The one where we went to the Museum

The class of #J463 … and me

Today our Top Audio Storytelling class visited the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, located just a few hundred yards from our J-School.

It’s a fabulous — huge — space with a constantly changing, global and diverse collection. Today it was especially packed, with tour groups and people anxious to see the Shakespeare first folio before it leaves on Sunday.

The only academic museum in Oregon accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, the University of Oregon’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA) features engaging exhibitions, significant collections of historic and contemporary art, and exciting educational programs that support the university’s academic mission and the diverse interests of its off-campus communities. The JSMA’s collections galleries present selections from its extensive holdings of Chinese, Japanese, Korean and American art. Special exhibitions galleries display works from the collection and on loan, representing many cultures of the world, past and present.

Our Assignment

Students were given just over an hour to tour the building and to capture audio from which they would produce a 1–2 minute audio story.

These have to be turned in by midnight tonight, so planning was key. You could easily spend the whole class just walking through the building working out what you wanted to do your piece on; without having any time to actually produce it.

To overcome this, students were encouraged to visit the Museum in advance. To look at its website. And to think about 2–3 potential stories they could cover; enabling them to switch track if initial ideas didn’t pan-out.

Having back-up plans was especially important given how busy the Museum was, and the impact this could have on being able to record the type of audio you might want for your story.

Going to an Art Museum for an audio storytelling class might not seem like an obvious move. That was the whole point.
Great audio paints a picture with words and sound; describing a really visual experience would really force the students to exercise their storytelling chops.
One of Brian Lanker’s images.

Everyone has taken a different approach; from a rumination on a particular piece of art, through to the story of the Museum or a walk through the fabulous new exhibition featuring the work of the Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Brian Lanker.

In doing this, we were wonderfully supported by a number of Museum staff, who ensured our trip was incredibly smooth.

They patiently fielded questions, conducted interviews with us and made everyone feel incredibly welcome. Perhaps most importantly, they also made sure we didn’t leave our backpacks behind (as I did to my chagrin over the Christmas break, when the Museum and everything else was closed, leaving me bereft of a laptop for several days #firstworldproblems).

I’ll be posting some of the content from the session here in due course. In the meantime, I’m still basking in a wonderful trip and am full of excitement about the assignments that everyone will shortly be turning in…