Since time immemorial, nerds have been listing things and memorizing them for fun. 2,000 years ago, the Roman writer Pliny the Elder published his Natural History, in which he neatly provides a working catalog of the material world, covering everything from asteroids and volcanoes to the types of hummingbirds and the medicinal uses of cabbage. Today, Wikipedia does a similar job, providing its users with databases of animals with fraudulent diplomas or authoritative lists of people who have lived at airports. People like memorizing things, it would seem, even when there is no external pressure to do so. Seeking to satisfy this eternal human craving for carefree, breezy learning, we are proud to announce Brooklyn Museum’s partnership with the educational start-up Duolingo and their new digital platform, Tinycards. Tinycards is an iOS app that allows the user to learn virtually anything that involves memorization, using a familiar learning method: flashcards.
Although the idea of asking people to spend time memorizing things (with only a broad educational purpose in mind) might at first seem unusual, it is in fact similar to what we do daily as a modern, encyclopedic art museum: Our visitors are invited to explore curated displays of a very wide variety of objects and to learn visual and textual information about them, and perhaps build up their competence and comfort level in a particular area. Engaging with visitors through the ASK Brooklyn Museum app, we experience first-hand the pride visitors feel when they successfully identify a Frank Lloyd Wright chair, Kehinde Wiley painting, or Dogon sculpture by sight alone.
So far,we have already published our first two decks: Famous Faces of Ancient Egypt and Seven Common Buddhist Gestures (Mudras). The ASK team will continue to work with curators to provide a variety of content for users of different educational backgrounds and interests to enjoy. We will publish new decks every two weeks, so follow us on Tiny Cards and get memorizing!
Roko Rumora is the Marketing and Communications Assistant (and former ASK Team Member) at Brooklyn Museum. He graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Art History and studied Classical Archaeology at Oxford. His academic research focuses on the visual culture of Ancient Rome and Renaissance Europe. Professionally, Roko is particularly passionate about digital transformation projects in the cultural sector. In his native Croatia, he is recognized as a public advocate for education reform and LGBT rights.