#Remixtheship

I was lucky enough to be on Mar’s team having a look around HMS Belfast a couple of weeks ago ahead of #remixtheship. Veteran of two museomixes, and an OCL kids remix project, I am, as always excited to see what the teams are going to come up with and slightly nervous about the sleep deprivation!

I won’t actually be remixing anything over the weekend, I’ll be busy spreading the good word, chatting to the teams and the coaches, recording what is going on, smiling at people and generally doing Mar’s bidding. This hasn’t stopped me thinking about what I might remix and having a peek into the history of the beautiful HMS Belfast. Here are a few ideas…

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I love that Belfast was also an aircraft carrier, with two Supermarine Walrus on board (single engine amphibious bi-plane – see that sounds cool right?) which was launched by a catapult, and the hauled back on deck by a crane. There has got to be a story to tell there right?

Perhaps it I might go more social history and look at life on board for the navy personnel that served on her over her thirty years of service. There are some fabulous mannequin tableaux around the vessel…

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She was involved in some major conflicts from Arctic Convoys to D’Day and then in her later years spent much of her time out in the Far East. Belfast was blown up by a mine early in WW2 and then later shelled during the Korean War but it wasn’t enough to stop her! Plenty of material there.

Belfast is part of the National Historic Ships and the first naval vessel to be saved for the nation since HMS Victory (apparently according to Wikipedia). Most of all it is a really cool space, which is nothing like we have remixed before, so come on join a team and sign up today!

Oh and if you want to know what being part of #remixtheship is going to be like? Well it’ll be like nothing else! You will forge friendships in moments, probably want to kill someone or throw a piece of kit or all your kit out of the window/porthole/off the deck, mainly live off sugar and caffeine, get up early, go to bed late and have one of the greatest experiences of your life (hopefully) It will be the most creative and frustrating couple of days and in this case you get to play on a big ship! So what are you waiting for?   

Sign up here http://opencommunitylab.co.uk/

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A visit to ‘States of Mind’ at the Wellcome Collection

I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the ‘Drinks Thing’ at the Wellcome Collection last week and as part of the event we were some of the first people to visit the States of Mind exhibit.

For those who don’t know me in real life, I have anxiety and a fear of the unknown so entering a room that appeared to be full of fog, where you could hardly see your hand in front of your face did rather freak me out. However, as well as being frightened I am also rather determined not to let my anxiety stop me doing stuff, so I manned up, hung the identification tag around my neck and stepped through the airlock into the fog…

I was greeted by the fog, coloured lights and the sounds of other people exploring, footsteps and the chatter of groups exploring together. I decided for my sanity, I would stick to the walls so I could find my way out again. I spent a few minutes walking around the room, fingertips brushing the wall for security until I’d walked my way around the room and back to the doors. The inquisitive bit of my brain said “but what if you have missed something big in the middle, that’s really cool?” So I boldly crossed the rooms arms outstretched zombiesque and explored the rest of the space.

After a few minutes you begin to adjust to the atmosphere and limited vision and I could appreciate the colours and sounds that make up the exhibit.

Foggy Selfie!
Foggy Selfie!

I decided later that I wanted to go in again and get some pictures/video. My second experience was totally different, not only was I no longer scared but I was in there all on my own. It felt completely different to the first visit. I am hoping to visit again soon and take a friend, I am sure it will feel different again.

https://instagram.com/p/86MULTjVAy/?taken-by=sudnipics – my video of walking through the space.

Just a final note so say that the room is monitored with infra-red cameras, just to check folk are behaving themselves! I was allowed a little peek at the camera feed and was fascinated by the different ways people approached negotiating the space, alone or in groups. We even caught a couple having a little kiss!!

Bolton Museum – My Museum Memories

As a child Bolton Museum was our local. The museum is housed in a lovely Neo-Classical Crescent of imposing sandstone. The building houses an aquarium in the basement – as a child spotting the one eyed piranha was the highlight of any trip! The central library on the ground floor and then a museum with 3 main galleries on the top floor.

Childhood highlights for the museum was obviously the Egyptian display complete with Mummies! Closely followed by the gallery full of Taxidermy – obviously displaying animals of the world. I have since discovered this was is a mainstay of many local museums in the early 1980’s. I was slightly surprised that on a visit to New York’s Natural History Museum in 2010 they also had a gallery full of stuffed beasts which was very reminiscent of my visits to Bolton Museum in the 1980’s!

I remember my Mum taking my sister and I to the Museum quite a few times, sometimes with friends and at least once with my Granny. I also recall my Grandpa taking us once in the summer holidays. I have spoken before about the importance of my childhood exposure to museums and heritage which has grown my love for all things old and musty! There was obviously the obligatory school trip to the museum. I think we were learning about either Greeks or Romans and we sat in a theatre and there was dressing up involved! In my teens I remember taking myself and my friend Kat to see an exhibition on 20th century design, which included the same dinner service my parents had got as a wedding present. I also had a weird teenage date looking at the fish in the aquarium!

Bolton Museum had rarely crossed my mind since until it hit the headlines in 2011 for selling a portion of it’s painting collection to raise money to repair the storage depot.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-14078290

In these times of austerity these are the difficult decisions that have to be taken, and it is only with better funding and support for these types on institution that will ensure their survival for the next generation. In one simple phrase, use it, donate to it or lose it!

Earlier this year we had to have a tyre repaired on our car whilst visiting relatives in Bolton. These things are never straight forward are they? So we took the short walk into town to kill some time while we waited for the repair to be done. On a cold March morning we sought refuge in the Museum. I will be honest I was really happy with what I found! After the whole cash strapped headlines, I was expecting nothing to have changed since my last visit in the late 1990’s but I was greeted by a really interesting and informative modern exhibition on the history of Bolton.

The stuffed creatures were no longer on display (maybe they are all in the newly repaired stores!) and had been replaced by a detailed history of the emergence and growth of my home town. Once more, there were quite a few visitors including families, the next generation of museum professionals perhaps! I have been trying to convince my 91 year old Grandfather to visit, being Bolton born and bred I imagine there will be a lot of memories brought back seeing the various exhibits covering everything from Mill workers to Bolton Wanderers football team.

Signs of Bolton!
Signs of Bolton!

I didn’t get chance to look at the Egyptology exhibit as the mobile rang and it was time to collect the car, but Bolton Museum, I will be back next time I’m in the area to sample the rest of the delights you have to offer.

 

Here’s more about me and what I do http://www.seirtsudni.co.uk

Brighton Museum – Knowing your audience

A few weeks ago we decided to treat ourselves to a day out in Brighton. It was one of those early spring days when the sun just starts to warm the earth but you need you woolly hat on and lead boots to stop you being blown off the pier!

We visit Brighton fairly regularly, about once a year to enjoy the slightly alternative culture. Being great lovers of food, there are lots of places with interesting and less conventional things to eat. After negotiating the train, filling ourselves with a pre-industrial lunch at http://silobrighton.com/ we had a stroll along the pier and viewed some vegetarian shoes. At this point mid afternoon, you either have to commit yourself to another activity or think about getting the train back before the rush hour. We decided on the former and strolled into Brighton Museum.

We were greeted in a friendly manner, handed a map and pointed in the direction of 20th Century design. Looking at the map, it appeared Brighton Museum covered a very broad range of subjects from Mr Willett’s Popular Pottery to Egyptology and Fashion and Style. Intriguing.

 

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Beautiful architecture of the Art and Design Gallery
Beautiful features in the tiled walls
Beautiful features in the tiled walls

We made our way through 20th Century design, I sat on a bench in a beautifully tiled corridor to take the weight off my feet. I had a look around and found a lovely looking children’s activity leaflet. I am always keen to take a look at these as from a professional point of view for new ideas, and from a personal point of view they offer a different way to look at the exhibition. I then noticed there was another brightly coloured guide for a LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) trail. Linking objects with LGBTQ connections. I have never seen a leaflet in a museum linked to a visitor profile like this, but I guess in the gay capital of the UK there is definite market for this as much as there is for families.

Leaflets to appeal to the different visitor profiles
Leaflets to appeal to the different visitor profiles

Taking both leaflets we ambled around the museum. I loved the timeline of visitors and visitor attractions of Brighton, from dippers who basically threw you in the sea, then Mods and Rockers and the bad press they got, right through to the Hen Parties and Clubs of today. It showed how Brighton had reinvented itself over the years. I was also a big fan of the fashion and style section, a good combination of new and old and covering lots of areas of society, once again embracing Brighton’s more alternative culture.

A stuffed otter reclining on it's rock in the Spotlight Gallery, highlighting the affect of human beings on the environment
A stuffed otter reclining on it’s rock in the Spotlight Gallery, highlighting the affect of human beings on the environment

By this time, we were in need of an afternoon cup of tea and just managed to make the purchase before the Cafe closed for the day. We sat in the gallery watching others enjoy the exhibition space.

I was really impressed with Brighton Museum, it seemed to me it really knew it’s audience, families, locals and day trippers. It told it’s story well, in a simple, easy style. Next time I’m back in Brighton I’ll come back to enjoy the beautiful building and the bits we missed and leave more time for tea and cake!