Winners of 2017 GLAMi Awards Announced

The most innovative cultural projects of the year recognized at MW17 in Cleveland

More than 550 leaders from museums, libraries, archives and galleries around the world gathered at the MW17 Conference in Cleveland, Ohio on Friday, April 21 to recognize the year’s best innovations in the sector at the annual GLAMi awards. Winners were selected by an international committee of judges, chaired by Steven Beasley, Director of Digital Media at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, and Jane Alexander, Chief Information Officer at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Since the dawn of the Internet age, galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (referred to as GLAMi institutions) have been pushing the envelope on what technology can do to preserve, display, and showcase cultural treasures. MW’s annual conferences have been a platform for showcasing and disseminating this important work since 1997. Formerly the “Best of the Web” Awards, the GLAMies were relaunched at MW’s 20th conference in LA last year to showcase the best work the cultural sector has done to engage, inform and excite people both on the Web and across myriad emerging and ever-changing platforms. Whether it’s social media, virtual reality, augmented reality, audio and video tours, apps, or anything in between, the GLAMi Awards honor the projects and people that allow us to visit far-away places, explore ancient artifacts, or connect with the natural world, using amazing, often cutting-edge technologies and practices.

MW’s 21st conference hosted attendees from more than 33 countries and 300+ worldwide galleries, libraries, archives and museums. The annual North American gathering of the best and the brightest in the cultural and tech sectors is an opportunity for museum professionals, product developers, researchers and students to talk innovation as it relates to the stewards of the world’s history and heritage. Next year’s conference and GLAMi awards will be hosted in Vancouver April 18-21, 2018.

This year’s GLAMi Award winners include the following. Complete descriptions of the winning projects and nominees are listed on the MW17 site.

In the Education Category Winner: Museum At Your Fingertips: Telepresence Tours For Schools from the Balboa Park Online Collaborative, USA.  

The Museum at Your Fingertips project tested the ability of a telepresence robot, the BeamPro by Suitable Technologies, to provide meaningful and engaging remote tours to classrooms that lack the resources to visit museums in person. The two organizations worked together to design a tour program that took full advantage of the BeamPro’s capabilities to provide unique opportunities to students to access museum spaces and experiences.

In the Exhibition and Collection Extension Category Winner: Website from the National Museums of Scotland, UK

The beautiful Explore section of the National Museums of Scotland’s website provides visitors with an “online equivalent of a visit to one of our four museums” by bringing together the expanding catalogue of online content.

In the Exhibition Media or Experience Category Winner: The Natural History Museum of Utah’s Trait Tree, USA

The museum held a number of photo shoots around the Salt Lake City Community, inviting individuals to come and share a select set of visible physical traits through photos of themselves, then created a digital interface into which all of the photos could be searched and viewed according to like traits. The museum then created a custom piece of software to allow all of the visitors to the exhibition to participate in the project digitally. By the end of the 3-month exhibition, more than 1,600 had added their live photographs to our digital Trait Tree. This was among the most popular elements in the exhibition with more than 70% of visitors engaging deeply with—and chatting about—their place on the Trait Tree.

In the Exhibition Media or Experience Category Winner: VOLUME: Making Music in Aotearoa from Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand
Hands-on and ears-on, Volume is the first major exhibition of New Zealand popular music. What sets Volume apart is participation – the museum wanted visitors to put themselves in the exhibition and have a go at making music themselves. They developed four major digital interactive experiences to explore different aspects of the music industry, demonstrating the range of creative roles and skills in the sector – beyond being a rock star. Extensive prototyping and user-testing ensured they had well-crafted and accessible visitor experience.

In the Exhibition Media or Experience Category Honorable Mention: Weaving A Better Future Virtual Reality App from the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), Canada
Through the use of virtual reality (VR), visitors were transported to Guatemala with an experience that was part of the Empowering Women exhibition! Visitors were immersed in the vivid sights and sounds of weavers’ workshops, a fair-trade textile store, ancient Maya ruins, a kitchen where women come together to prepare meals, a bustling outdoor market, and more.

In the Groundbreaking Category Winner: ArtLens Studio, Cleveland Museum of Art, USA
In 2016, the Cleveland Museum of Art opened the doors to the ArtLens Studio, a completely re-imagined expansion of the museum’s original Studio Play. Astonishing in its visionary breadth, the magic of ArtLens Studio is deceptive in its simplicity. While visitors are having fun, they are also looking closer, making connections and gaining comprehension that will enhance their appreciation of art throughout the museum. At the Reveal and Zoom Wall, visitors use their bodies to reveal artworks or zoom into an artwork in great detail. In the Create Studio, visitors create their own unique artworks at the four stations: Pottery Wheel, Collage Maker, Portrait Maker and Paint Play.

In the Marketing and Promotion Category Winner: #ElectionCollection Campaign from the National Archives, USA:
In 2016, the National Archives partnered with American Experience PBS to launch #ElectionCollection, a social media campaign that showcased the holdings of our thirteen Presidential Libraries during the 2016 election cycle. #ElectionCollection unified our various institutional parts–thirteen Presidential Libraries, regional archives, the flagship museum in Washington, DC–and raised the public profile of our institution.

In the Marketing and Promotion Category Winner: Digital Content Strategy by the Royal Academy of Arts (RA), UK
In the run-up to the RA’s 250th birthday in 2018, the museum wanted to overhaul their website and social media content. Through a tremendous amount of research, they determined they would reach new audiences by being genuinely valuable, not by telling audiences that they were valuable. In practice, it was a process of stopping everything that was published online and starting again – this time with their values, objectives and audiences at the core of everything they did.

In the Museum-Wide Guide or Program Category Winner: SFMOMA App, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, USA
The SFMOMA app is the first mobile experience in the cultural sector to combine cutting-edge location-aware technology with rich and diverse audio storytelling, in what we hope is a new standard for the field. The app features a new breed of guided narratives that take you through the museum’s seven floors of galleries and public spaces, as well as onto the surrounding streets of San Francisco. These 15–45 minute Immersive Walks feature a range of fascinating and unexpected hosts, including high-wire walker Philippe Petit, Avery Trufelman from the 99% Invisible podcast, Academy Award-winning documentarian Errol Morris, and comedians Martin Starr and Kumail Nanjiani from HBO’s Silicon Valley. Production values are akin to those of This American Life or Radio Lab, with richly layered soundtracks accompanying personal narratives.