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LMNH: Communities of Practice Sarah Marcotte Thompson Outreach Coordinator Los Angeles Museum of Natural History The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is the largest natural and cultural history museum west of the Rockies and has been in existence for 91 years

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LMNH: Communities of Practice

Sarah Marcotte Thompson

Outreach Coordinator

Los Angeles Museum of

Natural History


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  • The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County is the largest natural and cultural history museum west of the Rockies and has been in existence for 91 years

  • (Isn’t that older than Los Angeles? No!)

  • This museum has been very conservative in its uses of technology:

    • we maintain the bare minimum in technological infrastructure (outsourcing)

    • we have delayed expenditures for staff and equipment necessary to move us forward

    • we do not currently moderate online communities (visitors, professionals, educators) of any kind However….

www.nhm.org


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  • Communities of Practice made possible with technology have sprung up, not because of institutional mandates but in spite of them, such as the Marine Biodiversity Processing Center (MBPC)

  • (http://collections.nhm.org/)

  • A group of passionate individuals which has embraced technology to collaborate, manage priorities and to communicate within the museum.

Images of specimens

Images of collections after processing

Interactive map with locales

Images of collections before processing


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  • The success of the MBPC serves as a model for the NHMLA to use technology to…

    • expand its use of the web to effectively communicate with its own departments and existing audiences of researchers

    • integrate better communication and collaboration tools into the development of a new Marine Biodiversity Center, which will pool resources of several disparate departments

  • But also to….

    • use the web to communicate with existing and potential museum volunteers

    • give online visitors a behind the scenes look at museum research

    • provide teachers with authentic resources

    • develop moderated online communities with external audiences, especially local teachers

High school volunteer, hopin’ for the big bucks


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