Museum/University Partnerships in an Age of Rapid Digital Innovation

Will Luers, USA , Brett Oppegaard, USA, Will Luers, USA

In an economic environment of dwindling resources yet growing technological possibilities for engaging the public, museums and universities can benefit from partnerships aimed at developing meaningful digital innovation. With digital art, digital media, and digital communications being taught at many undergraduate and graduate programs, public institutions can look to university partnerships for research, design, development and even production of digital projects, as well as interactive, immersive digital-based exhibits. Equally, emerging graduate and undergraduate programs in digital media can foster their ability to teach innovation and collaboration by actively seeking partnerships with public and private museums. This half-day workshop is designed for museum and university professionals who are looking for models and best practices for forming such collaborations.

As an undergraduate university program that integrates research and teaching, theory and practice in the areas of digital humanities, media art, media communication, media studies, and information systems, the Creative Media & Digital Culture (CMDC) program at Washington State University Vancouver is uniquely positioned to foster and participate in such partnerships. Over the past four years, the CMDC has worked with for-profit and nonprofit sectors, building and launching mobile applications, 3D visualizations, websites, and social media projects for museums and cultural institutions in the Portland-Vancouver Metropolitan Region. These partnerships have been invaluable to institutions that lack the resources and/or knowledge for digital production and provided CMDC students with real world experiences to jumpstart their careers, while developing their commitment to public service.

Through the models of successful and ongoing projects with the National Park Service (through the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site), Clark County Historical Museum, The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and The Nikkei Legacy Center, among others, this proposed workshop will cover the following practical and theoretical topics:


  • types and methods of digital projects
  • learning opportunities for students
  • innovation opportunities for institutions
  • project management and maintenance
  • communication strategies
  • integrating students and structuring workload
  • intellectual property and other legal issues
  • envisioning the future of museum/university collaborations

Participants in this workshop, facilitated by members of the CMDC program, will leave with knowledge and best practices necessary to develop and pursue their own collaborative institution/university innovation partnerships.