@MarDixon

Passionate about culture. Champion for the next generation of Cultural visitors. Defender of Libraries. Digital, Wearable Tech Enthusiast. Sharing knowledge. Troublemaker and/or advocate, depending on what you need.
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    December 2nd, 2017mardixonCulture, International, Literacy

    In the market for books for children this Christmas season?  I’ve a few recommendations.  I’ve also reached out (via Twitter) and received some recommendations so it’s a variety of solutions!

    Just a friendly reminder that museum memberships for children is also a wonderful gift to receive!  Most if not all museums and galleries internationally have some for of yearly plan which are usually really inexpensive and provide newsletters and updates throughout the year along with discounts when you do visit the museums!

     

    The British Museum – Mummy!
    Publisher Nosy Crow
    Hardback/cardboard
    Age: Pre-school
    Description: Dig in and discover ancient Egypt!  Full of artefacts to spot and name, this friendly story uncovers all kinds of mummies – perfect ancient fun for little ones.

    Very colourful book with activities such as flap ups to look under and and ‘eye spy’ at to use throughout the book.

    The British Museum – 123
    Publisher Nosy Crow
    Hardback/cardboard
    Age: Pre-school
    Description: Discover amazing objects and simple first words in this brilliant country book for curious little ones.

    Very colourful book with a QR code for when the little ones want more information on the objects used in the book.  There is also an index at the back of the book.

    The Sixty-Eight Rooms – Marianne Malone
    Publisher: [Recommended by Seema Rao]
    Paperback
    Age: Children
    Description: [Taken from author’s website]
    Almost everybody who has grown up in Chicago knows about the Thorne Rooms. Housed deep within the Art Institute of Chicago, they are a collection of sixty-eight exquisite – almost eerily realistic miniature rooms. Each of the rooms is designed in the style of a different time and place, and every detail is perfect, from the knobs on the doors to the candles in the candlesticks. Some might even say the rooms are magical.

    Imagine… what if, on a field trip, you discovered a key that allowed you to shrink so that you were small enough to sneak inside and explore the rooms’ secrets? What if you discovered that others had done so before you? And that someone had left something important behind?

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    November 28th, 2017mardixonCulture, theatre

    Thank you to Sue Hillman from It’s Your London for writing this Guest Blog for our DrinksThing evening!

    DrinksThing outings are famous for being in top places combining fun networking with a great experience. I’ve been to Twitter HQ and the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy with them to give you an idea of what I mean. So when the chance to meet new folk and go to the opera came up, I jumped at the chance.

    We met in a nearby pub for a chance to chat to fellow DrinksThing folk and find out what interesting people they are with great jobs in the arts, heritage and museum world. Then we swept across to the Royal Opera House, stopping briefly to enjoy its imposing facade.

    Once in our seats in the Amphitheatre section, we settled in to enjoy a brilliant view of the stage, ceiling and orchestra for Lucia di Lammermoor.

    Donizetti’s tragic opera was given extra punch by the innovative staging but I need to make a slight digression here for those who don’t know the story (spoiler alert) and here is how this production plays it. Loosely based on a novel by Sir Walter Scott, Lucia di Lammermoor is the story of a doomed love affair between Lucia and Edgardo who is the sworn enemy of her brother Enrico. The lovers meet in secret but are discovered by Enrico who is outraged. Edgardo has gone to war but not before the lovers have pledged to marry when he returns. We see Lucia experiencing morning sickness so it seems more than letters were exchanged. Enrico arranges a marriage for Lucia to Arturo and persuades her that Edgardo has been unfaithful . Enrico claims he will be ruined and killed if she does not marry and disregards her feelings completely. She marries Arturo just as Edgardo returns and, enraged, he demands his ring back. On her wedding night Lucia kills Arturo, has a miscarriage and descends to madness, imagining she is marrying Edgardo. Edgardo decides he will die in a duel with Enrico but then learns that Lucia is dying, realises what’s happened, and kills himself to join her in heaven. Phew!

    The staging was brilliant in my view but has split opinions within the RoH going public. The opera is played out in a split screen format so we had 2 rooms, or a room and a graveyard, each taking up half of the stage with action happening simultaneously on both halves throughout This took some concentrating along with reading the very useful surtitles so no drifting off allowed For me this added a rich complexity to the storytelling and more visual entertainment but having looked at a thread about this, some found it distracting and unnecessary – go with it I say!

    The star of the show was Lisette Oropesa playing Lucia, her singing was powerful and had amazing range, especially with those really high notes. This is considered one of opera’s most challenging roles for its technical demands and emotional intensity, particularly during the descent into madness She managed to sing at full emotional power even when laying on the bed and her acting was wonderful. She brought life to every scene she was in and even when she was in the side of the split screen where the singing was not happening, I still wanted to follow what she was doing.

    So, thanks to DrinksThing for a memorable evening: drinks, great networking and world class opera in this iconic venue!

    [Edit to Add:  Huge shout out to Royal Opera House for hosting us and making opera fun!]

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    November 21st, 2017mardixonCulture, International, theatre

    First a massive thank you to Kazi Ruksana Begum from A season of Bangla Drama for hosting the first every #LoveTheatreDay Unconference!  What a day!

    Second, thank you to Zsofia Szendrei for this guest blog on the day:

    What a day of insights!

    From marketing managers, to university professors and “explainers”; from actors and directors to museum curators and museum leaders (and us, aspiring events managers); we were lucky to have a great meeting of diverse backgrounds attend #LoveTheatreDay’s #unconference at the Art Pavillion in association with  Banghra Drama.

    At the heart of it; however, we were all merely a group of theatre enthusiasts, theatre explorers and those who, just so, happened to find themselves seduced by this sector of dreamers at one point and haven’t glanced back since (Mar, I’m looking at you ;P). What brought us together was the openness to go down a path of unknown territory: asking questions that may have no answers (yet). Something perhaps as terrifying as it is thrilling.

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    November 19th, 2017mardixonCulture, International, Personal
    At the end of October I ran a poll on twitter (but shared publicly on my Facebook page also asking a simple (so I thought) question:
    The options on the poll (which is limited to 4 on Twitter Polls):
    • Watch Netflix
    • Go to a museum/gallery
    • See a play/opera
    • Other (Please comment)
    Hindsight is beautiful as we all know as I really should have put something about reading in there but felt ‘Other’ would provide a catchall.
    Surprisingly on Twitter alone there were 501 votes.  Mainly felt originally that ‘my followers’ would skew the results to be (obviously) museums but I have to say a) my followers are diverse from museums/galleries, digital/tech, theatre/opera, publishing/book/libraries, and loads of just fun people that like to chat. Same goes for my Facebook (although add in family, friends and school mates who some I don’t even remember but our school was so small I am sure I know them).

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    November 8th, 2017mardixonCulture, International

    We are working with students from Goldsmith University on the #LoveTheatreDay Un-Conference.  To get your FREE ticket click here and remember this is for everyone that loves theatre – you don’t have to work in the sector!

    It is less than a week until the big day and you may be at home gathering all your supplies to come very well prepared for the day… but, hang on, what exactly are your supplies?

    So, how does one equip oneself for the day, you may ask.

    -Do you… bring your umbrella? To hide behind if you get stage fright and to prepare yourself for that big brainstorm.

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    October 18th, 2017mardixonCulture, International

    This year, I was offered space to run an unconference around #LoveTheatreDay.  It’s free and open to everyone – even those just interested in Theatre.

    Sign up here for #LoveTheatreDay Unconference

    For more information on #LoveTheatreDay click here. 

    As part of the unconference, I’m working with students from Goldsmith University.  The following is a guest blog about the unconference:

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    August 21st, 2017mardixonCulture, International

    This year, @LoveTheatreDay‘s media partner is the wonderful @TheStage

    We are also really excited as we’re on Instagram this year also!  Oh and if you haven’t heard, we’re also mirroring 52Museums and created 52Stages – it’s all going on with theatres this year (and every year to be fair).

    As The Stage managed to script this so well, I’m borrow their complete script – but for those here to sign up and know the drill, here’s the link

    #LoveTheatreDay is back for 2017. The social media phenomenon will return on Wednesday November 15, 2017. For the first time, the day will be run in association with The Stage to ensure the participation of as many individuals and cultural organisations as possible.

    The day will celebrate theatre around the world using #LoveTheatreDay on Twitter and other social media platforms. There will be three themes throughout the day:

    • #Backstage (10am to 12pm): go behind the scenes and see parts of the theatre you would never normally get to see.
    • #AskATheatre (3pm to 5pm): talk directly to the creative teams about their shows, and ask the questions you’ve always wanted to.
    • #Showtime (7pm to 10pm): show us what you’re seeing at the theatre, and find out what happens off stage during a show.

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    July 28th, 2017mardixonCulture, International, Personal

    Recently, I went to Edinburgh with a few friends (Mark and Linda) as our friend Silvia was in the city with her mom. Silvia lives in the states so we don’t get to see her often (I’m giving the reason why we gate-crashed her time with her mom…).

    We had a few ideas of things we wanted to see and do while in Edinburgh but I decided to tweet to get a few more ideas:

    What happened after was truly inspiring and spoke volumes for Edinburgh as a city but also the way more can be done on social media. Every business was recommending another business – some that were the same! It was about raising the city, not themselves and it was so beautiful to read. And yes, we did take a few suggestions on our limited time but we will definitely be going back to Edinburgh! Read the rest of this entry »

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    July 19th, 2017mardixonCulture, International, Personal, Tech

    Since the advent of the world wide web the planet has gone through immense changes, its transformed the way we communicate, read, buy our clothes, pay our bills, watch TV, purchase our food and find our news. No facet of our day to day lives has remained unchanged, this has been made more apparent in the last decade through the increase in portable tablets and smart phones. Not only now do we want information instantly we can have it wherever we are and via multiple sources.

    So how has this change in how people obtain knowledge and entertainment affected Museums? Well initially some might say not much. Many museums still have entrance fees, most still have exhibits and many have the same basic layout that they did since their conception – some since 1879. Does this matter? For some, who can weather the storm and guarantee good footfall and wealthy philanthropists, then no it doesn’t. For others, it matters greatly. Read the rest of this entry »

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    July 16th, 2017mardixonCulture

    On July 14th Natural History Museum in London re-opened Hintze Hall after a temporary closure for 6 months. The closure was not one that came without comments and controversy – it was to remove the beloved Dippy Dinosaur to replace it with the Blue Whale.

    Controversy

    People absolutely adore Dippy – they have fond memories of walking into Hintze Hall for the fist time (of many) and seeing the beautiful and cheeky Dippy the Dinosaur. He has been there since 1979 (before he was Reptile Gallery now Human Biology). To clarify – Dippy has NOT always been in the hall (ask that generation that remembers the elephants…)

    Now I absolutely Love Dippy. I even was involved with the ‘I Love Dippy’ campaign NHM put on a few years ago (seriously). I have supported the idea of Hintze Hall changing even though a part of me was nervous. However, trusting the people who run the museums was easier as they were transparent. Plans were available for public, discussions were public.

    Blue Whale Vs Dippy

    First of all, if you haven’t noticed, I was #TeamWhale since the first announcement althoughmy love of Dippy meant most assumed I was #TeamDippy. Let me explain why:

    Natural History Museum is my favorite museum in the world. Honestly.  And I’ve been to a lot internationally.  It’s never been about the collection and I’ve always been honest to them about it. My love has always been about how I felt seeing the building then experiencing it. The building has an amazing energy, the collection is almost a bonus!

    The museum has a very confusing personality: It’s a family museum, it’s a natural history museum, it’s a geography museum, it’s a dinosaur museum, and of course it’s a research museum.

    That last one is the most important: Natural History Museum is about research and conservation. FIRST. While public facing means they have to be for all, they truly have had an original mission they have with conservation.

    This is why the Blue Whale in the new Hintze Hall made complete sense. Hope, as the Blue Whale displayed is now called, was a Blue Whale beached in Wexford Harbour Ireland in 1891 (ten years after NHM opened). It was purchased by the museum and put on display in 1934 in the Mammal Hall. The Blue Whale is the first species humans globally decided to conserve. It took until 1966 for the decision to be made but by then NHM and others have already started the research.

    Dippy is about an extinct reptiles (the past) while Hope is about conservation (the future) Also need to point out that Dippy was a plaster cast replica – it never actually existed! The Blue Whale has.  And this is what NHM future is about. Yes we need to remember and respect the past but we also need to look to the future for lessons.

    Opening of Hintze Hall

    Being at the opening on the new Hintze Hall is a memory I will never forget. Being one of the first to see the spectacular Hope along with the new displays around both the first and second floor was emotional if I’m honest.

    After seeing Hope hung stunningly along the rafters, please ensure you have a look around the bays along the sides. They are broken up into two sections (following along with the building – Western side conservation and Eastern side Extinction):

    Easter Wonder Bays with American mastodon, Mantellisaurus, Fossil trees, Banded iron formation, and a Imilac meteorite

    Western Wonder Bays with Giraffes, Turbinaris coral, blue marlin, seaweeds and insects.

    ‘Putting our blue whale, Hope, at the centre of the Museum, between living species on the West and extinct species on the East, is a powerful reminder of the fragility of life and the responsibility we have towards our planet. ” Sir Michael Dixon

    I was fortunate to have a one to one chat with Sir Michael Dixon, Director of Natural History Museum. While we stood up on the second floor looking down on the new hall, he explained some of the challenges outside the Team Whale vs Team Dippy (which he didn’t know it was named that and found it humorous). We talked about the conflict of the museums personality, how much thought has gone into the new design and why it matters.

    For the new design, on the second floor they have very large display cabinet with collections that reach way about what any normal eye line would be. Sir Dixon explained this was so people on the first floor will look up and explore upstairs, something they have struggled with the public during before. Also there are several items which are being displayed in a way never attempted before (the Seaweed and Blue Marlin were examples provided).

    Natural History Museum is always worth a trip but no more than ever you should ensure it is on your list of museums to visit. Also a reminder that NHM is right next to the wonderful Science Museum and V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum).

    For those who still want Dippy back, please go see him while he tours around the Uk!

    Each partner will use Dippy’s visit to showcase their local nature and natural history collections, building partnerships between regional cultural, scientific and wildlife organisations. For more details, see their website.

    And do let me know if you can see Hope or Dippy on Tour!  Would love to know your thoughts!

     

    360˚ video of the new #HintzeHall

    Enjoy a 360˚ look at Hope the #BlueWhale and the new #HintzeHall during today's exclusive preview for the winner of our Hintze Hall free prize draw, and the runners-up. We had nearly 17,000 entries to the draw and the lucky winner was Laura Willis. We hope she and her guests, and the runners-up all enjoyed the morning before we opened to the public for the day.

    Posted by Natural History Museum, London on Friday, 14 July 2017

     

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