Chris Cummings, Founder & CEO, Pass It Down

Pass It Down is an award-winning digital storytelling platform licensed to cities, libraries, and museums to create a way to collect, preserve, and showcase their stories and archives. It’s an all-in-one platform giving clients the ability to showcase their stories across any phone, tablet, computer, or kiosk to create interactive exhibits and experiences for their users.

Chris Cummings, Founder & CEO of Pass It Down, was generous enough to share his time to discuss his growing company, how it evolved into what it is today, how they continue to improve their platform, and hinted upon some exciting features which are coming in the future.

Chris discussed the value of building a good team when starting a new company and performing market research. He also mentioned how important it is to spend time outside the office talking to customers than inside of it. Chris and his team took the time to; listen and ask questions; work with curators, oral history professionals and experts in the field; learned methodology and best practices; developed user personas and performed user testing. Owing to client and user feedback, Pass It Down has created an intergenerational design for people of all ages to use their storytelling platform.

The company’s passion goes beyond preserving and sharing stories but to also see the smiles on their user’s faces. Observing their users, ages 5-85 years old, interacting with their kiosks within museums and exploring and be wowed by their experience is important to their growing company.

Some key highlights from our discussion were that their storytelling platform is empowering museums to have control they never had before. Chris argued that previously, museum technology was designed to organize a collection but was never meant to make them publicly available or engaging to the public. At Pass It Down, they are big believers in evolving collections, it is not enough to just save history, it needs to be shared. By marrying those two principles together, they’ve constructed a platform that creates an interactive experience for the public and showcases what’s most relevant, when it’s most relevant, so people find something of value. Pass It Down is helping museums to turn their visitors into participants, forming a bond with their users.

As Chris mentioned it’s a newer company and there’s a lot of work to do, but they are getting there. They already have requests from nine countries to use their platform in different languages, are engaged in new and exciting projects in multiple cities, are expanding their reach globally, and improving their storytelling platform every step of the way.  I believe in Pass It Down’s mission and passion. They are helping to save our world’s history and I look forward to following their progress.


  1. Wendy Tribaldos says:

    Like Chris, I believe in the value of teamwork to successfully build a company. I also wholeheartedly agree that any museum looking to build up digital engagement must know who their audience is, what their expectations are and how to build on their experience to fully engage them. I also think that many commercial companies inherently provide a better design experience for users, as they can iterate rapidly using customer feedback.

    I do think museums and other cultural institutions should do their homework and carefully review and benchmark both commercial and open source software to figure out what serves best their mission, their resources, and their audience needs.

  2. Asia Folk says:

    This sounds like a really exciting opportunity/program for museums to participate in. I especially like how it is geared towards providing those chances for the “typical user” to add something to the museum’s collections. As Chris stated, we are often stuck on this idea of preserving history, but museums should also want to create history along with their changing audience to show how each generation has different needs and what needs to be done to cater to these needs.

  3. Mallory Spann says:

    Pass It Down sounds like such a great project! Storytelling is such a wonderful way to engage museum audiences. Museum visits can become large building with cabinets of curiosities without the proper context. Using stories gives visitors a little personal investment in the collections that they are using. I especially liked the greeting card project he described. Being able to record personal memories and save them to a card creates heirlooms that will be cherished for years to come both for their sentimentality and the history that is captured.

  4. Nicole Negron says:

    This software sounds awesome! I appreciate that they do not just focus on the quantitative data, but want to know what the users are feeling and how they are connecting with the experience on a personal level. I also like how responsive the software is and that it can help create new experiences on a regular basis. What stood out to me in particular is the idea of creating an intergenerational design. This software will work well with exactly the kind of projects grandparents want to do with their grandchildren and parents with their children. Making it easy to use for multiple generations means reaching a wider audience and frankly sound business practice.

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