MCJ students and faculty help develop new app for Shaver museum

Phone screen showing new app, held up against a scenic Shaver Lake background. Fresno State students and faculty helped develop a new app for The Central Sierra Historical Society Museum.

~ By Taylor Blaire Mosher, student writer for the College of Arts and Humanities

Last fall, the Central Sierra Historical Society and Museum in the Shaver area contacted MCJ professor Candace Egan and students Raja Tahir and Natalie Nigg to produce several videos.

After a lengthy development process, the video work performed by these Fresno State students and faculty has made its debut in the long anticipated new app for the Central Sierra Museum — Sounds of the Central Sierra. Now available for Android and Apple devices, the app provides a new, interactive look at the historical site, bringing the museum to you.

Founded in 1991, the Central Sierra Historical Museum is an outdoor museum located in Shaver Lake, California. The museum prides itself on its mission to “enrich the cultural and educational experiences of visitors to the Sierra Nevada Mountains, by deepening their understanding of the human and natural history of this area.”

The museum has five outdoor exhibits, within which there are approximately 2,000 historical artifacts from the Central Sierra area. An average of 10,000 people visit the museum each year to tour the site or to take part in the educational programs offered.

To produce the the videos for the museum, Egan, Tahir and Nigg traveled to the Shaver area last August for an overnight trip. Operating under the MCJ Multimedia Production Service, the camera crew brought along two video cameras, a boom mic and an audio recorder.

The trio recorded video of the different sites across the museum grounds as well as interviews, performances and educational presentations from the site. They also recorded a good deal of audio in each location including audio tours of the areas, for which the app is named.

Nigg, who handled the boom mic and audio recorder during production, said that the experience was both challenging and rewarding.

“The most valuable aspect of working on this project was getting to learn about the Sierras and find creative ways to capture that information for the app. We filmed several parts of the museum and each one had unique features we wanted to highlight. I enjoyed the opportunity to collaborate with my professor and fellow students on how to capture each piece that would best serve the app’s purpose and give users a unique experience. This project was unlike any other I’ve been part of. It was challenging and rewarding in many ways and I loved learning more about the mountains that are basically in my backyard.”

The app opens with an introductory video, after which users can browse through an interactive map of the museum grounds. Each location on the map is accompanied by audio and video elements relevant to the location, such as interviews, performances and audio tours that take place there.

The museum plans to continue to build on the app, adding new locations to their interactive map in the near future, though they acknowledge that the app’s conception would not have been possible without the help of the Fresno State team.

Lisa Crain, executive director of the Central Sierra Historical Society and Museum, said she was thrilled with the work the students performed for the new app.

“Candace Egan and the students were all wonderful to work with. I think they were the perfect choice for this job since they weren’t yet familiar with the museum, like many of our first time visitors and those that will now be using the app. Having a fresh look allowed them to create videos that explained our mission and exhibits in a way that is extremely user friendly and still informative. I think they did a wonderful job and I’m thrilled with the finished project.”

To download the app on Android devices through Google Play, click here.

To download the app on Apple devices through the Apple Store, click here.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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