Today was ‘One Day in History’, a campaign by History Matters to get everyone blogging their day for it to be archived in perpetuity by the British Library. See http://www.historymatters.org.uk/ Interesting how, with the internet, history is so much more about everyone’s story, and the mundanity and specificity of life. The idea is that precious grand narratives can be woven out the billions of threads of banal information because it’s all tagged and searchable. It’s all part of the British Library’s programme to archive websites, because of course they change constantly, so if we don’t capture screenshots of the future form of publishing at regular intervals masses of information will be lost to posterity. Well, I thought I’d log my day’s blog in my own blog too, so to speak, with apologies for its banality, because it might raise some interesting thoughts about how we live, record, remember and narrate our history:
The morning was more autumnal than usual – I went in the garden to take photos of snail trails snaking over the greenhouse roof, pumpkins and orange ivy.
Megan (6) told a stunning story over breakfast, that she had dreamed up. It was about how the gods had become one from many. An explosion in the clouds killed all the gods but Ineks. The skeleton of Hirajo fell on Ineks and he struggled for months to push it off. Then he dug and dug and dug a hole in the clouds until he reached down to earth. When on Earth, he met some children and they changed his name to Imax and introduced him to computer games. It descended into less mythical territory and dragged from that point on. Then she went off to school skooting down the hill at 1 minute to 9. I worked for an hour, building a website allowing mapping of places for creative and cultural learning. (Coming soon on http://www.playce.org.uk/ ) But I took most of the day off work to help my daughter’s school on a day trip. Class 2G are exploring two linked topics, buildings and the Great Fire of London. On the way in, on the bus, we noticed that the concrete octagon behind County Hall was being demolished (at last), spotted the Houses of Parliament, saw a Japanese couple being snapped in full wedding regalia in front of Westminster Abbey (who are they kidding!). The children had been talking about how Whitehall had been a giant palace and how Trafalgar Square had been a big courtyard of stables for it.
In the National Gallery, after an early lunch (essential for little ones) we looked at 17th century Dutch paintings by Pieter de Hooch, Molenaer, Rembrandt and Italian paintings e.g. by Crivelli, noticing materials, patterns and details of buildings. I’m afraid the lady that ‘took us round’ could have been more sparky and alert to the children’s desires to give their own interpretations. I can’t help being critical as it is my profession. The children did manage to squeeze in some great observations though. (‘Why is there a flying gold pole in the sky?’) Afterwards we made drawings, trying to sketch the lines, shapes and patterns, not just the people and animals.
We had a quick look at buildings and materials in Trafalgar Square, including the bright white marble of Alison Lapper Pregnant by Marc Quinn on the ‘fourth plinth’. Then we took the long bendy bus back to school.
A little later, back at home with tea, I worked some more at the computer and Megan watched a DVD. Her hilarious screams of laughter reassured me it was OK to work. My husband cooked dinner – baked sweet potato and moussaka – and we ate together. As we’d been looking at paintings and buildings, including those beautifully lit domestic Dutch interiors, I couldn’t help looking at our house in terms of light, perspective, pattern and detail.
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.