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Balboa Park Online Collaborative Blog

Media Release
Contact: Maren Dougherty
Balboa Park Online Collaborative
Phone: 619-819-9200

San Diego, CA –Almost three years ago, the Legler Benbough Foundation initiated the Balboa Park Online Collaborative (BPOC) to address common technological problems faced by museums and performing arts organizations in Balboa Park while improving public access to their rich cultural resources. In a departure from past practice of funding individual projects at organizations in Balboa Park, the Foundation invested a significant amount of funding ($3 million over three years) to support a focused effort to improve and enhance the use of technology across organizations. Today, BPOC provides a variety of technology services to the arts, science, and cultural institutions in Balboa Park and has grown from 17 to 27 members. In recognition of BPOC’s progress and its value to the Park’s cultural institutions, the Foundation has pledged to continue support for BPOC at the same level through 2012.

BPOC has matched the annual Foundation support with grants from national funding sources such as the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services as well as local philanthropists such as Joan and Irwin Jacobs. Members also support its sustainability via fee-for-service projects and contracted IT support that BPOC provides for a dozen Park organizations...

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This is a snapshot of one of more than 40 wireless access points that the Balboa Park Online Collaborative has installed in Balboa Park.

Free WiFi access is now available at the following park locations: House of Hospitality, Mingei International Museum, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego Hall of Champions, San Diego History Center, San Diego Museum of Art (partial), and the Timken Museum of Art. By this weekend’s December Nights celebration, we also expect to have the network available at the San Diego Museum of Man and San Diego Automotive Museum. You can access it by going to your device settings and clicking on the network titled "Balboa Park."

BPOC’s network complements the wireless internet access available at outdoor information kiosks that are maintained by the Friends of Balboa Park. With the pervasive WiFi network that BPOC is building, Balboa Park’s cultural institutions will be able to engage with park visitors via smartphone apps and mobile websites; improve the visitor experience by offering instant, free Internet access to find out about attractions, events, and amenities; and host more robust and technologically-...

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Earlier this month, several of us from BPOC attended the Museum Computer Network conference and THATCamp (The Humanities and Technology Camp) day in Atlanta. The events brought together about 350 museum professionals to discuss practical and theoretical issues related to museums’ use of new technologies.

The sessions highlighted some of the more innovative and forward-thinking museum projects happening across the country. After my brain stopped spinning with ideas related to digital accessibility, mobile tour development, data sharing, and web analytics, I spent some time digesting my takeaways and the related quotes that have stayed with me.

"If we're not going in this direction, what direction are we going?" – Matt Morgan, General Manager of the Website, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Matt was speaking about the Met’s decision to publish collection images online—many of them high res with zooming functionality. Quite often, users can get a better look at the objects through the website than they can during a visit to the museum galleries. (Try zooming in on Renoir’s “By the Seashore” or this...

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Media Contact: Maren Dougherty, Balboa Park Online Collaborative

San Diego, CA –The Samuel H. Kress Foundation has awarded a $145,000 grant to the Balboa Park Online Collaborative (BPOC) and the Balboa Art Conservation Center (BACC) for ConservationReel, a project to gather and present video on art conservation and collections care in an online resource intended for museum and conservation professionals, students, and interested members of the general public.

No such centralized resource of this type currently exists, and the project is particularly relevant given the challenges faced by today’s museums of providing cost-effective training opportunities and funding staff travel to conferences and workshops.

ConservationReel’s content will include video on collections care practices such as framing, packing, and storage; behind-the-scenes videos of conservators at work; videos from conservation conferences along with supporting materials such as slide decks and transcripts; and videos on related topics from international conservation organizations and museum conservation and scientific research departments. These resources are currently difficult or impossible for users to find online.

The resource will be modeled on the groundbreaking...

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Giskin AnomalyGuest post by Ken Eklund

One year ago a strange story began to unfold in Balboa Park. An official-looking decal for the “GISKIN ANOMALY SURVEY PROJECT” appeared on the ticket window of the Old Globe Theatre. It has a 800-number on it (877-737-3132) and a three-digit ID number (131). But “official” it is not. When San Diego visitors dial the 800-number and then the ID number, they get past the smoke screen and hear Pandora, who finds where an anomaly is, leave messages for Drake, who turns the anomaly signal into intelligible speech. The “anomalies” are ghost thoughts from the past – you hear the internal voices of people who were in Balboa Park during World War Two – still embedded somehow in the landscape.

As I said, a strange story. Mysterious! Intriguing! And of course not exactly true. GISKIN ANOMALY is a free “historical fiction” cellphone adventure created for park visitors by the Balboa Park Online Collaborative. It’s an experience that aims to transform how you perceive the Park – whether you’re new or have lived in San Diego all your life. It’s widely accessible – you can play any time, as much as you like, using any cellphone. And it’s a way to get inside history, to have stories whispered in your ear that put a human face on the extraordinary...

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