Notes from call with Carl Hogsden of MAA/CambridgeU/CARET

James William Yoon james.yoon at
Wed Apr 29 22:06:31 UTC 2009

The following are notes from the call with Carl Hogsden this morning
(Wednesday, April 29, 2009). Anyone else on the call who might add to it is
more than welcome to do so!

Some background
- Carl Hogsden, research associate at the University of Cambridge, and
curator at Museum of Archeology and Anthropology
- Also works for CARET
- Sits beside Antranig
- Rebuilt the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology (MAA) using open source
technologies (just finished implementing a few days ago!)
- Responsible for curating exhibitions at the museum
    - Tries to squeeze in technology wherever possible into the space
    - When he first joined, all the MAA had was an iMac in the gallery space
    - Now they have loads of screen, some (all?) of them touch screens
- He's interested in using web technology to have work in the museum connect
with source communities (source communities are "the communities from which
museum collections originate")
- Interested in using web inside the physical space to have things interact
with each other
- Want to bring "local knowledge" into the museum

"Assembling Bodies" exhibition
- One of their current exhibitions is on the human body
- 12 or 13 different departments at Cambridge University contributed to
this; all those departments were somehow related to the theme of the body
- Each department gave their own interpretation, representation,
visualization of the body (e.g., ultrasound, DNA, art, etc.)
- Also about how machines become extensions of the body
- Miniature exhibits within the exhibition, each with its own theme,
corresponding to the different departments
- Would like for visitors to take objects out of the gallery (virtually),
combine and interpret the exhibition in their own way
- Would like for visitors to build relationships among the objects on the
website, and then bring that into the museum space when t hey visit
- Exhibition went live in March 2009, will be up for two years
- By autumn 2009, as a second stage, they want to somehow inject the web
into the physical space
- Users creating their own themes, and relatedness of objects, and sharing
- Exhibition space is ~70 metres in length, ~6 metres wide
- 12 or 13 different areas (each corresponding to the miniature
- Every object in the physical space is on their website

Some ideas
- Visitors could prepare what objects they want to see in the physical space
before coming in
- Visitors create mini, personal collections of objects [seems to be a
reoccurring theme in our museum conversations!]
- Visitors sharing their own interpretations of objects
- In the near future, the collections management system could collect
information from invited researchers, etc. outside the museum, and visitors
in the further future
- Carl would find it interesting to see what objects visitors find
- (and evidence for finding what visitors find interesting in the gallery)
- Museums collect stuff together; would be interesting to see how visitors
would form their own collections, and engage with the physical space with
- Still rare to see integration between the web and physical space in
museums [another reoccurring theme in our conversations with museums]
- Functionality/experience of the website often ends there, and doesn't make
it into the physical space
- The web is 2D, the physical space is 3D, and integrating the two isn't
always easy
- They run a post-grad course in the museum
- Collecting in and of itself is nice, but even better would be a reason for
- Encourage visitors to collect "because" of something, instead simply
collecting a bunch of objects they arbitrarily like
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