Final Project: “Legacies of Slavery” Tour at the National Gallery of Art

Hi all! You will find my poster here, my finished audio tour here, and my physical tour script here. (In a perfect world, this audio tour would be available on the National Gallery of Art’s mobile app or via rentable/borrowed earpieces at the museum, rather than only on SoundCloud… but that’s not important for now!)

Looking back at this project, I was surprised at how user-friendly the digital aspects were, especially in terms of getting my audio tour onto a public platform. SoundCloud, my platform of choice, was quite user friendly, and my files uploaded quickly. Then, I simply combined them to a playlist. Luckily, I did not post enough audio files on SoundCloud to exhaust the number of uploads available to free users, but I can see that as a possible drawback if this project were to expand. Otherwise, I think that SoundCloud is a great, transparent platform. One drawback—making my “Legacies of Slavery Tour” playlist public has led to many messages from fake accounts/scammers asking me to join their band or check out their profile. It is definitely a bit frustrating, but I suppose every social media platform has drawbacks like this.

Perhaps the hardest part of recording my audio tour for SoundCloud was finding a quiet space in my tiny apartment building and getting a “perfect” take. I hate hearing my own voice, so I ended up rerecording each tour stop about five times in an attempt to get the sound, tone, etc. just right! Without access to any fancier recording materials, I simply used my iPhone. It took most of a day to get my final recordings, but I am happy with the way they turned out. I was then able to “perfect” these audio files using digital tools to alter, clip, and merge recorded pieces before uploading them. I am sure that these skills will come in handy. 

While these digital aspects were quite easy, the research behind my audio tour was difficult, and certainly the most time consuming part of my final project. It makes sense—I chose to write and talk about slavery in the National Gallery of Art’s collection because they did not openly share that information—and as a result, it was tough to find the stories I wanted. It took quite a lot of digging, but I am proud of my discoveries and truly think that a tour like this should be used at the NGA (*cough call me! cough*). I had hoped to find more tour stops to include in my final script, but there just were not enough resources, leads, or time to do so. Still, I think that ten stops make a manageable tour that is short enough to hold the attention of casual tourists. I was wary of overdoing it with the knowledge that this is a difficult subject that can weigh heavily on a visitor’s mind. 

I hope you all will enjoy the stories included here, and perhaps learn something new about the role of slavery in art.

It was also important to me to make my digital project as user-friendly as possible. After many conversations this semester about the accessibility and convenience of digital platforms, I realized that an audio tour is completely inaccessible for deaf or hard of hearing patrons. A physical tour script is my quick solution for this problem. 

All in all, I cannot imagine a more relevant course or project experience than learning about digital history in the time of a worldwide quarantine! My eyes have really been opened to the necessity of understanding these digital techniques as I move forward as a practitioner in this field. Not only that, but I learned through others, enjoying each of my peers’ projects and the various outlets and tools they used. I have even used Omeka for another course project, and I feel like an expert after our in-class practicum on both versions! Thanks all for a fun, informative semester. Be sure to check out my SoundCloud and let me know what you think! 

schitts creek kiss GIF by CBC

3 Replies to “Final Project: “Legacies of Slavery” Tour at the National Gallery of Art”

  1. I love your project, Sarah! It’s so important to explore the hidden legacies of slavery within national institutions, and your project marks an important step towards acknowledging these truths at the National Gallery of Art. Do you think you’ll reach out to the National Gallery to see if they’d be interested in working with what you’ve gathered? I think you have something to be proud of showing off — worst they can do is say no, right?

    The depth of historical research you conducted is very clear, and I appreciate that you even paid attention to smaller details, like stating the locations of the art you interpret within the National Gallery. This really is an audio tour that is ready to go, and I can’t wait for when the National Gallery opens its doors again so I can actually take it!

  2. Amazing project, Sarah! It’s clear you’ve put a lot of thought and care into it. I agree you should maybe reach out to the National Gallery, especially given the circumstances – they might be looking for something like this to engage with or promote while they’re closed! Great work!

  3. This turned out so great! Great work. I’m really impressed by the quality of the recordings. I feel like you also created something very usable, that is the time on the audio seems like the right length. Great work!

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