Tenement Museum: Your Story, Our Story

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The Tenement Museum’s Your Story, Our Story was a popular online tool for teachers in NYC who were already bringing their students to the museum. When the Museum received a grant to redesign YSOS, I worked with them to determine how to scale the site and better leverage the collection of user generated content.

YSOS originally launched in 2014 as an educational curriculum and supporting website. YSOS inspires users to select an object that represents their family’s personal immigration story and submit it online. The result is a digital exhibit of immigration stories which allows the Tenement Museum to tell a larger and more inclusive story of immigration.

In order to determine how the site should grow and evolve, I conducted a Research and Discovery phase that included interviews with students, teachers, and Museum staff.

We heard from Museum staff that moderation of the site required too much effort. We created templated group gallery pages that allow partner institutions to create and manage their own pages. This templated approach allows the Tenement Museum to control the YSOS brand, but gives partner institutions the autonomy to put their own spin on the program and distributes the responsibility of reviewing posts.

While the first iteration of the site amassed a large collection of objects, there was no way for Museum staff to contextualize or interpret the collection. We added featured cover stories that allowed Tenement to curate collections of individual objects and relate them to current events or larger trends.

Students and teachers loved the straightforward and easy upload form. We kept it largely as is but added updated image upload fields to make it even easier for users to upload and edit their content.

We also added a mapping function to the redesigned site which allows stories to be tagged by location. This dynamic system plots stories as they are submitted, providing a snapshot of the program’s new and expanded reach.

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