Reimagining the Audio Tour for Levinthal’s War, Myth, Desire

Lightning Talk

Friday, April 05, 2019: 11:00am - 12:30pm - Grand Ballroom: Lightning Talks

Kate Meyers Emery, George Eastman Museum, USA

The works featured in David Levinthal’s War, Myth, Desire gave us a unique challenge when designing the engagement around it: the photographs feature toys, but they are put into adult scenarios. Topics of his works include using green army men to depict World War II, figurines in various states of bondage, and a series called Bad Barbie, where barbie dolls, well… go bad. In order to be open about the nature of his works, and inspire our guests to talk about them, we decided to forgo the normal audio tour and create a podcast.

Podcasts are a forms of digital audio that often prioritizes discussion and dialogue over one-way lectures. Instead of having someone tell you how you’re supposed to feel or what you’re supposed to be seeing, we imagined a podcast that would be a discussion between the hosts, the artist, and a variety of experts who could offer different opinions on the work. The hope was that the guests would feel that they too could have varying opinions, and experts could place Levinthal’s work into the broader historical and cultural context. 

Though it took much longer to produce and coordinate than an average audio tour, the results have been worth it. The 30-minute podcast features a diverse group of voices that offer opinions on topics from the history of toys to black memorabilia to the Wild West. We found an increase in visitor engagement with the audio, that it improved interaction within the exhibition, and that we were able to use clips and quotes from the audio in a variety of ways to improve the exhibition both on site and online.