This spring, I curated a multimodal exhibit at the Haverford College Libraries that brought an early 18th century murder mystery to life. “Who Killed Sarah Stout?” draws together various materials from Haverford’s Quaker and Special Collections regarding The Trial of Spencer for the murder of Sarah Stout. The case still remains an unsolved mystery (Cowper was acquitted) and visitors are asked to explore the exhibit for evidence and ultimately to place their own verdicts. The exhibit is location based (think Clue) with each space providing a different lens and highlighting various archival documents. Visitors can use a mobile device to play a game in which they can summon characters from the Trial.
Throughout the process of implementing this exhibit and now reflecting back, a few core questions about best practices for multimodal or hybrid (digital and analogue) exhibits have stuck with me:
1.) How to balance the framework of creating an overall, cohesive narrative for the exhibit which can also leverage the possibilities of mobile platforms for visitors to create their own pathways? How to scaffold hybrid environments for various audiences and interests?
2.) Does the organization have a responsibility to provide access to the technology? (For example if there is a mobile component, should mobile devices be provided?) What are the gradations of access? How do these considerations impact the feasibility/sustainability of such exhibits?
3.) What are the options for scaling hybridity in terms of access, labor and tools?
4.) What are other opportunities to create hybrid models?
I would love to be able to think through some of these questions with the PhillyDH@Penn community and to hear about other projects that have engaged/ will engage with multimodal methods.