For more than 30 years, the de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University has brought history to life for hundreds of local fourth graders studying the California Mission period. And soon those youngsters—along with people of all ages—will discover even deeper meaning in the museum’s lessons from the past with a Silicon Valley twist.
The museum’s staff just released its first iBooks Textbook, a digital publication designed to give visitors a more enriching look at art and artifacts from the early days of Santa Clara Valley and Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Moving Forward: Santa Clara’s Story of Transformation is the first Multi-Touch book highlighting the history of one of California’s historic missions. The project is made possible through the support of Silicon Valley Creates and a gift from an anonymous donor.
“We have many objects on display in our permanent California History exhibition but they can’t tell the whole story,” says Lindsey Kouvaris, curator of exhibits and collections. “The iBooks Textbook will offer a much fuller picture of the history of this place at a level that’s accessible to everyone.”
Moving Forward is available to download for free in the iBooks Store and on the University and museum websites. The de Saisset will also be installing special kiosks throughout the galleries featuring the iBooks Textbook. Using accessible language that a fourth grader can understand, the seven-chapter book traces the area’s history from the Native Ohlone to the Mission period, through the Rancho period and the Gold Rush, and up to the early days of Santa Clara College.
“Anyone will be able to walk into the museum and use their own device or one of our iPad devices to enjoy a more enhanced experience,” says Kouvaris. “For example, the Mission Church standing at the center of campus today is the sixth structure on the fifth site. The materials and objects that remain from the previous iterations are limited; the iBooks Textbook gives us the ability to convey a more complete and historically accurate story about the history of the Mission.”
Produced with iBooks Author, the iBooks Textbook contains a variety of visual media ranging from still images to video clips and interactive graphics. Kouvaris and her team spent nine months creating much of the content from scratch, including updated maps and illustrations, new photographs of historical objects and sites, and interactive features that highlight the rich history of Mission Santa Clara. She sees the project as part of a greater museum trend.
“Many museums are incorporating different types of multimedia in their exhibits,” Kouvaris explains. “They’re doing podcasts, cell phone audio tours, and QR codes—making exhibits more interactive is hugely popular now.”
This digital presentation of the de Saisset’s permanent history collection is just a taste of what’s to come. “We have a major redesign on the horizon for the permanent collection exhibition,” says Rebecca Schapp, the museum’s director. “The installation has been much the same for 30 years. This project is another step on the way to rethinking the future of the exhibit. We’re gaining momentum and continuing to build on the work we accomplished through our National Endowment for the Arts funding last year.”
The iBooks Textbook was made possible in part by a grant from Silicon Valley Creates. Matching grant funds contributed to the development and dissemination of the iBooks Textbook and the design and implementation of kiosks with iPads that will be installed throughout the museum. An anonymous donor also graciously provided the museum with iPad devices that will make the iBooks Textbook content easily accessible to visitors.
Moving Forward is available for download here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/moving-forward/id719128951?mt=11&ls=1