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Hammer Museum launches new video platform

The Hammer Museum has launched a new video platform, Hammer Channel, offering more than a thousand conversations with artists, writers, filmmakers, scholars, scientists, activists and more. New programs will be added weekly as part of the Hammer’s decades-long commitment to presenting programs on topics ranging from politics and current events to literary readings to film screenings and artist talks.

Hammer Channel offers innovative tools to search, clip, and share not only the programs themselves but precise moments within.

“The Hammer’s legacy of programs is as much a cornerstone of our mission as our exhibitions,” said Hammer Museum director Ann Philbin. “Hammer Channel puts that legacy right up front, giving audiences access to the full breadth and depth of our talks, performances, and much more.”

Organised much like a streaming service, Hammer Channel offers a wide variety of video content organised by categories including art, social justice, film, books, politics, the environment and more. Hammer Channel’s powerful search allows users not only to search by topic or title, but within transcripts of the videos themselves. A search for a person or topic will include results in which that term is discussed during a program — and will bring users to the very moment within that video when the term was used. Full transcripts are included with every video, allowing for greater accessibility and searchability. Additionally, Hammer Channel’s unique clipping tool allows users to create and share clips of their favourite moments within a program. Hammer Channel was developed in collaboration with digital agency Cogapp.

As part of the Mellon-funded project, the underlying source code and technical documentation is available on the open-source platform GitHub. The complexity and cost of developing digital tools and systems can be a major barrier for museums and other nonprofit organisations; by providing documentation of the Hammer Channel to open-source communities, other institutions worldwide may adopt, adapt, and advance their own initiatives.

The Hammer Museum has been broadcasting its programs online since 2014. As the global COVID-19 pandemic forced museums to close in 2020, the Hammer quickly shifted its programs fully online, presenting tours, conversations, screenings and more every week. Since April 2020, the Hammer has presented more than 140 programs online, viewed live by more than 45,000 people worldwide, plus tens of thousands more views after the fact. Hammer Channel offers a convenient and comprehensive site for viewers to experience the Hammer Museum’s variety of offerings, whether catching up with the most recent program or taking a deep dive into a particular subject.

Artists featured on Hammer Channel include Laurie Anderson, John Baldessari, Mark Bradford, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, rafa esparza, Charles Gaines, Theaster Gates, Lauren Halsey, Sarah Lucas, Catherine Opie, Charles Ray, Pedro Reyes, Ed Ruscha and Kara Walker. Past programs on topics such as the environment, immigration, anti-racism, and other current events include panelists such as Vice President Al Gore, Congressman Ted Lieu, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, Anita Hill, Ibram X. Kendi, Naomi Klein and others. Hammer Channel also includes conversations and readings by writers such as Joan Didion, Roxane Gay, Joy Harjo, Sadiya Hartman, Stan Lee, Viet Thanh Nguyen and Tara Westover. Conversations with Academy Award-winning actors and filmmakers include Bong Joon-Ho, Werner Herzog, Steve McQueen, Lupita Nyong’o, Jordan Peele, Quentin Tarantino, Olivia Wilde and more.

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