The Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program, the Building and Grounds Department at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, and the Lyon Arboretum are collaborating to offer self-guided tours on the UH-Mānoa campus and at Lyon Arboretum via a contract with Guide by Cell. They are also working with technical and content assistance from the Joseph F. Rock Herbarium, UHM.
In spring 2011, students in a Museum Studies course participated in testing and evaluating a botanical garden tour utilizing two new technologies: Quick Response (QR) codes and mobile phone technology. Fifteen Polynesian introduced plants in the St. John courtyard, commonly known as “Canoe Plants,” were selected for this self-guided tour. Botanical, ethnobotanical, taxonomic, and historical information was provided for each species. The audio tour phone number, prompt number, and QR codes were printed on the labels for the selected plants. Each audio tour lasted approximately one minute and each QR code was linked to a unique web page with information on the specimen.
A written survey of thirty participants (90% students and 10% faculty/staff), revealed that the tour information was well-received. 86% agreed or strongly agreed that the tour content was interesting and 100% agreed or strongly agreed that there was sufficient information provided for each plant. 50% of the participants selected the QR code feature, while only 27% selected the mobile phone call-in feature, and 23% selected both features. Participants that chose the QR code feature cited that potential mobile phone charges were the primary reason for not selecting the audio tour only. Others explained they were visual learners and preferred being able to view the content rather than hearing it.
The Canoe Plant self-guided tour was designed and implemented by Michael B. Thomas, Collections Manager of the Joseph F. Rock Herbarium, UHM; and Malia Mallchok, IT Specialist, Technology & Distance Programs, College of Education. Undergraduate student participants were from a “Museum Interpretations” course (AMST 457/ART 481) and graduate students were from an “Educational Technology in Informal Learning Environments” course (ETEC 643).
Inspired by the use of innovative technologies in the “Canoe Plant” tour above, two undergraduate students in a Museum Studies course (AMST 457, Museum Interpretations) assisted in the development of a tour of plants at the Lyon Arboretum involving both a mobile phone audio tour and QR codes based on the “Canoe Plant Tour” in St. John Courtyard for their final project during the spring 2011 semester. These two students, Shiela Peterson (American Studies) and Rebeccah Treser (History/American Studies) worked under the supervision of Jill Laughlin, Education Programs & Outreach Manager, Harold Lyon Arboretum; Michael B. Thomas, Collections Manager of the Joseph F. Rock Herbarium, UHM; Malia Mallchok, IT Specialist, Technology & Distance Programs, College of Education; and Karen Kosasa, instructor of AMST 457.
Ms. Treser also assisted in updating and improving the arboretum’s use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Flickr, and YouTube) to enhance its interactions with visitors and members. She wrote an informative “Online Social Guide” to support the staff’s use of the different social media tools.
During the spring 2012 semester, undergraduate students in Museum Studies courses (AMST 457/ART 481) expanded and improved the self-guided tours at Lyon Arboretum by adding more plants to the tours, providing a brochure and rack card, and improving the photographs and texts on the mobile application. Students Meagan Kubojiri (American Studies), Sarah Smith (Art), and Heather Terstegge (Anthropology) were assisted by Melissa Rand, Graduate Assistant in Museum Studies.
Under the supervision of Karen K. Kosasa, Director of the Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program Director and Chair of the Executive Board of the Judiciary History Center, and Matt Mattice, Executive Director of the Judiciary History Center, Museum Studies students will assist in various aspects of the renovation of the permanent exhibits. Students will learn all aspects of the renovation process (e.g., research, visitor survey, Request for Proposals, and exhibition planning). Preliminary research and discussions with consultants began in 2008, but the project was tabled because of the weak economic climate. The project restarted at the end of 2011.
Students in the Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program have assisted the Nippu Jiji Photo Archive since 2005 to rehouse the archive’s collection of historic photographs and negatives, to digitize its collection, and to input collection data into a collections management software system. In 2008, MSGCP received a grant from the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts to assist in the transfer of one third of the collection photographs and negatives from acidic to acid-free archival housing. In 2010, Museum Studies students, Liane Ikemoto and Melissa Rand, coordinated and assisted with the transfer of the collection from the UHM campus to a climate controlled room in the Weinberg Building on the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i. This transfer was prompted by the University of Hawai‘i’s decision to shut off the AC in the room housing the collection during weekends and holidays as part of its energy savings plan.