I recently had the honor of attending Our Londinium 2012, The Roman London gallery at Museum of London. Londinium is a project that was born in 2010 via national Stories of the World programme, the museum sector strand of the Cultural Olympiad. While the project was spring-boarded by Cultural Olympiad, it seems to me the project is not going to go away anytime soon.
The Junction (Museum of London’s Youth Panel) has created an exhibition that if I wasn’t told otherwise, I would have struggled to see the lines of curator versa Youth panel. The displays were set in a traditional way. At a glance you didn’t really see any significant indication of the Junction’s involvement. My first indication was the green labels next to the white labels.
The exhibition is laid out generously over one floor. There is use of technology with the interactive displays. On the one I used I was presented a map and also asked to click on an icon showing a relevant item. For example when you click on the coin you were ‘swashed’ or zoomed into the area of London where the coin was found. In the middle of the screen was the biography on the item (in this case, the coin), with an option to play a video on the right side. I must admit that I first clicked on the big interactive display just to have a go but soon realized there were others behind me waiting as I was on it for so long. The concept might not be new but the lay out and design was very fresh.
While every aspect of the exhibition was something to be proud of, a few aspects stood out for me:
The items used had a very powerful touch that forced you to find out more about it. The significant different and flavour of this exhibition was the Then and Now aspect which I have seen before, but never in such an incredible display. A Starbuck’s cup next to Kiln Waster and Glass Bottles – you know the cup shouldn’t be there but then, before reading the label, you process the reasoning.
The same thing happened when I looked at an display case held both a Roman tablet game put next to a new Gameboy.
There is a Banksy/ pop art feel to a Roman exhibition which is one of the best exhibition I’ve seen in a long time.
When describing gladiator fighting, there was video footage* running along side the exhibition. The teens were explaining if it was ‘Then’ (Roman times) they have tablets and announcements proclaimed in the city while today they’d use Twitter and Facebook. There was something magical about watching the video with the exhibition. Then it dawn on me, the kids were excited about translating their knowledge to ‘English.’ That is what this exhibition did so well. It allowed the teens involved in Junction to have a voice but it didn’t try to change them. Instead, it embraced their language and made us, the audience, learn in a way they want to learn.
The exhibition might have been created by the youth panel, but there is something for every age from 0-100.
Our Londinium 2012 is open now until 2014 when the Museum’s new Roman Galleries are planned to launch and admission is FREE.
*Sound Delivery worked with the youth panel to record video aspects. This footage is shown along side the exhibition which make is more interactive and more powerful. Sounds Delivery does amazing work to create social change.