2020-2021​ Team

Graduate Students

Our Project

Opportunity Space

During the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 90% of museums globally were closed as a measure to limit the spread of the virus (United Nations News, 2020). In addition to a profound public health crisis, the impact of the epidemic on a museum’s revenue base has been significant.

Many have experienced extreme setbacks and laid off staff. Some have even closed forever (Tully, 2020). Many museums will not recover from the financial losses caused by the global shutdown. The American Alliance of Museums estimates one-third of museums will permanently close in the United States alone.  

90% of museums closed globally during the pandemic.

Project Focus

How might we leverage the rich storytelling potential of the DLLE collection to create a collaborative and social experience for audiences who cannot gather in physical spaces?



To address this question, DLLE students focused research efforts on COVID-19’s effect on museum engagement by exploring how interactive web design can enhance presentation of the Letterman Collection. Research led to the design and development of Thanks for Laughing, an immersive virtual museum experience that is accessible from any location.


Thanks for Laughing was inspired by a “choose your own adventure” storytelling strategy, providing users with multiple options for navigating and exploring content on a web experience. Users can explore four “rooms,” or exhibition spaces, focused on different topics relevant to Dave’s life and career, as well as artifacts from the Letterman Collection. The four rooms are the Art of the Interview, American Humor, the Dot Tile, and an Ed Sullivan Theater VR Tour. 

Edited image of David Letterman on stage with his band.

American Humor Room

American Humor revolves around some of the most prestigious awards Dave won throughout his tenure on late night television, including the Kennedy Center Honors and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.

Headshots of David Letterman

The Art of the Interview

The Art of the Interview explores many of the iconic interviews Dave took part in throughout his career, and also highlights some of the more memorable guests he shared time with during his career on air.

The dot tile is where Dave would stand on stage during his monologue during his show.

American Humor Room

The Dot Tile explores an artifact left behind in the Ed Sullivan Theater when Stephen Colbert took over the theater after Dave’s retirement, and tells a unique story about Colbert settling into the Ed Sullivan Theater and making it his own.

The stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater

American Humor Room

The Studio Tour room is a tour of the Ed Sullivan Theater, recreated to replicate the theater design and layout during Dave’s career. Throughout the VR experience, there are interaction points with unique stories about the theater, Dave’s crew and production, and more.