Hello again! It’s been awhile since I’ve done a guest blog, so let me reintroduce myself. My name is Cori Iannaggi and I am a KSU alumna, former MuseLab manager, and current Rock & Roll Hall of Fame employee. The Rock Hall curatorial team and the MuseLab recently joined forces to create a test space in the MuseLab’s main gallery, and I couldn’t be more excited to be working in the lab again! Below I will tell you the story of how the exhibit came to be by breaking it down into three phases: The Idea Phase, Design Phase, and Installation Phase. The Idea phase will review how we initially came up with the overall exhibit concept, the Design phase focuses on our process of turning our basic exhibit concept into a manageable test space, and the Installation phase focuses on…well…the exhibit installation!
In the fall of 2017 the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame curatorial team began the planning process to redesign our second floor exhibit space. We knew we wanted to create a hands-on music makerspace where visitors could interact with instruments and make music. Our goal for the makerspace is to allow visitors to learn, create, make and share music in a communal space. Now, how to flesh out the interactive elements? Including playable instruments in the space was a no-brainer for the Rock Hall, but we wanted to make sure we covered other elements of the music-making process. One idea that kept surfacing was the inclusion of a songwriting section, but we wondered how to make this an effective interactive.
Fast forward to winter 2017 and we were still struggling with the songwriting section of the music makerspace. Writing lyrics is an incredibly unique, personal, and challenging experience, and we were worried visitors would be too intimidated to try a songwriting interactive. It soon came to my attention that the MuseLab had an opening in their 2018 exhibit schedule and I pitched the idea of testing the songwriting element in there. After submitting a project proposal and completing a couple brainstorming sessions with our staff and the MuseLab team, it became clear the MuseLab’s main gallery was the perfect place to test out the interactive!
Now for the fun part – turning the idea into reality. I was assigned the roles of project manager and communication liaison between MuseLab and Rock Hall staff. Once the project was given the final go-ahead I immediately created a small RRHOF team to work on the creation of the experimental interactive. As someone who has never written a song or done any sort of digital programming, I knew I needed assistance from other departments (I’m in Curatorial). Our team consisted of two people from curatorial, one from education, and one from technical services. We met bi-weekly for two months to develop the functional aspect of the app as well as the design, script, and visitor survey questions.
Outside of the interactive team, I met with our in-house exhibit designer to come up with a basic look and feel for the main gallery space. We knew we wanted it to be simple and bold with the main focus on the interactive, but we also wanted to figure out a way to include Rock Hall inductee handwritten lyrics. After a couple of brainstorming sessions, our designer came up with the idea of blowing up actual handwritten lyrics to cover the walls. It was this final design element that really put the finishing touches on the exhibit experimental design and brought that Rock Hall feel into the space.
The Rock Hall's final design, used to guide the installation in the MuseLab.
Installation took place over a busy three-week period with the help of the MuseLab manager, Bridget Garnai. The most time-consuming elements were the painting (it’s amazing how long it takes to tape off a 20x20’ gallery space) and installing the vinyl lyrics. Luckily, we had a few extra hands to help during the vinyl install, including those of our wonderful Rock Hall curatorial intern, Emily. The interactive install was relatively simple, as the most time-consuming work (building and programming the interactive) took place during the design phase. All that needed to be done was to load the interactive onto a computer and plug it into the space. After a few rounds of adjusting the volume of the headphones and microphone, the interactive was ready to go. Overall, I’m very happy with the work we did in the space. I think we accomplished a lot in a short period of time and now I can’t wait to have visitors go through the exhibit!
And now, the experiment begins! We’d love to know what you think! After all, the whole reason for this prototype is to get your feedback. Is the interactive intuitive? What can we improve? Your input, positive or constructive, will only make the final installment better. Just think, your opinion could help shape a future permanent exhibit in the Rock Hall!
If you’re interested in seeing the exhibit, sign up here to reserve your spot! Those who complete the interactive and follow-up survey will be entered into a drawing to win a Rock Hall gift basket (check out the MuseLab case on the first floor of the library to see what’s inside the gift basket)!
The MuseLab is open Monday and Friday from 10:00am – 4:00pm and Wednesday from 1:00pm - 7:00 pm.