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Augmented Reality is Enhancing Museum Exhibits Across the Globe

The release and subsequent popularity of the Pokemon Go up has sparked a keen 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 has been 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.

SUE the T-Rex Is Taking a Bite Out of Twitter

When Jurassic Park first hit theaters way back in the summer of 1993, the world shouted with a single voice, “The T-rex is still the king of all beasts!”

It was just four years later, in the fall of 1997, that the Field Museum in Chicago paid $8.4 million to bring home SUE, the most complete and magnificent T-rex skeleton still in existence.

Over the years since, SUE has been intimidating toddlers and fascinating pre-historic beast lovers from the lobby of the Field’s main hall, becoming one of the biggest draws on the entire museum campus. Meanwhile, the 3D-modeled avatar of SUE has chilled IMAX movie viewers with her savage beauty.

Now, SUE is finding a new home in more ways than one. First of all, SUE’s profile stomped onto Twitter, where the @SUEtheTrex account is now making paleontology fun for a whole new generation of dinosaur fans. The clever and interactive tweets coming from SUE in the first person (first beast?) serve as a prime example of how museums everywhere can build on the excitement of popular exhibits to achieve a more active museum outreach on social media.

One aspect about SUE has changed significantly since the skeleton was first named after SUE Hendrickson, who discovered the bones in South Dakota. Scientific opinion has been divided on how to determine the sex of T-rex skeletons. Because of this, SUE isn’t referred to as “she” anymore, but with the neutral “they” pronoun, e.g. “SUE is a T. rex. They are a majestic murderbird, and Chicago is lucky they grace the city with their presence.”

In the real world, SUE’s bones are getting ready to travel again. SUE is moving upstairs to make room for the titanic skeleton of Patagotitan mayorum, a 122-foot-long ancient monster from Argentina.

SUE will be walking, not skulking anymore, in a private “suite”, The Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet, when their complete skeleton is reassembled in the spring of 2019.

Until then, look for SUE in cyberspace, on IMAX screens across the country and in a nearby Twitter newsfeed. Take a scroll through SUE’s recent tweets about the dismantling experience and imagine what this approach could do for marketing teams at similar museums all over the world.

Can Social Media Improve your Museum’s Outreach?

Recently, the Google’s Arts & Culture App went viral, when people realized they could upload their selfies to be matched to historical paintings. Before this, the app still existed to share great works of art with the masses. Certainly, the sensational nature of the matching feature has increased traffic and usage of the app — and, that makes it an extremely successful example of using social media for academic outreach.

Integrating Social Media into the Museum

To successfully use social media in the Science communication (Scicomm) space, especially when it comes to museums, a different voice and way of thinking are necessary. No longer do we live in a world of outbound information. Today’s social media platforms require robust engagement and relating to users, and that incurs a cost that is frequently burdensome to programs held together by a shoestring. Though initially, it’s challenging to point out the return on investment (ROI) of social media, it fairly soon becomes apparent that, when done correctly, it can generate traffic and enthusiasm. Museums are constantly assessing how visitors engage with exhibits, and understanding how visitors are interacting with a museums website and social media outreach is just as essential.

Let’s take a look at the way a few museum programs are impacting people via social media.
VanGoYourself – Similar to the Google selfie app, VanGoYourself encourages people to take a photo of themselves. But this time, the photo is one that mimics one of Van Gogh’s famous paintings. Ancient culture collides beautifully with the modern world using this app, and it is great for lots of laughs while motivating users to learn more about art.

Society for Historical Archeology (SHA) – Based in Boston, this organization has taken to the web to increase interest in their programs and found great success. SHA’s online presence includes blogs, a website and a number of social media accounts they use to tell people, and show them, what is new and exciting. They’ve learned that different social platforms are best for certain types of sharing; Instagram and Pinterest for great visuals, Facebook to tell a story, Twitter to make a quick announcement or provoke thought. They also realized early on that strong branding is vital, and original content is key especially visual images.

How Active can you Be?

Simply being present on a blog or social media will not work well for outreach. A website can remain stagnant and still be useful and informative, but if you put in the time to create a blog/Facebook/Instagram and then you only post every few months, it can be a waste of your time and actually be destructive to your outreach goals.

For example, social media platforms and are now becoming a primary method of contact for many organizations. When you create a social media account, you are usually creating a new message inbox. Anyone who can view your public profile can send you a message. If you do not have the time to devote to this communication, it can send the message that engaging is not important. Your goal should be to consistently engage with compelling content and communication, and you should know how you will do this before you start creating profiles.

Creating a plan to make your social media platforms work for your academic outreach is key to pulling everything together successfully, and understanding who is being reached is where user experience research and design can be invaluable to your organization.

Returning to the Classics: A Brief Look at My Non-Career as a Classical Archaeologist as a Trip around the Met Museum

Animal Archaeology

For Heritage UX’s blogging carnival on exhibit interactivity and archaeology, I thought it might been fun to highlight artefacts on display at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.


Well, even though I no longer study as a classical archaeologist, there are a few pieces that I spent a lot of my undergrad year studying, both academically and just for fun, as I found them to be incredibly inspiring.

Even now as a zooarchaeologist, I still think of these pieces as inspirations – without them, I’m not even sure if I would have found as much interest in archaeology.

Here’s a selection of my favourites:

Statue of Kaipunesut – this wood statue from Egypt (ca. 2528 BCE) was the subject of my first ever archaeology paper and so the statue’s had a place in my heart ever since. Looking back, I think those cracks in the wood that I…

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What’s in a Programmed Name?-An Experience at the Tech Museum of Innovation

There is nothing on the floor of the case except for a jumble of building blocks, each marked distinctively with an alphabetic symbol. A glinting metallic arm swings around from one side of the case to another, humming and crooning as it’s dainty grip reorganizes the blocks. This one goes here. That one goes there. The arm continues sweeping block letters around until I recognize my own name, the one I told the robot to know.

This interaction occurred at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, CA. I happened to be in the area with a group of Interns from the Humboldt State University Library for a special collections delivery, and this was one of our elected side trips.

This is my favorite interaction because it was simple, but it brought up so many meaningful questions about how humans relate to technology. A flooding of Asimovian relationships becoming reality right before my eyes. It spelled my name because another human programmed it to ask for my name value and display that visually with the blocks. I found myself pondering all of the possible ways I could program this arm beyond the building blocks, now that I realized it could be programmed to fit my identity.

This was not the only interaction I enjoyed. There was also an eerie crowdsourced jumble of museum visitor faces projected onto a wall, and a drawing arm that would scan an image of your face and draw it out with a single line.




It got me pondering on our relationship with heritage as well. It is important to be mindful not only of which heritage is being shared but also how it is being shared.  The ability to have a bit of control of the outcome of this exhibit was empowering, and I remember that feeling more than anything.

Have you ever been to the Tech Museum before? What was your experience like?

(Note: This blog was written as part of my blogging carnival “Engaging with Interactive Exhibits and Interactions” You can still submit a post through January 30, for more details visit the post here!)

Welcome to the ArchaeoArtists Collective!

Hi everyone! I want to share another side project I am working on. This is an online collective space for artistic archaeologists to collaborate and share our work. Please give a follow if you are interested, and fill out the Google Form at I’d love to learn more about your archaeology and your art!

ArchaeoArtists Collective

Greetings, and welcome to the collective!

This collective effort brings together archaeologists who are also passionate about art. Any and all types of art are welcome.

Why a Collective?

I wanted to create an online space that could bring together archaeologists who are actively engaged in artistic endeavors, or who are looking to become more active. There are quite a few of us out there, so why not get together?

The collective is open, and anyone with an interest in archaeology and art is welcome to participate.

Where do we meet?

The collective “meets” online, on this site and our associated social media accounts

When do events happen?

Each month, we will focus on creating art on a collaborative topic or theme. Artists will be invited to submit links to their art to be shared via the collective, but it is not a requirement to participate. How much you want to…

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Celebrating The Women of Archaeology – 2017 Edition — Bones, Stones, and Books

via Celebrating The Women of Archaeology – 2017 Edition — Bones, Stones, and Books

Celebrating The Women of Archaeology – 2017 Edition

Written by: Dani Bradford,Steph Halmhofer, andNikki Martensen

*Authors and contributors listed in alphabetical order

**Featured image from Steph Halmhofer

It all started with a suggestion on Twitter by @ArchyFantasies to start a “Women of archaeology support group”. The support group began on Twitter and then quickly moved to Slack to allow for more people to join, as the response to the group was overwhelmingly positive. Initial conversation quickly turned to the inclusion of femmes in round-up lists (i.e. top 10 archaeological discoveries, best Twitter accounts to follow, etc.), after Dani Bradford mentioned the disproportionately small representation of femmes included within these lists. The lack of femme representation in archaeology is not a new problem (for examples, check out “Women in Archaeology” (Claassen, 1994) and “Excavating Women: A History of Women in European Archaeology” (Diaz-Andreu and Stig Sørensen, 1998)). It’s also not a problem limited to archaeology, as Brian Switek recently wrote of palaeontology for Wired. Today projects like those of @TrowelblazersRaising Horizons and @BeardedLadyProj are working hard to change the stereotypes of femmes within a variety of fields and bring to light their important contributions both historically and today.

Building off this idea of increasing representation, the authors decided to round-up and celebrate the accomplishments of femmes of archaeology in 2017. We didn’t want to do a ranked round-up, we wanted to give everyone the chance to decide for themselves what they wanted to celebrate. We took to social media and asked the femmes of archaeology to share with us what they were proud to have worked on in 2017. From academic articles to blogs, to curating exhibits and opening dialogues on disability and accessibility, the femmes of archaeology were certainly busy through 2017! Join us in celebrating all of these incredible femmes and what they’re proud to have accomplished in the past year!

If you’re a woman in archaeology and would like to join our Slack support group, click here

Also, be sure to check out the 2017 Day of Archaeology contributions, which include many, many wonderful women (a project initially co-founded by @lornarichardson)

Name Type of Accomplishment Accomplishment & Link (when possible)
Sarah Ashbridge Project member (Operation Nightingale) Exercise: Joan of Arc and Exercise: Magwich
Kelli Barnes Journal Article Compound-Specific Amino Acid δ 15 N Values in Archaeological Shell: Assessing Diagenetic Integrity and Potential for Isotopic Baseline Reconstruction
April Beisaw Book Chapter Chapter 6, “Ruined by the Thirst for Urban Prosperity: Contemporary Archaeology of City Water Systems”
Tyla Beke Field Archaeologist History unearthed in NOTL
Katie Biittner Blog Anthropology As
Alexis M. Christensen Blog Post/Conference Presentation (1st Public Archaeology Twitter Conference) “Archaeology in Popular Comics and Graphic Novels” – My Contribution to the 1st Public Archaeology Twitter Conference
Benjamina Dadzie Blog Post “New Finds from Henry Townsend Letters
Claire Ebert Journal Article “Regional response to drought during the formation and decline of Preclassic Maya societies”
Freya Fenton Conference Presentation (European Association of Archaeologists 2017) “Jade Dragons and Wooden Crosses: Changing Attitudes to Archaeological Artefacts Within the Tomb Raider Franchise”
Kate Fitz MA Thesis “The integration of an established industry: glass in the early Roman Empire”
Alex Fitzpatrick Blog Post “Keeper of the Archives: Sith Archaeology and Propaganda”
Sarah Foxley Report “Results of the 2016 Content and Computing Survey for Historic Environment Records in England”
Rebecca Gilmour PhD Thesis “Resilient Romans: Cross-Sectional Evidence for Long-Term Functional Consequences of Extremity Trauma”
Helen Goodchild Journal Article Borgring: the discovery of a Viking Age ring fortress
Alice Gorman Website Article “Friday essay: trace fossils – the silence of Ediacara, the shadow of uranium”
Dorothy Graves MacEwan Journal Article Monuments and Landscape: Investigating a Prehistoric Monument Complex at Lochbrow, Dumfries and Galloway
Steph Halmhofer Comic Book Review Tomb Raider: Survivor’s Crusade #1 – An Archaeologist’s Take
Lesley Howse Research project Alarniq Archaeology Project
Leah Islemoe Conference presentation (Canadian Archaeological Association 2017) “Women Within the Land: Salish Womens Puberty Landworks in the Archaeological Record”
Catrine Jarman Website Article “The truth about Easter Island: a sustainable society has been falsely blamed for its own demise”
Ilka Knüppel Gray MA Thesis “The Search for Jesus’ Final Steps: How Archaeological and Literary Evidence Reroutes the Via Dolorosa”
Robyn Lacy Blog The Spade and the Grave
Reecie Levin Journal Article “Breadfruit Fermentation in Pohnpei, Micronesia: Site Formation, Archaeological Visibility, and Interpretive Strategies”
Michelle Low Conference Presentation (Tea With the Sphinx 2017) “Ancient Egypt Reception Studies – The Use of ‘Archaeogaming’ to Educate Digital Natives”
Nikki Martensen Blog Post “An introduction to User Experience for Archaeologists and Heritage Professional”
Laura Mary Blog Post “Sexism in the archaeological discipline: The situation in the French-speaking world”
Sarah McClure Journal Article “Farming with Animals: Domesticated Animals and Taxonomic Diversity in the Cardial Neolithic of the Western Mediterranean”
Lauren McIntyre Journal Article “The York 113: osteological analysis of 10 mass graves from Fishergate, York”
Kirsty Millican Journal Article Monuments and Landscape: Investigating a Prehistoric Monument Complex at Lochbrow, Dumfries and Galloway
Diana Moreiras Website Article “Who did the Aztecs kill during their bloody sacrifices at Templo Mayor?”
Aisling Nash Project Report (also published in British Archaeology, September/October) “Have you Found Anything Yet?”
Theresa O’Mahoney MA Thesis “Empowering Archaeology: What model of disability do people with dyslexia in university archaeology courses experience?”
Vanessa Oakden Report Chapter Chapter 10, Section 2, ““Cheshire Past in 2014; Finds Reported under the Portable Antiquities Scheme”
Sara Rich Blog Shipwreck Hauntography
Lucy Shipley Book “The Etruscans: Lost Civiizations”
Florence Smith Nicholls Blog Post “Barriers to Entry in Archaeogaming”
Kisha Supernant Journal Article “Modeling Métis mobility? Evaluating least cost paths and indigenous landscapes in the Canadian west”
Becky Sykes Exhibition Manager Raising Horizons
Michelle Turner Blog Post “Legislative Attacks on Historic Preservation and Archaeological Research”
Annelies Van de Ven Exhibition Curation “(Re-)Producing Power”
Melandri Vlok Journal Article “A New Application of the Bioarchaeology of Care Approach: A Case Study from the Metal Period, the Philippines”
Sarah Ward BBC Interview (The Conversation) “Diving Into the Past”

(featured image – I went with this because I couldn’t find anything better! I thought the nailpolish may be a decent representation of ‘women’)