Finding a New Homeand a Community

Museology and MHCI+D relocate — and collaborate

On the corner of 45th Street and 15th Avenue, in the former home of the Alumni Association, two fee-based, interdisciplinary graduate programs — Museology and Human-Computer Interaction + Design — have found a new home.

Sandra Janusch

The new home for the Museology and MHCI+D graduate programs sits on the corner of 15th Avenue and 45th Street.

And, as with the best relocations, both tenants have enjoyed their new neighbors.

“We have a ‘borrow a cup of sugar’ type of relationship with MHCI+D,” said Maya Farrar, assistant director of operations for the Museology Graduate Program.”

Farrar and Mary Larson, the associate director of academic services for MHCI+D and former UWC² manager for the museology program, have known each other for more than 10 years. The friendship between the two coupled with the proximity between their programs — they are the only two UW programs in the former Alumni House — have allowed for collaboration on logistical and administrative projects, especially because both are fee-based, interdisciplinary programs.  

“This morning, I delivered mail to them, and they were showing me a new microphone that they bought,” Larson said. “That’s really useful because we can both use that. The whiteboards that we bought for the shared student space, we just split the cost of. It’s good for all of us. It’s more brains working together.”

“We’ve known each other for a long time, so just being neighbors has been really fun,” Farrar said. “Even though our programs have not yet collaborated academically, we have definitely collaborated on the operations side of things.”

Since museology moved in on Jan. 4, the partnership between the two programs has transformed the four-floor building into a dynamic collaborative space complete with work stations, lockers, classrooms, staff and faculty offices, a kitchenette and 24/7 access via key fob for students.

This student-centric, collaborative space was a priority for both programs, who wanted to create convenient and welcoming spaces for their students to learn and work. Museology in particular wanted to emphasize a student space after not having one for the past five years.

student

A student in the Master of Human-Computer Interaction and Design program works on a project in MHCI+D’s newly revamped studio space.

By having student workspace in the same building as faculty, staff and advisers, Farrar believes the new location has fostered a sense of community within the museology program.

“We love the tower, but it’s been nice to build a stronger sense of identity within the group since we’ve moved,” Farrar said. “Being here gives  us a better sense of what students are doing — we run into them in the hallway, when they’re going to study or when they come in from advising. Ultimately, for us this is about a program identity.”

Larson echoed Farrar’s thoughts on the more communal feel within MHCI+D since the program moved its student design studio and classroom to the Alumni House two years ago and its offices there at the end of last year.

“It’s much more cohesive with our students,” Larson said. “Personally, I’m really excited about the space because I think it really matches our values. It’s been really good to have our own space because that’s part of the unique experience that we’re offering: a design studio experience and a cohesive identity for each cohort.”

MHCI+D undertook some renovation of its second-floor classroom and design studio area, tearing down multiple walls to turn what were conference rooms into a larger open area that allowed for more students and a larger cohort for the upcoming school year.

“We’re able to expand the size of the cohort by 20 percent because of having more space,” Larson said. 

Larson sums up the feeling of many in MHCI+D and Museology when she talks about the two programs’ new shared space.

“It’s been phenomenal — it’s just fantastic for us,” Larson said. “We’re all really happy.”