Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The children's garden experience at Quail Botanical Gardens

I had the pleasure of visiting this new children's garden at Quail Botanical Gardens, which opened in June 2009. Read more about the design here and here. It's a whimsical place, designed for kids ages 6 and up (the pre-school garden is in another location, called Seeds of Wonder). There's so much that's fun for kids and their parents.

The garden's master plan, planting design, and theming was created by Dugmore Design Studio. The project was built by JRS Construction Management. The centerpiece of the garden is the Treehouse, designed by Deneen Powell Atelier, who also fleshed out the details of all the themed areas. The structure, built of steel and concrete, is planted with epiphytes and ficus cuttings, which they hope will eventually send roots down to the ground and surround the structure with a living tree. It's the first-ever "top down" approach. The treehouse is fully ADA accessible and allows climbing opportunities for kids of all abilities.

You can decorate your own butterfly, and/or lie down and become the butterfly.

Seating walls incorporate donor signage in a subtle way, while a large tic tac toe game is participatory fun.

As reported at other children's gardens, it's impossible to keep kids out of the water in environments like this. (This water is safe for kids; changing local regulations have made it necessary to post these signs.)

Hands-on art area, including a weaving wall.

The music area, with tons of xylophone and drumming options.

Each interpretive sign has its own unique outfit to match the content of the area.

Kudos to the staff at Quail and the talented designers, builders, and horticulturists who worked together to create this rich playscape.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday's signpost

How do you make culture more interesting? Make it personal. Make it human. These humongous banners advertise a symphony group in LA; thousands of people drive by every day. You see several of the musicians as you approach this building, each holding his or her instrument. Putting a human and personal face on cultural attractions helps people connect.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The visitor experience at Madrid Barajas Airport

Travel with me to Madrid's international airport in this 4-minute video podcast.

I examine the visitor experience at Madrid's Barajas International Airport during a LONG layover, including wayfinding, retail display, family-friendly touches, and comfort elements like seating. You'll learn why we ended up at the wine bar more than once. (Hint: it wasn't the wine.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

How some NY museums used social media to stage an art event

People often ask me, "Why Twitter?" What's the point? And why should my museum be on Twitter?" If it wasn't for Twitter I would have had no idea about an amazing event that happened last night in Queens, NY.

Artists Duke Riley, Jade Townsend, and Kitty Joe Sainte-Marie staged a semi-mock naval battle/art event called "Those About to Die, We Salute You." He built several scale model boats and enlisted four museums (each from one of the boroughs of New York) as warriors: The Queens Museum of Art (also the hosts), Brooklyn Museum, The Bronx Museum, and El Museo del Barrio. The battle took place in Flushing Meadows, Queens, in a reflecting pool that hadn't been flooded since the 1964 World's Fair. (You'll recognize the World's Fair globe from its role in several movies, like Men in Black.) I have a personal connection to Flushing Meadows, as my mom and grandmother lived there. I have many memories of driving by and seeing the globe from the expressway. I was also at the 1964 World's Fair (yep, that's me in the car-shaped stroller).

As the day drew nearer, the Tweets grew more combative, with Queens Museum and the others often simply writing, "Fight! Fight! Fight!"

People posted links to photos so we could watch the progress of the boats as they were built, like this one from TwitPic.
a couple of boats getting ready to leave for the upcoming epi... on Twitpic
They also posted links to photos like this one, via TwitPic:
we have a message for @brooklynmuseum, see if you can deciphe... on Twitpic
An entire photostream was built on Flickr, so you can simply go to Flickr, put in the tag DukeRiley and watch all the photos and videos via slide show. This was coordinated in the sense that people learned to use the common tag, and then posted the link to the slide show. Anyone who attended can upload their pix using that tag and they are automatically added to the photostream. (This photo courtesy of TwitPic.)
Oh no! #DukeRiley on Twitpic
Had I been in New York I absolutely would have been there in my toga, after viewing this video posted on YouTube and Tweeted in advance.

A helpful Tweet from the hosts:
for those attending tonight, yes we have parking, here are directions and yes you must toga #dukeriley

Just a year ago, I probably would not have heard about this event. I might have read about it afterwards in a blog (here, here, at the Reuters blog or the NYTimes blog.)

But because of Twitter I was looking forward to it, I felt like I was there, and I feel I know these four museums much better. I'm also far more likely to visit these museums next time I'm in New York.

So my Tip of the Day is Just Say Yes to Twitter. If you need help getting started, check out my Twitter tutorials. And to all of you in New York and especially the artists, We Salute You. :) Here's the video by Bryan Derballa:

Saturday, August 08, 2009

How to use Twitter for your museum or cultural attraction

I've recently started using Twitter, and have met many museum people who either want to get on Twitter or are using it but want to learn more. I created these three tech tutorials to help you get started, learn the lingo, and find some amazing and useful tools.

Part 1 will show you how to set up and customize your account and some great examples from nonprofits:

Part 2 will show you how to shorten links, add photos and video, and use an application called TweetDeck to make sense of all your incoming Tweets. Other applications covered are,, and Twitpic.

Part 3 will teach you Twitter etiquette, help you decipher those Tweets that look like they're written in code, and show you some really cool search tools that will expand your Twitter universe.

As always, these are priced with nonprofits in mind. If you took just one class with a computer specialist, you'd pay about $125 for an hour. These tutorials are only $5 each, and I've just added a BUY 2, GET THE THIRD FREE option, so you can take all three classes for $10, and refer to them over and over. Just use coupon code TECH-TUT during checkout. That coupon code works for any of the tech tutorials, so you can also purchase all three of the blogging tutorials for that same price. (Coupon is good through December 31, 2009.)

If you have recently been laid off or put on furlough days, you may be looking for ways to improve your skill set. I truly hope these tech tutorials will expand your potential for new employment by giving you in-demand skills and helping you stay up to date. Please let me know if there are other topics you'd like to see covered in the tutorials.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

New Facebook tech tutorial!

In response to your requests, I've created this tutorial teaching you how to create a Facebook Page for your museum or other nonprofit. Here's a short sample:

The $5 tutorial covers how to create an account, begin customizing your Page, create events and a calendar tab, and even how to embed your Twitter feed onto a tab or on the sidebar of your Wall. I also show you some good examples of organizations who have been successfully using Facebook. Here's the link for this tech tutorial.