Bringing Stories to Life makes Ed Rodley Happy to be Alive

This interview is part of our “Thought Leader” series, where we get inside the heads of the best and brightest in the museum & technology world.

Ed Rodley

Exhibit Developer @ Museum of Science, Boston

Ed was born, went to school, started working at a museum. He’s still at it and is showing no signs of stopping anytime soon.

TourSphere: What was a stand-out museum/exhibit that caught your interest this year?

Ed: I wish I’d gotten down to see Infinite Variety in New York during the week it was up. The pictures of the Armory full of towering cylinders and curves of red and white quilts took my breath away. I can only imagine what it must’ve been like to be in the space. Degas and the Nude @ MFA was the best exhibition I actually saw in 2011. It combined great art with a compelling narrative, deep curatorial knowledge, and the mobile tour that went with the show was impressive. It was the best, most seamless blending of mobile with physical I’ve seen.

TourSphere: What was the coolest use of technology you saw in a museum in 2011?

Ed: I don’t tend to think that way, which is a bit ironic given my position and institution, but there you have it. The exhibits I’ve seen this year that have made me go “Wow…” have almost always incorporated computational power in ways that aren’t obvious. Like my colleague who has made a MIDI-controlled Tesla coil that plays creepy loud music. It’s a computer exhibit, but the computer is just a tool to get the job done.

TourSphere: Is there an app or a technology that has changed the way you do things or made your job easier this year?

Ed: Twitter has been a major part of my professional workflow for years, and I continue to be amazed at how central it has become. I use it to search for information, communicate with colleagues around the world, trend spot. It’s a godsend. This year in particular I have been loving my productivity apps like Evernote and Dropbox. Keeping my files accessible across multiple machines and OSs is vital to me.

TourSphere: Apple or Android?

Ed: I own an iPhone, but I’m rooting for HTML 5 and responsive web design to throw a wrench into the Apple/Android shouting match. Given the success of sites like and others to deliver really rich mobile experiences, I think 2012 is going to be an interesting year.

TourSphere: If you had to sum up what you think the theme for museums in 2012 will be in one word, what would your prediction be?

Ed: Relevance.

TourSphere: What do you see as the biggest challenge for museums in the coming years?

Ed: Making the case for museums in the 21st century. What can we contribute to society in the 21st century that makes us worth supporting?

TourSphere: Is there something you are passionate about in the museum world that you would like to wax philosophical about or rant about?

Ed: Heh. That’s why I blog, to get out all the ranting and raving in more socially valuable ways. I am a story teller, and anything that involves bringing stories to life makes me happy to be alive. Weaving objects and experiences into narratives that visitors can construct for themselves as they go along gives me a thrill, every time.

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, Ed!  Keep up with Ed and his insights at:

Site: Thinking About Exhibits
If you’re in the Boston area keep an eye out for Ed’s “Drinking About Museums” events.  They’re wicked fun!

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