2020: No Social Distancing in Museum

Lightning Talk

Friday, April 23, 2021: 12:30pm - 2:00pm - - Lightning Talk

Paige Dansinger, Better World Museum, USA

Where No Social Distancing Exists: Museum Resilience in time of Covid, Climate, & Colonialism

Two VR museums became platforms for social connection, social activism, and resilience building in 2020. Pandemic surging, violence in the streets, shuttered museums; one museum that never closed was Better World Museum. Created in the digital cross-platform social VR program Rec Room (IOS, PC, Oculus, Steam, PlayStation), this museum was open 24/7 in VR. Better World Museum welcomed almost 800 visitors at the height of an isolating global pandemic and polarising social crisis.

Presented to the WHO Covid + Arts Symposium as a “Recipe for Resilience,” Better World Museum created an active VR museum community leveraging Teen Leadership Development. Rec Room, known for being the Wild West for unruly pre-teens, became a platform for achievement, building confidence, and place-making for a group of 11-15-year-olds who transformed into *paid* 3D Architects, Holotar Educators, and an Interactive Artist in Residence. Social events included Earth Day, Pizza Parties, Bob Ross Night, Art Openings, and a social action Dinner Party. When one welcomes a 14-year-old to invite their friends in VR, 400+ Avatars may arrive – social distancing did not exist in our museum!

Similarly, in the new social world-building platform Facebook Horizon (beta), I created a museum out of primary shapes. Horizon Art Museum became a hub for social connection and social action! A Facebook sponsored social event, “Women in VR Meetup,” highlighted Horizon Art Museum’s +Community Voices Program. This program welcomes new diverse, LGBTQ+, indigenous, and disabled members by teaching them how to make an interactive button that amplifies their voices in the museum. I used part of my weekly US government Covid UI payments to compensate our participants with cash or a matched double donation to charitable organizations. This raised morale and a measurable Better World Museum and the Horizon Art Museum

Bibliography:
https://www.heidi.news/geneva-solutions/the-art-of-creating-amid-a-global-catastrophe?utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR1jiQnCdgiYlnM-4cL1QUWPcAx1QcXS05PGrTCfB2zBAA2IbP_MKLWdKC0

https://www.startribune.com/5-minnesota-artists-whose-work-is-perfect-for-the-virtual-world/570271882/

Sara Konrath (2019) Museums as Weavers of the Invisible Strings that Connect us, Journal of the Australian Library and Information Association, 68:4, 327-342, DOI: 10.1080/24750158.2019.1670772

The Social Work of Museums. Lois H. Silverman. Routledge, 2009