My blogging style is like London buses, you wait for ages then four come along at once. I’ve added so few posts lately so was rather shamed to find my blog so blogged. To get motivated to write more on mine I’ve been looking at other people’s blogs.
The best place to look is http://www.museumblogs.org/ – it’s good to see some from museum staff like the Science Museum and the National Museums of Liverpool.
And some funny ones like this list of wierdly specific museums
I like the Museum of Giant Shoes and the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices.
And I was stimulated by this piece about the difference between museums and libraries, in terms of how visitors/users are trusted, in a context of increasing convergence between them. You can see for example from this summary of research by MLA North East http://www.mlanortheast.org.uk/nemlac that the term used for the public is ‘users’, which has never been applied to museums (who use ‘visitors’) and galleries (who tend to use ‘audiences’). There is such a great difference between public libraries and cultural exhibitions & programmes that it is hard to apply the same policies about engaging the public.
This Margate Exodus by Penny Woolcock and many others including Antony Gormley, Brian Eno, Rufus Wainwright etc is wonderful. It’s so rare to come across a project that is so embracing, yet also so well defined and specific to a place. It embraces visual art, performance, ritual, music and film. It embraces a melancholy and a sense of celebration. It embraces an archaic story of a people and a contemporary diversity of people. It’s great to see that Creative Partnerships in Kent is involved in it. I might be able to persuade the family to go, so I’ll add more here if so.
A brief update: I didn’t manage to go as the train journey was so long. But I enjoyed the TV programme about it.
On Saturday, we visited the Hunterian museum in the Royal College of Surgeons in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. http://www.rcseng.ac.uk/museums
It was recently refurbished, beautifully, and is just one of those perfect museum experiences. It is small enough not to be exhausting, rich enough not to be exhausted in one visit. It stretches your thinking about the history of education, about looking and disgust, about the representation of difference and disease, and about museums as curiosity cabinets. It makes you marvel at the skill of surgeons (there’s an interactive where you try your skill at keyhole surgery – impossible!) It offers accessible interactivity (discovery drawers and so on) without spoiling the aesthetic integrity of the displays. There are some really quite shocking objects, for example a realistic model that shows many possible plastic surgery operations. For all its realism, it looks at first glance like a monster. You feel your mind reeling away then control yourself and pull your eyes back to the wounds and distortions to learn more. I was wondering whether many teachers would resist organising a visit there because they would worry about the children’s reactions. I’d be interested to know how school groups behave there. Our 6 year old daughter has no squeamishness whatsoever but was happy to sit and draw ghostly bats and the Irish giant’s skeleton (see picture). I wonder whether she is completely unsqueamish because she takes after her father (who does lots of anatomical drawing) or because she has become inured by visiting the Bodies exhibition and so many medical museums. It is a little of both perhaps…
Brief update: Flow Associates helped the Hunterian with fundraising for a fantastic project called Exhibiting Difference. This was recently successful so watch this blog for more news as it takes shape.
We went to the launch of the Big Draw, an event called Amazing Space at Somerset House on Sunday. It was extraordinary. The programme of events was so enormous, it would have taken an hour to digest before we’d even started. There were drawing activities not just everywhere you looked but everywhere you didn’t get time to look, throughout all the buildings including Kings College and the Courtauld. As usual, with any summer events around Somerset House, the kids enjoyed running through the fountains most of all. But there was quiet enjoyment of the drawing too. We enjoyed queuing at a booth to have our portraits drawn by an artist (or was it a machine?) hiding inside. We visited Willett & Patterson’s Camera Obscura (http://www.amazingcameraobscura.co.uk ) and we knitted a vast drawing of the building out of recycled cloth strips with giant needles. Oh, and we designed a whole new way of travelling down the Thames in the time it took to eat an ice cream. My best bit was listening to live music while being absorbed in drawing architectural details onto a disc with a turning viewfinder. I was only sorry that we didn’t have time to draw in the galleries. Anyway, we (Flow Associates) have produced some online resources for the Big Draw. http://www.drawingpower.org.uk/menu2.htm
They’re a few of the drawing games of the 85 that we’ve developed. We hope to publish them in a book next year, in time for the next Big Draw. If you have any unusual drawing games you want to share for the book, do send a comment. Do note, we probably have all the familiar ones already.