Polycom Employee

Last weekend we celebrated Mother’s Day, and you may not know it but there’s another celebration coming up this weekend. Sunday, May 18, is International Museum Day, a holiday established by the International Council of Museums to recognize the important role of museums in the development of society.

And this year’s theme is aptly “Museum Collections Make Connections.” It’s a great opportunity to share with you the amazing things Polycom customers are doing to ‘make connections’ across the world.

This includes world-class institutions like the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art (NMAfA). At a time when arts education and school budgets are tighter than ever, the Smithsonian is putting art back into the classroom. They offer great programs that let students visit the museum’s collection via video, compliments of Polycom RealPresence and Polycom HDX group video solution. .

We spoke with Deborah Stokes, the Curator for Education at NMAfA, who said, “We knew we had to get creative to find a way for schools to enhance their art education without spending resources or traveling. With Polycom RealPresence video collaboration solutions, we’re bringing content and culture alive to students around the world.”

With the help of Polycom, Deborah has designed interactive curriculums so students can get the most out of their virtual museum tours. Children are able to talk to Deborah in a fun, life-like and interactive way.  The program is so popular that the number of participating students doubled in just one year!

NMAfA also uses Polycom video solutions to help build relationships and cultural understanding globally. Following the catastrophic 2010 Haiti earthquake, one program used art to connect children in Haiti suffering from the devastation they had witnessed with students in a D.C. public school for a cross-cultural exchange of understanding and compassion.

It’s an interesting concept to think about: The path technology paves forward and the technology that preserves our past. Polycom is a part of both. In a time where students will now interact with their first iPad before their first blackboard, technology is evolving to provide them with the ability to learn and connect with cultures near and far, and those that are long-forgotten. I’ll be keeping a close eye on Deborah’s program as she continues to redefine the museum experience.  Oh, and Happy International Museum Day!


To learn more about the National Museum of African Art go to: http://africa.si.edu/education/distance-learning/

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