Media arts student photo at work on Jemez Historic Site visitor center.

Highlands University media arts and technology students Becca Sharp, left, and Natasha Vasquez work on the floor design element of a visitor center redesign for the New Mexico Jemez Historic Site spring semester 2019.
Photo: Rick Loffredo/University Relations

April 6, 2020

Las Vegas, N.M. – Online visitors to New Mexico museums will have access later this spring to more exhibits and other content during the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to students from New Mexico Highlands University and the state’s Department of Cultural Affairs.

Students in the university’s Media Arts and Technology Department are offering a free month of emergency cultural services to help create virtual tours, podcasts, websites, help get collections online, and more.

“We’re in a pandemic and we’re all in this together,” said Lauren Addario, a Highlands media arts faculty member who directs the Cultural Technology Internship program. “Our media arts and software systems design students can use their cultural and technical skills to help our partner museums, historic sites and libraries.”

Addario said the student’s work is particularly important now because museums are quickly trying to get their content online.

“The partnership between Highlands and the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs has been going strong for 15 years. When we see a need in our partner organizations, we want to help fill it, especially now,” Addario said.

Addario said New Mexico museums and other cultural institutions that have shown interest to date in working with Highlands media arts and technology students on this emergency initiative include:

-New Mexico Museum of Art

-Museum of International Folk Art

-National Hispanic Cultural Center

-New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum

-New Mexico Historic Sites

“I think this is an opportunity for our Highlands University students to take a leadership role in emerging technology. At a time when there can be no personal contact, this kind of remote service can be accomplished by our students whether it’s prototyping, web design, creating virtual tours or digitizing archives,” Addario said.