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Archive for November, 2010|Monthly archive page

Hands on History – in pictures

In Museums, new content on November 22, 2010 at 11:15 am

There are some photographs from the current BBC travelling exhibition I worked on this year now available online.

The creative team came who developed the concept for how the pop-up-shops would work consisted of the 3D designer and space expert Debbie Bartlett and event curator and pop-up-shop expert Kath Cockshaw. The three of us recently made a visit to one of the stops on the tour in Chatham, Kent and pictures of the installation there are available online now at Debbie’s website.

The exhibition had a few days rest this week as it was Children in Need, but over the coming weeks you can find the exhibition in five more locations:

Paisley (25-27 November)
Sunderland (26-28 November)

Bradford (3-5 December)
Louth (3-5 December)

Armagh (9-11 December)

Full details of the addresses and opening times are available from the BBC Hands on History website. Meanwhile, the BBC TV series Turn Back Time: The High Street continues on Tuesday evenings on BBC 1 at 9pm.

Evolving English

In Museums, new content on November 11, 2010 at 5:49 pm

A new exhibition opens at the British Library tomorrow, all about the English language. I was involved in the project as a consultant, earlier this year. I wasn’t working on the content for the exhibition – I was undertaking what’s known as ‘formative’ evaluation on the exhibition prospect – research into what people would expect in an exhibition about the English language and testing out some ideas they had for how the exhibition might be put together.

It was also a chance for the library to show people the design concept and to test it out on potential visitors. It’s a good idea sometimes to take a step back and ask someone who has no involvement in the project what they think of your plans. And it’s often a very useful exercise.

After chairing some focus groups (in March 2010) I then fed back to the library with a series of conclusions about how the exhibition was perceived at that time. The British Library has been putting the finishing touches to their exhibition in the meantime and the resulting show opens tomorrow morning. I’ll be there – perhaps not tomorrow, but soon – to see what’s been going on behind the scenes and what the exhibition has in store for us.

Evolving English is at the British Library 12 November 2010 – 3 April 2011.
There’s also a great quiz on the BL website, where you can test how much you know about our language.

Lambeth Palace wordle

In Museums on November 9, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Earlier this year I wrote an audioguide for the library at Lambeth Palace in London. It was part of a temporary exhibition running over the summer, displaying some of the treasures from the collection they hold there. From some of the oldest Bibles in the country to Henry VIII’s handwriting and many other gems, it was a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of one of one of the most intriguing collections I’ve worked with over the years.

I decided to put the script of the audioguide into the word-cloud making website wordle.net, to see what the most commonly used words are. There are some likely characters in there which you’d suspect of finding in a library of ecclesiastical material, but also some more peculiar terms.

Wordle: Lambeth Palace Library

(It’s not the greatest image in the world, but click on the picture and it’ll take you to the wordle site.)

Overhauling the Imperial War Museum

In Museum [Insider], Museums, new content on November 5, 2010 at 9:09 am

There are plans afoot to change the way visitors interact with the collection at the Imperial War Museum, London.

The IWM are currently in a master planning process with Foster + Partners, who are providing the museum with ideas about how to redevelop the public galleries at the Lambeth Road site. The aim is to reopen the First World War galleries (which were last udpated in the early 90s) in time for the national commemoration of the start of the conflict in 2014. They’d then work on the Second World War and other galleries over the following years.

There’s a piece about the plans on Museum [Insider].

What’s next for museum education?

In Museum [Insider], Museums, new content on November 4, 2010 at 8:28 am

The way education services in museums are run has changed enormously over time. From clipboards and photocopied worksheets to interactive whiteboards and sophisticated mechanisms for measuring learning. As a sector we are able to articulate what we want people to learn when they interact with a museum – at the museum, on their computer or in their school – and we have the tools to plan how to achieve this.

We’ve also made huge leaps and bounds in terms of access to museums and their collections, widening audiences and encouraging a new generation of museum visitors.

Like an impatient schoolchild, the education sector doesn’t like to sit still for long. It always wants to move on and find new ways of working.

So I asked myself, and a few others, what we think the future is for museum education. What’s next on the agenda?

I spoke to Samantha Heywood (Director of Learning and Interpretation at the Imperial War Museum), Gillian Wolfe (Director of Learning at Dulwich Picture Gallery) and Viv Golding (a lecturer and museum learning expert at the Univesity of Leicester’s Department of Museum Studies) and asked them what they thought was coming next.

Their answers make for interesting reading, in a features article on Museum [Insider].

5.3 million tune in to Turn Back Time

In what i'm reading on November 3, 2010 at 4:24 pm

5.3 million people watched the opening programme in the BBC’s new timeshift documentary Turn Back Time: The High Street, according to a ratings article in The Guardian.

But what did the critics make of it?

Tom Sutcliffe, writing in The Independent, thought it was a fun history lesson, but it sounds like the jury is still out for Lucy Mangan in The Guardian, who seems to have warmed to the participants in the programme, but not the concept itself.

Memorable TV likes the concept. Liam Tucker, writing for TV Pixie, thought the show was going to be tedious, but ended up being rather absorbed by the historical commentary.

And, oh dear, the Metro didn’t like it.

So it didn’t get panned, but it didn’t get raved about. I don’t suppose it’s ever going to take on the X-factor in terms of ratings, but to get over 5 million people to watch a social history programme on a Wednesday evening is pretty good going, if you ask me. Let’s hope all of them don’t turn up at the pop-up-shops we’ve built around the country! After a good start in the south west last weekend, the exhibitions are on the road to Clacton and Chatham ready to open on Friday.

Pizza, cholocalte and telly

In Uncategorized on November 3, 2010 at 3:55 pm

The results of a BBC survey out today have revealed that the three things that make us most happy in Britain today are pizza, chocolate and the television.

I’m not sure I agree with that entirely, and this little video on the BBC website seems to indicate that people also derive a sense of well being from many other factors in life, such as family, friends, the weather and even happiness itself. And the usual things as well – holiday, money, winning lottery etc.

What makes you happy?
Take a look at my ongoing reserach project in the nature of modern happiness for more inspiration.