Collaborating to bring cultural history to a science exhibit using mobile technology

Our latest blog post was contributed by Nancy Harmon, co-founder and chief curatorial officer at Encurate. Nancy shares a case study in collaboration where practical technology was used to bring historical context to a science story, featuring two Chicago organizations. 

In September 2024, The International Museum of Surgical Science (IMSS) will be exhibiting Health in Space: Daring to Explore. Health in Space is not just a display; it’s an immersive experience designed to demystify the unique health challenges faced by astronauts. 


Pictured: “Health in Space” exhibit on display at Canada Aviation and Space Museum


Developed in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency, this exhibition showcases Canada’s pivotal role in advancing health research through an array of authentic artifacts and engaging interactive activities. In addition to the already interactive and collaborative exhibition, and as part of the museum’s mission to provide an international exploration of the history of health and medicine, the curatorial team at the IMSS is also working with The Japanese Culture Center of Chicago (JCCC) to add the stories and perspectives of contributions of Japanese space explorers and health scientists – and this is where we at Encurate come in to help.

Health in Space is a touring exhibition with pre-built components. IMSS wanted to overlay the cultural and historical stories provided by the JCCC in a way that made the experience seamless for the visitor, to ensure that those connections were made. It made perfect sense to capitalize on existing infrastructure – their mobile app (powered by Encurate) which features self-guided tours, an interactive map, and exclusive content. The accessible platform is easy to use and allows IMSS to create and add content—even for pop-up exhibitions—so it was a no-brainer to employ the app to add tours authored by members of the JCCC as a companion for the temporary exhibition.


Pictured: Views of the International Museum of Surgical Science app that will be updated to include “Health in Space”


We have helped our clients collaborate in many ways throughout the years—with students, other institutions, and partnering organizations—with our technology. We have witnessed time and again the importance of accessibility to collaboration, in particular the use of a web-based content management system that allows for remote access and makes it possible for teams  with multiple individuals and institutions to work on a project at the same time. For several weeks prior to the exhibition opening, the JCCC will use the Encurate content management system to upload content and draft their tour and IMSS staff can review and edit as well. Once the tour is ready, the Encurate team will update the app with the new tour in a matter of hours.

Collaboration is an essential part of working in the museum field. Collaboration happens between institutions, between colleagues and individuals, between visitors and curators, and more. At Encurate, we’d go so far as to say that collaboration is a responsibility: it creates synergy, learning, and growth for all involved, and we’re proud to have created a tool for museums and cultural institutions to not only engage with their visitors, but the ability to do so in a collaborative way. We’re proud to offer the Health in Space collaboration up to AMM members as a reminder to make sure your platform and process are easy to access and navigate.