MOPA Awarded IMLS Sparks! Grant for Open Source Online Contest Solution

Release Date: 
May 9, 2011
Thanks to a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Museum of Photographic Arts, in conjunction with the Balboa Park Online Collaborative, will develop and pilot an open source module for online contests.
“The IMLS Sparks! grant comes at a strategic time for MOPA, as we are looking to find new avenues of engagement, both online and in our galleries,” said Deborah Klocko, executive director, MOPA. “We are fortunate to have BPOC as a partner in bringing this project from conception to reality and are eager to build an intuitive and engaging system for managing online contests in a way that makes sense for our organization.”
As a project partner, BPOC will provide technical direction, overseeing the module’s development, testing and implementation. As one of twenty cultural institutions belonging to BPOC, the Museum of Photographic Arts has already worked with BPOC’s team to digitize its photography collection and integrate high-tech kiosks into its gallery.
“Development of this module will have a broad impact on cultural institutions across the country that are interested in using online contests to inspire and engage their audiences,” said Rich Cherry, director, BPOC, a partner on this project. “The challenge has been that the technology behind contests can be quite complex but this solution will offer museums a simple, low-cost solution.”
The grant will allow MOPA and BPOC to build the capacity of museums to engage with audiences online through an advanced online contest solution. The project will create open source software to facilitate online submission of user-generated content including photographs, videos, written narratives, and weblinks. The software will also support public voting on the content, thereby encouraging the contest to spread virally through participants’ networks of friends, family, and colleagues.
“I am delighted to announce the first-ever Sparks! Ignition Grants, designed to help libraries and museums solve challenging problems,” said Susan Hildreth, director, IMLS. “These awards speak to the great ingenuity and creativity of libraries and museums and we look forward to sharing their lessons learned.”
The Sparks! Ignition Grants for Libraries and Museums initiative is a new funding opportunity developed by IMLS to expand and test the boundaries of library, archive, and museum services and practices. It provides small, targeted investments in high-risk, innovative responses to the challenges and opportunities facing cultural heritage institutions in a rapidly changing information environment. Innovation is the key to using time, money, and staff more productively, and to helping cultural heritage institutions improve their services, processes, programs, and products. These grants will support the testing of specific innovations and foster broad sharing of information about what works and what does not. Because innovations can emerge in a variety of settings, the Sparks! Ignition Grants initiative is structured to encourage participation by organizations of all types and sizes. Partnerships are permitted, but not required.
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MOPA Information: The Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) is one of the premier institutions in the United States devoted to photography, film and video. Since its founding in 1983, MOPA has been dedicated to collecting, preserving and exhibiting the entire spectrum of the photographic medium. The Museum’s endeavors consistently address cultural, historical and social issues through its exhibitions and public programs.
About the Institute of Museum and Library Services The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit
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