The spaces that we inhabit and interact with on a daily basis are made up of hidden layers of cultural activity that build up (quite literally) over time. While museum exhibits and history texts represent this cultural heritage, they don’t allow the public to meaningfully engage with place-based heritage . In addition, traditional museum exhibits rarely explore the two-sided nature of cultural heritage: the basic information about objects or locations on one hand, and the process by which scholars have reached those conclusions on the other. In short, the exciting scholarly narrative of cultural heritage is often hidden from the public.
Developed as a collaboration between the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative, the Michigan State University Campus Archaeology Program, and MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences, msu.seum allows people to interact with the rich cultural heritage of Michigan State University’s campus, and understand how the MSU Campus Archaeology Program helped uncover it. Built on the idea of “campus as museum,” the app connects cultural heritage directly to place, letting people explore what is known about the cultural heritage of MSU, as well as the rich and exciting story of the archaeological and historical research.
Built by Students, Made Stronger through Collaboration
The initial, prototype version of msu.seum was envisioned, designed, and developed by students in the 2011 Cultural Heritage Informatics Fieldschool. Now in its second year, the CHI Fieldschool is a unique experience that brings diverse students together for 6 weeks to learn how to build applications and digital user experiences that serve the domain of cultural heritage
After the prototype version of msu.seum was completed at the end of of the 2011 CHI Fieldschool, MATRIX: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences, in collaboration with the Michigan State University Campus Archaeology Program, began work on a new, greatly enhanced version of msu.seum. The current version of msu.seum (available for free on the iTunes App Store) is the the result of this very fruitful collaboration.
Development of msu.seum was directed by Dr. Ethan Watrall (Director, Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative; Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology; Associate Director, MATRIX). Initial design and development by Whitney Cornwell, Heidi Dowding, Rachael Hodder, Katy Meyers, Minh-Tam Nguyen, and Alexis Santos. Additional programming at MATRIX by Peng Xie, Michael Dunn, Anthony D’Onofrio, Connor Avery, and Zach Jones. Additional UI design at MATRIX by Dan Jaquint. Additional content design and development by Dr. Lynne Goldstein (Director, Campus Archaeology Program; Professor, Department of Anthropology) and Terry Brock.
Images in msu.seum were generously provided by the Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections, Terry Brock, and Dr. Lynne Goldstein.