What is a tertiary source? Well, we know what primary and secondary sources are: the original object and everything that’s written about it afterwards. A tertiary source is the next step removed. It is the the physical or digital shell that holds and conveys the two: a book page, a museum gallery, a conversation.

The Tertiary Source Project began as a series of what-ifs. These were thought experiments, meditating on new techniques and technologies without budgets, copyright restrictions, or logistical hurdles. The goal was  to investigate how the medium impacts the message.

In 2014, making those ideas a reality became my full time job. I have been working in museum education and technology since 2009, developing interpretive media and educational programs for museums around the country including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Portland Art Museum in Oregon, and now the Portland Museum of Art in Maine. At the PMA, my job is to innovate. I build interpretive spaces, multimedia interactives, train docents, and work with community partners to make exciting things happen in our galleries. Thus, the Tertiary Source Project has expanded to include ideas which have become realities.



Phillippa Pitts earned her B.A. in Art History, Studio Art, and International Relations from Brown University and her M.A. in Art History and Museum Studies from Tufts University. To contact Phillippa, fill out the form below or connect on LinkedIn.


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