IU professor Stacie King receives grant to build a digital museum, organize workshops

Guest post courtesy of IU Communications colleague Jaclyn Lansbery:

Libraries, newspapers, classrooms — everything is supposedly going digital. Some say that’s a bad thing; but Stacie King, associate professor in IU Bloomington’s Department of Anthropology, has a pretty good argument for why museums should go digital, too.

King, a faculty curator for the Glenn A. Black Laboratory for Archaeology at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, recently got a grant to fund a workshop on building 3-D digital museums. As part of the grant, King hopes to design a virtual Web exhibit for a small community museum in Santa Ana Tavela in southeastern Oaxaca, Mexico, featuring archaeological artifacts found during the research project she started in 2007.

Excavations at the site of El Órgano, in Santa Ana Tavela

Excavations at the site of El Órgano, in Santa Ana Tavela. The ceramic vessel pictured here will soon be on display in the Santa Ana Tavela Community Museum. Photo by Marijke Stoll, 2013.

This summer, King will travel to Oaxaca to discuss the project with local and national government authorities.

Building a digital museum in rural areas will reach communities that otherwise can’t easily visit the Santa Ana Tavela Community Museum, King said.

“One of the things I’ve been thinking is that if I can develop some sort of low-cost, open-sourced platform in which we can build 3-D digital objects, and create a virtual Web gallery for this community museum, then that would be a way to reach those communities, but also to reach researchers from around the world who might want to see these pieces,” said King, adding that the community she wants to reach include residents from Tavela who now live in Oaxaca City, Mexico City, or the U.S.

The first component of King’s grant included training in late March at the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies at the University of Arkansas. For five days, King worked with the center’s staff to establish a workflow for creating 3-D digital objects all the way through designing a virtual Web gallery.

Using the same workflow King established in Arkansas, those participating in IU’s workshop will learn more about the low-cost options that can digitize heritage objects and artifacts.

Stacie King

Stacie King

“I think building digital museums is one way that we can really improve and democratize access to the results of scientific and humanities research more widely,” King said.

Rachel Opitz of the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies will give a free public lecture from 9 to 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 27, at the Glenn Black Laboratory in Room 101. The lecture will highlight the successful use of 3-D imaging in virtual exhibits and collections. No registration is required.

Opitz will also lead the workshop, titled “Build Your Own Digital Museum: An Introductory Workshop,” which will start at the Glenn Black Lab following the lecture May 27. The three-day workshop is free, but registration is required and space is limited. To register, email King at kingsm@indiana.edu before Thursday, May 22.

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