Archive for November, 2013

Museomix UK 2013

Museomix badge80 people, 3 days, 7 prototypes

From all over Europe 80 people answered the call of Mar Dixon to come together and remix a museum. Anna Brennand, CEO of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust, was brave enough to invite us all to their Coalbrookdale site to think of new ways of interpreting and interacting with The Old Furnace, The Museum of Iron and Enginuity.

After a tour of the site, the first task was to organise this room full of complete strangers in to teams. People were asked to stand up and pitch their ideas for projects and when several projects had been identified, the rest of the participants went up to talk to them and offer them their skills. Each person had a different coloured badge representing their skills. When a team had one of each badge they were ready to go.

What followed was two and a half days of inspiration and perspiration as each team worked on their idea, some abandoning their first idea and starting again, before building a prototype. A Fab Lab had been installed in Enginuity the night before and several of the teams took advantage of the laser cutter, 3D printer and other electronic gadgets. The technicians deserve great praise for all their patience!

My role in all of this was to be a coach, to guide the teams through making decisions, giving feedback on their projects and keeping them on track so that they met their deadlines. There were about eight coaches with all sorts of skills, product designers, graphic designers, experts in digital devices, exhibition designers, evaluators and interpreters. Anne Prugnon from the Science Museum led the coaches and enlightened us in the ways of Museomix.  If I took nothing else away from the weekend, I learned a lot from my fellow coaches.

By Sunday morning each team had a prototype. Every team had produced something that could have actually found its way in to the museum with a bit more time and money. I was really impressed. By Sunday afternoon these prototypes were on display to the public! Miriea Bes and I worked on making a guided tour for the visitors to telling them a bit about Museomix and to put the prototypes in to context. The tour guides, Shane, Gillian, Tamsin and Michelle worked at museum but were also part of the teams. They were exhausted but did a great job showing the visitors around.

While we were busy in Shropshire the Museomix event was also happening at four locations in France and one in Canada. Each evening we would see some video clips of what was happening in these other places.

I feel I have barely touched the surface of everything that happened at Museomix in these few paragraphs. If you would like to know more about the teams and protoypes and the ethos of Museomix, it is well documented on line. Follow these links to find out more:

A few days later Mar sent out an email thanking us all and asking if we would do it all again next year. The answer is yes! Will I see you there too?

TEDx Youth@TyneBridge

I went to my first TED talk this week. It was very interesting. The eight speakers had obviously worked hard on their performances. The topics they covered were universal for all young people: the pressure to succeed after finishing University, religion and tolerance, bullying in schools particularly for LGBT teenagers and the future of the male sex. A talk on how the next generation of women will break the glass ceiling for made me smile. It took me right back to when I was 17 and thought that I could change the world by the power of my indignation and passion.

There was also a recorded talk by Adora Svitak a twelve year old child prodigy. It was very powerful. She talked about how being childish has its good points. Children can dream of anything, they don’t have the life experience to make them think “that won’t work” and automatically dismiss an idea out of hand. I think as adults we sometimes need to be reminded to dream and to let ideas grow a little before we crush them with practicalities. Adora’s talk made me promise  myself to make the time to listen to my own children and the children around me so that their dreams don’t get lost in the everyday rush of our lives.