Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art Uses Polycom RealPresence

Art education has been shrinking throughout the past decade. Due to decreases in budgets and redistribution of funding, art education has more limited resources. This leads to creative approaches to give schools access to higher-quality programs, without increasing the cost.
Polycom RealPresence solutions allow experts, such as Deborah Stokes, the Curator for Education at the National Museum of African Art (NMAfA), to conduct virtual visits and participate in collaboration sessions anywhere in the world. She teaches video classes and conducts tours using Polycom’s People+Content, which allows her to appear integrated with images and various artwork. Her classes start by going through the entrance of the museum, showing participants a small part of the museum’s collection of over 10,000 pieces, and then shows HD images of related pieces and photographs with discussion encouraged.
Any school may register for these classes by using the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration, or through Polycom’s CAPspace portal  which is used to gain access to collaborative video distance learning programs by over 13,000 educators in 47 countries.
This isn’t the first time the National Museum of African Art has taken advantage of the power of RealPresence. In 2011, the NMAfA used video collaboration systems to connect a group of young survivors of 2010’s earthquake in Hati with peers in Washington DC.
Video classes are becoming so popular that Stokes has already doubled the number of students reached in a year. In 2011-2012 about 800 students we reached, and this year an anticipated 1600 students will participate in the classes.