Miriam Posner’s “Museums in the Digital Age” class at UCLA in the winter quarter of 2016, offered students the opportunity to create an exhibition within the Young Research Library’s Special Collections based on the George P. Johnson Negro Film Archive. I served on the interpretive design team with two others. While we worked closely with the curation team and assisted in the selection of objects for the exhibition, we were primarily responsible for honing the approach to the exhibition proposed by curation. After two quarters of work, the resulting exhibition was entitled The Industry of Uplift: Silent Race Film, The Lincoln Motion Picture Company and George P. Johnson.


We worked to create representations that touch on the influential yet often uncredited history of the Lincoln Motion Picture Company, the first successful all-black owned race film company 1916-1923. The work of Noble Johnson, his brother George Johnson, and a group of black artists and producers changed the way black performers and audiences alike were perceived by mainstream Hollywood. The success of these films proved that not only were black audiences hungry for great content that included dignified representations of black life; but that they were willing to turn out in force when these movies made their way into black communities. Producer, distributor, and bookkeeper George Johnson meticulously archived 71 boxes of material related to the silent race film genre and then the role of African-American artists in all forms of creative media until giving his files over to UCLA in the 1970's. As the first formal exhibition of the collection, it sought to emphasize the group of artists who were pioneers not only of Black Cinema, but of Hollywood itself.


The three main themes of the physical exhibition were: the Johnson Brothers, The Lincoln Motion Picture Company, and Contributors to Silent Race Film. For the companion digital exhibition, we decided on the more overarching theme of legacy. The digital exhibition includes photos and documents of the Johnson Family and also expands on the accomplishments of African Americans in film (specifically on the actors, actresses and other silent race films in that era). With over 50 years’ worth of material, George P. Johnson collected a vast amount of content; however, we envisioned the digital companion site to serve extension of the themes that were already laid out in the physical exhibition and not as a digital repository for the rest for the collection.


As part of the digital exhibition, I created the 360 panoramic tour. This remains a digital experience of the physical exhibit, where users can navigate the space through linked 360 photographs that are annotated with hot spots. We had hoped to add to the tour as the items within the exhibition were digitized in order to fill it out in more detail. In the current design, the tour navigates users from case to case, providing annotations of the case descriptions so that people can get a sense of what was displayed and see how it was arranged. The hope was to give this exhibition a wider audience than just those who can show up in person to see it displayed in special collections.


Additionally, I am working with Dr. Patricia Greenfield to create a second 360 panoramic tour of her traveling exhibition “Weaving Generations Together: Evolving Creativity of the Maya of Chiapas.” The exhibition examines the teaching, learning, and practice of weaving over nearly half a century through Dr. Greenfield’s with several families in the region. By documenting an exhibition that focuses on a culture in transition, I will have the opportunity to address how technology can help in the display of non-Western art, but also be critical as to the stratum technology can create in terms of class and communities.


As a psychologist in culture and human development, the examples that I will gain from working with Dr. Greenfield will allow for me to no only address the concerns of creating digital resources that can be used for teaching, but also the considerations that are essential when working with and representing indigenous or non-western communities. In assessing the needs of the tour and the goals for its design, I will be able parlay into considering the work of other’s like Lucy Walker’s 360 documentary “A History of Cuban Dance” or Nonny de la Peña’s “Project Syria.”




Samsung Gear 360, Pano2VR, Google Tour Creator





JANUARY 2017 – JUNE 2017

The Industry of UPLIFT - Exhibition Opening Speaker

UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library Special Collections

 Pauline Brooks, PhD