"Hacking" the Museum

Catherine Whited

This semester, I had the great privilege of working with Mk Haley and her students for the course, Themed Entertainment Design. As part of this Arts and Entertainment Technologies class, Professor Haley challenged her students to reimagine what an art tour could look like using highly engaging tools from gaming models. With Landmarks as their inspiration and the renegade tours of Museum Hack as their guide, each student chose a work in the collection and applied the principles of “Games, Guides, and Gossip”: 

  1. Get your guests involved in a fun activity
  2. Share credible information
  3. Do a little research to provide some backstory

A student presents in front of "Eleanor at 7:15"; a steel sculpture


The project began in March with my introductory tour of the collection. The students then spent three weeks brainstorming their tour stop, researching their work, and gathering supplies. Finally, over the course of two days in April, we traversed the length of campus to participate in each student’s activity and learn what they had discovered about their chosen work.

Our first stop set an incredibly high bar. The student pictured below reached out to the artist Willard Boepple and talked to him by phone about his inspiration for Eleanor at 7:15. He then invited his classmates to create their own abstract sculptures out of cardboard and foil.







A student holds their hand behind a opaque screen which resembles Ann Hamilton's process in "ONEEVERYONE"


A photo of Education Coordinator, Catherine Whited holding a mobile inspired by Beth Campbell's "Spontaneous Future(s), Possible Past(s)"


Several students invited the class to engage in the artists’ process. One created his own “Ann Hamilton photography screen” which all were invited to touch. Another group had us write down our thoughts about the future which were then combined into a mobile reminiscent of Beth Campbell’s Spontaneous Future(s), Possible Past.


Two students stand in front of Beth Campbell's "Spontaneous Future(s), Possible Past(s)."


Some students even incorporated costumes into their tour stops. These two “Greek chorus” members regaled us with the myth of Prometheus and the Vulture before inviting us to write down our struggles and then ceremonially “burn” them.

Two students dressed as a "greek chorus" reveal the myth of Prometheus and the Vulture

All of the students brought the collection to life in creative and imaginative ways. Their work perfectly exemplifies how Landmarks’ collection serves as a vital curricular resource.

See the video below for a full synopsis of all these incredible projects!

All photos by Mk Haley and Maria Ramirez Pena.