12 episodes

Join us for inspiring conversations with museum professionals using technology to tell their museums’ stories in innovative and meaningful ways.

What's On: The Cuberis Podcast Nick Faber, Director of Content Strategy

    • Government

Join us for inspiring conversations with museum professionals using technology to tell their museums’ stories in innovative and meaningful ways.

    Episode 11: Jay Cosnett and Erin Brasell of Oregon Historical Society

    Episode 11: Jay Cosnett and Erin Brasell of Oregon Historical Society

    My guests today are Jay Cosnett and Erin Brasell from the Oregon Historical Society, and they’re talking with me about their recently-launched blog, Dear Oregon.



    **FULL TRANSCRIPT**



    NICK: Hi, and welcome to What’s On, the Cuberis podcast. I’m Nick Faber.



    My guests today are Jay Cosnett and Erin Brasell from the Oregon Historical Society, and they’re talking with me about their recently-launched blog, Dear Oregon.



    I met Jay last year in Vancouver, at the Museums and the Web conference. It was my first time at MW, and I was co-hosting a content strategy workshop with our CEO Eric. I’d like to think that everyone in the class got something out of our session, but Jay, in particular, seemed to be especially excited to be there.



    JAY: So I walked in thinking, well I know a little about content strategy, but not focused on museums, this will be great. But then, in like the first two minutes, Nick says, “So, content strategy is a big topic, but what we’re going to do to get your feet wet in an actual project, we’re going to pretend that your organization is starting a blog. And I was like [clap, clap] awesome. Because, of course, we were…



    ERIN: We were starting a blog!



    NICK: A few months ago, I checked in on the OHS website to see how the blog was going. And I was so thrilled to see that their new blog, Dear Oregon, had not only launched but was producing some really rich collections-based content. So I reached out to Jay to see if he wanted to talk about the blog, and he insisted that I meet Erin Brasell, too, who Jay described as the brains behind the blog, and they joined me over Skype. Since I’d never been to the Oregon Historical Society, I wanted to know a little bit about what I’d find there, and that’s where we’ll pick up the conversation.



    ERIN: Our mission is to preserve our state's history and make it accessible to everyone in ways that advance knowledge and inspire curiosity about all the people, places, and events that have shaped Oregon.



    And it's a mouthful, and it's a pretty broad mission, but we do work to advance the mission in a number of ways, including, we have permanent and temporary exhibits, both here in the building and online. We have a research library, we do a number of public programs and workshops here in our downtown location. We also partner with other organizations across the state.



    And the Oregon Historical Society recently launched a digital collections site in 2017, which makes available online thousands of images. We also have oral histories and documents from our collections. And they're constantly being updated. So, like hundreds a week, usually?



    JAY: Yes, hundreds a week. There's tens of thousands of documents on there and the diversity is astounding. And there's just more and more stuff up there all the time. And part of what's important about that is that even though we're located in downtown Portland, we're the Oregon Historical Society. So we're really charged — we're not a part of the government, we're an independent nonprofit that is charged with — we have a duty to preserve and share the history of the entire state with the entire state.



    So one of the reasons that — my title is web strategist — one of the reasons I was hired almost five years ago was because we needed to do a better job providing services to people who aren't physically here. And so that's really where the web comes in. So the digital collections site has been a huge leap forward in our abilities to provide access to our materials to people who aren't just here.



    NICK: Awesome, and actually, I had this as a question later on, but Jay, since you mentioned being a web strategist, could tell me a little bit more about what you do at the Oregon Historical Society?



    JAY: Sure,

    • 25 min
    Episode 10: Jennifer Henel of Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art

    Episode 10: Jennifer Henel of Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art

    Jennifer Henel is Digital Humanities Developer at Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art



    My guest today is Jennifer Henel, Digital Humanities Developer at Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art.



    When we talk about museum website content at Cuberis, we break it down into four types. We call one of those types "Essential Content." This refers to the day to day work, mostly scholarly in nature, that occurs at your museum, and would even if you didn't have a website.



    Thanks to recent innovations and initiatives, more and more institutions are finding innovative ways of repurposing Essential Work as web content. Jennifer has been helping curators and historians publish their work online for years, and joined me to talk about some of the unique challenges of digitizing scholarly works. She also has some great ideas and insights for others who are looking to do something similar for their own institutions.



    **FULL TRANSCRIPT**



    NICK: Hi, and welcome to What’s On: The Cuberis podcast. I’m Nick Faber.



    If you’ve ever worked on a website redesign project, you know that it takes a lot of content to fill an entire website. But for a moment, imagine that your museum didn’t have a website at all. Think of how much content your museum would still to produce -- Catalogs, scholarly research, educational resources, labels -- all of the work that is essential to your museum’s mission and purpose. But your museum does have a website, and that work can now impact people who can’t make it to your physical location.



    When we talk about museum websites at Cuberis, we refer to that type of content as Essential Work. Thanks to recent innovations in digital technology, more and more cultural institutions are making their Essential Work available online, making it accessible to more historians and scholars, and taking advantage of the Internet’s intrinsic properties to make it easier to read and understand.



    My guest today is Jennifer Henel. She is working with Research Conservator Melanie Gifford of the National Gallery of Art to produce a new publication for the all-digital Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Art. I invited her to join me to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of publishing scholarly work online, what peer review looks like for digital publications, and what sort of insights she has for museums looking to make more Essential Work accessible to more people.



    Jennifer joined me over Skype from the National Gallery of Art. Before we dove into the technical aspects of her work, I wanted to know more about the Journal of Historians of Netherlandish Arts.



    JENNIFER: Sure. It is the scholarly production of articles, etc, relating to Netherlandish art, Flemish art, Northern Baroque paintings, by and large, Dutch Art, that kind of spans the 1400s - I'm making large generalizations here -- through, I'd say the early 1700s, depending on the subject matter. And they are deep scholarly dives, often, into a particular painting or paintings, that sort of thing.



    It is a community of these various historians that are spread out throughout the world, and they can all contribute. And they aim for quarterly publication, though it just depends on what is coming up when they produce certain publications.



    So that is what the journal does.



    NICK: So you just started working with them -- or recently started working with them -- as a digital humanities developer. What is your role there, and what does that title mean?



    JENNIFER: So I am working on a specific new publication that is part of the journal offerings. It's going to be slated for next year. We're aiming, I believe, for late June to push this out. And what I'll be doing is, I'm working with a scholar, Melanie Gifford, on her research on the Sir Peter Paul Rubens painting The Fall of ...

    • 30 min
    Episode 9: Adrienne Clark of Museum of Pop Culture

    Episode 9: Adrienne Clark of Museum of Pop Culture

    If you’re like Adrienne Clark, you might find that you have more in common with your museum's audience than not.



    Before she was the Museum of Pop Culture’s Content Manager, Adrienne was a member of the museum and a fan of their collections. And because she can empathize with her audience on that level, the MoPOP blog and Instagram feed always feel vibrant and relevant.



    I came across the MoPOP blog a few months ago as I was scanning through hundreds of museum websites, and her work immediately stood out to me. Not just because of the subject matter -- as you’ll hear, I’m also a fan of the museum’s topics -- but because of the content’s voice.



    I wanted to know how she developed the voice of the MoPOP blog, so I asked Adrienne to join me for a Skype call.







    **FULL TRANSCRIPT**



    NICK: Hi, and welcome to What’s On. The Cuberis Podcast. I’m Nick Faber. My guest today is Adrienne Clark, Content Manager at the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle.



    As someone who produces content for your museum, how often do you think about your audience? It might sound like a trick question, but in my opinion, it should always be the first thing you do as you sit down to write an article, take a photo, or produce a new web page.



    If you start out by asking some simple questions -- Like, who is this content for? What value do we expect to give them? And how could this shape their experience with our institution? -- you can ensure that your website, your blog, or any other digital content you create is making an impact and reinforcing your relationship with your audience.



    And if you’re like Adrienne Clark, you might find that you have more in common with your audience than not.



    Before she was the Museum of Pop Culture’s Content Manager, Adrienne was a member of the museum and a fan of their collections. And because she can empathize with her audience on that level, the MoPOP blog and Instagram feed always feel vibrant and relevant.



    I came across the MoPOP blog a few months ago as I was scanning through hundreds of museum websites, and her work immediately stood out to me. Not just because of the subject matter -- as you’ll hear, I’m also a fan of the museum’s topics -- but because of the content’s voice.



    I wanted to know how she developed the voice of the MoPOP blog, so I asked Adrienne to join me for a Skype call. But first, I’ve never been to her museum, so I wanted to know what I could expect to see if I ever got the chance. And that’s where we’ll pick up the conversation.



    ADRIENNE: Well, the first thing you'll see is a big, colorful kind of crazy-looking building designed by Frank Gehry. It's right underneath the Space Needle. You can't really miss it. The monorail, which you probably would have seen swooping through the neighborhood goes straight through the building as well. So that's the first thing you're going to see, and you're gonna go, what is this place?



    Inside, you're going to see exhibits on music -- Nirvana, Pearl Jam -- exhibits on science fiction and horror film, as well as indie games. And right now we have a huge, massive -- our biggest exhibit to date -- of Marvel Universe of Super Heros, so a pretty cool addition.



    NICK: Awesome. Yeah, I noticed lately that you've had a lot more Halloween related content, so I was wondering how much horror is actually on display in the museum. Is that a pretty big part? Is it like film in general, or are you pretty genre-specific?



    ADRIENNE: It's actually one exhibit that focuses on horror. You're seeing a little bit of my joy of horror as well, I'm a big horror film fan. And every year we do a kind of initiative called "31 Days of Horror", but we only have four or so events, so the rest of that is filled out with content. It's our bread and butter this time of year.

    • 29 min
    Episode 8: Charissa Sedor and Ralph Crewe of Carnegie Science Center

    Episode 8: Charissa Sedor and Ralph Crewe of Carnegie Science Center

    Screengrab from: https://youtu.be/ldqv6Y2myKI



    Charissa Sedor and Ralph Crew host Science News and Qs, also known as SNaQ, for the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. They combine their curiosity about science with the intimacy of podcasting to help the Science Center reach people in its own community and around the world.



    Each new episode is not only fun and informative, but it also extends the Science Center’s mission to delight -- as you’ll hear, they’re definitely delightful -- educate -- they know what they’re talking about and are great at explaining it -- and inspire. And if you’ve ever considered starting a podcast for your museum, hopefully, they’ll inspire you to finally do it.







    **FULL TRANSCRIPT**



    NICK: Hi, and welcome to What’s On. I’m Nick Faber, Director of Content Strategy at Cuberis. My guests today are Charissa Sedor and Ralph Crewe of the Carnegie Science Center.



    If you’re listening to this episode right now, I don’t have to tell you what a podcast is. But I would like to tell you why I like them so much.



    I grew up listening to talk radio, and not just for the news. I especially loved the shows where it was just one or two people in a studio, talking about current events, sharing stories from their lives, making jokes. Just… talking. It felt like a constant companion in my life, like a reliable, funny friend, who was always ready to hang out.



    When podcasts became more accessible, I started listening to those. And I sought out shows that reminded me of the radio shows that I loved. And the best part was, I didn’t have wait to tune in at a certain time, I could just listen whenever I wanted to.



    As podcasting grew in popularity, something really great happened. They started getting really, really specific. Now there are podcasts about board games, podcasts about a single band or movie, podcasts about other podcasts. It seems like there’s a podcast for every niche.



    When I work with museums on developing content strategies, one of the exercises we work through is figuring out their unique positioning. Basically, who are you, who do you serve, and what do you do for them? In other words, what’s your niche and what sort of content can you create to own it?



    My guests today have become experts at using the intimacy and immediacy of podcasting to help their institution serve its audience of science-curious folks in their own community and around the world. Charissa Sedor and Ralph Crew host Science News and Qs, also known as SNaQ, for the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh.



    Each new episode is not only fun and informative, but it also extends the Science Center’s mission to delight -- as you’ll hear, they’re definitely delightful -- educate -- they know what they’re talking about and are great at explaining it -- and inspire. And if you’ve ever considered starting a podcast for your museum, hopefully, they’ll inspire you to finally do it.



    Charissa and Ralph joined me over Skype. I asked them where the idea for SNaQ came from, and that’s where we’ll pick up the conversation.



    RALPH: About... what, a year and a half, two years ago, I started talking about doing a podcast. I'm lucky that I get to make new programs at the Science Center. My title is Program Development Coordinator. And I share an office with Charissa. And Charissa and I have been working together for years, and we've done live planetarium programs and other things for a long time.



    And I just basically-- I listen to a ton of podcasts, and thought, why can't the Science Center have a podcast? So we started working together and brainstorming. We put together a little miniature episode about bees.



    CHARISSA: Yes, our two-minute pilot.



    RALPH: And showed it to the directors, and were like, hey look,

    • 24 min
    Episode 7: Katharine Uhrich of Field Museum

    Episode 7: Katharine Uhrich of Field Museum

    My guest today is Katharine Uhrich from The Field Museum, and we’re talking about social media. Social media has become a standard part of most marketing and communications strategies, but just showing up on Twitter isn't enough to keep potential visitors engaged. The best accounts to follow don’t just interact with their followers, they regularly provide entertainment, information, and something of value in every post.



    Katharine is the social media manager at Chicago’s Field Museum. Day in and out, the Field’s social media feeds are filled with high-quality updates from its collection, its researchers, and its visitors and fans. And sometimes with a little help from its Twitter-famous T .rex, SUE. I wanted to know how Katharine manages this vibrant presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, in a way that isn’t just engaging but also aligned with her museum’s mission. So I invited her to join me on the podcast.



    *FULL TRANSCRIPT*



    NICK: Hi, and welcome to What’s On. The Cuberis podcast. I’m Nick Faber. My guest today is Katharine Uhrich from The Field Museum, and we’re talking about social media.



    You know, maybe I’m stating the obvious here, but, in some ways, social media has become the 21st century equivalent of fan mail. Think about Twitter, for instance. Celebrities are more accessible than ever. Unlike the old days where you had to find an address in a magazine and hope your favorite pop star or actor gets your letter, and then really hope you hear back from them, today, there’s a pretty good chance that you can have a real-time interaction with them.



    And furthermore, social media has made celebrities out of people, places, and inanimate objects who would have been harder to reach in whatever niche they occupy.



    Now you can tweet at an airline. Or a baseball team. Or a dinosaur.



    But accessibility does not a Twitter follower make. The best accounts to follow don’t just interact with their fans, they regularly provide entertainment, information, something of value in every post.



    Katharine Uhrich is the social media manager at Chicago’s Field Museum. Day in and out, the Field social media feeds are filled with high-quality updates from its collection, its researchers, and its visitors and fans. And sometimes with a little help from its Twitter-famous T .rex, SUE. I wanted to know how Katharine manages this vibrant presence in a way that isn’t just engaging, but also aligned with her museum’s mission, so I invited her to join me over Skype.



    Here’s Katharine.



    KATHARINE: We try to be very friendly and welcoming, obviously inclusive and respectful. And sort of generally be seen as an authority, but not authoritative. We also try to be clever and fun, you know. Talk like a real person to real people. And a lot of that voice comes directly from our mission and our brand. So I think social's a great opportunity for us to be an extension of that, and to be the living personality of the brand and mission online.



    And, obviously, depending on the platform, the voice expresses itself in different ways. For instance, on Facebook, I'd say we're a little bit more formal and by the book. Whereas, obviously, on Twitter, you can have a lot more fun. The pace is more rapid. There's more opportunity for witty banter and whatnot.



    NICK: And emojis.



    KATHARINE: Yes, and many emojis.



    NICK: And so, the SUE account does use a lot of animated GIFs and emoji, and makes a lot of jokes and is sort of irreverent. Would you say that, as the Field social media manager, that you're taking any kind of cues from that, as far as what people respond to? Or is the SUE account helping to influence what you do as far as that kind of friendly voice and the style of emoji and banter and stuff?



    KATHARINE: Yeah, absolutely.

    • 22 min
    Episode 6: Tess Colwell of Brooklyn Historical Society

    Episode 6: Tess Colwell of Brooklyn Historical Society

    If you’ve ever managed a museum blog, there’s a pretty good chance that you started off with a lot of steam, publishing two or three posts a week. But over time, your output slowed to a trickle, and you were happy if you were publishing one post a month. Or quarter. Without a good plan in place, you might run out of ideas or worse, fall victim to the dreaded choice paralysis.



    With so many great stories at your fingertips, it helps to have creative parameters to make sure you’re telling the right one at. One way to create guardrails on your blog is with recurring features. Think “Curator’s Corner”, or “Artist Profiles”, or, in the case of the Brooklyn Historical Society, “Photo of the Week.”



    As Digital Projects Archivist at Brooklyn Historical Society, Tess Colwell oversees major grant projects, provides assets for researchers, and spends a lot of time processing BHS’s collections, particularly the photos. Sometimes she comes across a photo that could bring light to a collection, or provide historical context for a current event.



    With Photo of the Week, Tess and her colleagues have developed a popular platform for illuminating hidden treasures of Brooklyn Historical Society’s vast collections and expanding the institution’s reach.







    *FULL TRANSCRIPT*



    NICK: Hi, and welcome to What’s on. I’m Nick Faber, director of content strategy at Cuberis. My guest today is Tess Colwell of the Brooklyn Historical Society, and we’ll be talking about the “Photo of the Week” feature in the BHS blog.



    One of the biggest content challenges for museums is the blog. Some museums don’t think they need one, and those who do, don’t always know how to keep it going or even relevant.



    If you’ve ever managed a blog, there’s a pretty good chance that you started off with a lot of steam, publishing two or three posts a week. But over time, your output slowed to a trickle, and you were happy if you were publishing one post a month. Or quarter. Without a good plan in place, you might run out of ideas or worse, fall victim to the dreaded choice paralysis.



    With so many great stories at your fingertips, it helps to have creative parameters to make sure you’re telling the right story at the right time. One way to create guardrails on your blog is with recurring features. Think “Curator’s Corner”, or “Artist Profiles”, or, in the case of the Brooklyn Historical Society, “Photo of the Week.”



    As Digital Projects Archivist at Brooklyn Historical Society, Tess Colwell oversees major grant projects, provides assets for researchers, and spends a lot of time processing BHS’s collections, particularly the photos. Sometimes she comes across a photo that could bring light to a collection, or provide historical context to a current event.



    With Photo of the Week, Tess and her colleagues have developed a popular platform for illuminating hidden treasures of Brooklyn Historical Society’s vast collections and expanding the institution’s reach.



    I wanted to know the origin story of Photo of the Week, and how Tess knows which photos to share every week, so we talked over Skype



    TESS: Photo of the Week is an interesting story. It started before I came to BHS. From what I understand from colleagues, the Fort Greene Patch, which was a local blog, they approached someone from our communications team about creating a Photo of the Week for their website with the intent that the photos would be highlighting the neighborhood of Fort Greene.



    And we embraced the idea, and we dedicated one post per month to Fort Greene. And then we posted all those posts to our blog as well. And then other neighborhood blogs contacted us as well, but it didn't really catch on. And then, ultimately the For Greene Patch fell off the radar, but we continued the posts and then actually started it as a weekly..

    • 16 min

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