for education and learning. Museums are sources of knowledge with the ability to create powerful experiences. As an institution we can evolve to meet the learning needs of our younger audience by combining the skills of the 21st century and new media in order to better prepare them for their futures in an increasingly technological society.
There are nearly 197,000 photos, videos, and audio clips uploaded from around the world to Historypin’s website. Prior to the start of the class, Lancaster City was nearly deficient of any content on the site and with the completion of the class project by the end of the fall semester, 50 or more pins will be created on Historypin for Lancaster providing an opportunity for sharing and exploration that did not exist before. There is anticipation that the community will continue to add to the map over time encouraging the exploration of the rich history that Lancaster has to offer.
If you have an iPhone, download the app for free and begin exploring or participating in the project by uploading a modern replica of a photo and sharing your story.