New Cell Phone Tours Provide Link Between Mayborn Visitors And Exhibits

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Baylor University's Mayborn Museum Complex will host the summer traveling exhibit, "Wrapped in Tradition: The Chihuly Collection of American Indian Trade Blankets," in the Thomas E. and Emilyne Weed Anding Traveling Exhibit Gallery from May 20-Aug. 18.
June 8, 2007

Media Contact: Sarah Levine, Mayborn Museum director of marketing, (254) 710-2517

Baylor University's Mayborn Museum Complex will once again incorporate cell phone audio tours into their summer exhibit Wrapped in Tradition: The Chihuly Collection of American Indian Trade Blankets to enhance the overall exhibit experience. The Mayborn was one of the first museums in Texas to use this technology last summer, and the results were so positive, they are bringing it back again.

Used for the first time last summer during the traveling exhibition, Feathered Treasures: Ceremonial Objects of the Amazon, the cell phone tours add an extra dimension for museum guests, said Fay Swann, media projects coordinator.

"Some people like to read the displays and some people like hearing information. This new feature will be a good thing for people who like to have audio tours," Swann said.

Cell phone use is typically discouraged inside a museum, but visitors to the Mayborn Museum are now encouraged to turn them on and take advantage of the informative service. The tour offers visitors interesting and pertinent information about exhibits in an engaging, easy-to-use format. The calls are free, aside from any costs incurred from minute usages on the visitor's personal phone.

Casey Eichhorn, a museum studies graduate student who has researched the effects of cell phones tours at the museum, said the new technology has the ability to attract a younger crowd to the museum, while still engaging other visitors.

"College-aged students are interested in using this technology, as well as older generations. I think it has the potential to bring groups together," Eichhorn said.

The Wrapped in Tradition exhibit offers six stops on the audio tour at which visitors can dial prompts for insightful commentary on the pieces. Listeners can learn about how the trade blankets are made, their beautiful designs and modern uses for the blankets. Each prompt averages about 90 seconds in duration. Visitors can either hang up after hearing a prompt or remain on the line and select additional prompts as they view other pieces. They also can leave feedback about any aspect of the exhibit or the museum by pressing a prompt and recording their thoughts. The information is available at all times, so a visitor can even call up the prompts after returning home.

The Mayborn Museum will add audio tour prompts for many other exhibits throughout the museum in the near future.

Wrapped in Tradition is a traveling exhibit organized by Chihuly Studio of Seattle, and will be on display from May 20 to Aug. 18 in the Thomas E. and Emilyne Weed Anding Traveling Exhibit Gallery at Baylor's Mayborn Museum. The exhibition features 15 glass "Blanket Cylinders" by American artist Dale Chihuly, who was first inspired by Navajo handmade textiles and then began to collect machine-produced blankets made for European-American Indian trade. Today, Chihuly is known as a pioneer of American Studio Glass, as well as a contemporary artist who creates monumental glass sculpture and environments.

The Mayborn Museum Complex is located on the Baylor University campus, just off Interstate 35, at 1300 S. University Parks Dr. in Waco, Texas. The 143,000-square-foot museum houses dynamic natural and cultural history galleries, 16 themed discovery rooms and a 13-acre historic village for visitors of all ages to "engage, explore and enjoy!" Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, and $4 for children, and free for museum members and Baylor students.

For more information, contact the Mayborn Museum Complex at (254) 710-1110 or visit www.baylor.edu/mayborn.

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