@MarDixon Passionate about culture internationally. Run remixing events, workshops, create solutions, and an international speaker. Over sharer and Mom who loses arguments to a teen. Projects created: @CultureThemes @lovetheatreday @AskaCurator @MuseumSelfieDay @TeensInMuseums @52museums
  • scissors
    September 28th, 2021mardixonCulture

    If you think you’ve seen it all before, you’re wrong. 

    I was very excited to visit the new Hokusai exhibition at the British Museum but mostly to get out and about for the first time in ages rather than the exhibition itself. As a Londoner and former employee, I’ve visited the museum more times than I can count. The place has quite a few Hokusai items in the collection (1,038 from a quick search of collections online but probably more) over the years I felt I’d seen pretty much all of them. Surely, they’d wheeled most of them out in the 2017 Beyond Great Wave exhibition? Not reading up on the exhibition beforehand, I was expecting a lazy re-boot of previous successful exhibitions as a guaranteed way to bring in the visitors.

    As it happens, this couldn’t be further from the truth, although it still deserves to bring in the Hokusai fans (of which there are many). The prints in the exhibition are all new acquisitions so you’ve not seen them before and even if you had, they weren’t attributed to Hokusai! They’re also different style to the usual colourful images we’re used to seeing – there all black and white drawings. AMAZING black and white drawings.

    All these drawings were made in Hokusai’s later years for a picture book encyclopaedia that never happened. I’m not sure why it was never published as I was too busy darting between all the drawings to fully take in all the interpretation. I did take away the fact that the drawings probably wouldn’t still exist if the encyclopaedia had been published.

    The exhibition space is unremarkable and looking around, it’s a sea of identically postcard-sized drawings on a plain background. You have to get really close to the drawings to appreciate them and their fine detail. Fortunately, if you’re roughly ambulant adult height, it’s easy to do so. Shorter humans and those using wheelchairs may struggle more. I was glad I brought my reading glasses. 

    I thought it was interesting that the interpretation was ordered from right to left and bottom to top. Once I’d worked that out, it was much easier to match descriptions to what I was seeing as there no numbers next to the pictures themselves.

    There’s a massive variety of subjects from sea monsters and mer-people to mummified flesh-eating and aquatic birds. Anyone who wants to learn from an expert draftsperson need look no further.

    Asides from the excellent art on display, I loved the science-y stuff such as the excellent analysis of the Great Wave (yes, that’s there too) and the explanation of how a wood block is made.

    Despite its fairly small size, the exhibition is easily an hour’s visit and well worth it. It’s an absolute must for any student of design too. Highly recommend!

    Hokusai: The great picturebook of everything is showing at the British Museum from 30 September 2021 to 30 January 2022. Tickets from £9, members go free.

  • scissors
    August 31st, 2021mardixonCulture


    Brazilian museums and experts get involved in the Ask A Curator 10th edition


    Ask A Curator is a global initiative that aims to give the public unprecedented access to the passionate and enthusiastic people who work in museums and galleries, while breaking down barriers at these institutions, where social media is often in the hands of the marketing team.

    It is a one-day social media Q&A event, providing a one-on-one access between curators and the public.

    Although some Brazilian institutions had already participated in previous years, a special initiative produced a whole lot of content in Portuguese to celebrate the Ask A Curator’s 10th edition, including the presentation below, a Portuguese version of the registration form and graphic material that can be used freely by the participants.


    AskAcurator 2021 takes place on Wednesday, September 15th. We will put up a special campaign in Brazil, keeping the original #AskACurator hashtag, but using the names #PergunteAoCurador and #PergunteACuradora next to it.

    All museums, galleries and historical sites are invited to participate. But that’s not all: in previous years, the event had the participation of zoos, aquariums, libraries and experts in the most diverse areas of knowledge!

    How do I do?

    You just join! The event is completely organic and each participant organizes and announces their participation as they wish, on the social media they want. We ask that you complete the form at https://forms.gle/z6foDdXzg2tAsDuD7 [Portuguese version]. Other than that, the only rules are:

    1. Always use the hashtag #AskACurator. You can also add #PergunteAoCurador and #PergunteACuradora, according to who is the expert.

    2. Organize and publicize your event, encouraging the audience to submit questions on the day or in advance.

    3. Answer the questions!


    To make it easier, we’ve written a brief tutorial on how you can organize your #AskACurator Day:

    1. Invite experts and determine with them when and how they will respond to the audience. For example: from 5 pm to 6 pm, during a live on Instagram; for 30 minutes, on Twitter chat.

    2. Make a good publicity on your social networks, by direct mail, on the website, on the podcast; and let the press know! Clearly explain when the curators will be online and how the audience should forward questions: for example, via the Instagram Stories dialog; in the comments; in advance, by direct message on Twitter or email.

    3. In Brazil, we’ve prepared a little surprise to help spread the word: A series of cards in Portuguese (download here). Some of them you can even use as a basis for tools like Canva, easily adding your logo, the curator’s photo, etc.

    4. Prepare for the answers. Consider the variety of questions that might arise (see examples in The Questions below). You can pre-film the experts answering a few questions and post the videos on the day.

    5. Answer questions with kindness, good humour and interesting content.

    6. During and after the event, post some of the questions the audience asked, or questions with the correspondent answers. Interact with the audience, ask if the event was interesting and consider linking other specialists and institutions in the subsequent debate.

    The questions

    #AskACurator is light, interesting, educational, fun and extremely curious! Here are a set of questions from past editions to help you prepare for this one:

    • What do you do on a normal workday?

    • What is the weirdest object in the collection?

    • What do you love about your job?

    • What is your favourite object and why?

    • Have you ever broken any artefacts?

    • What is the most valuable object? And the oldest?

    • How have you been working during the pandemic?

    • If you could add a piece to the collection, what would it be?

    • Which artist, living or deceased, would you like to meet?

    • Who is your favourite scientist?

    • Which historical character are you a fan of?

    • How do I get a job at the museum?

    • How does one donate an object to the museum?

    • How can I offer my art to the museum?

    • What is the museum doing to diversify the collection?

    • What’s on a curator’s playlist?

    • How do you become a healer?

    • What does a curator carry in her purse?

    • How important are museums?

    • What is your biggest object?

    • What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you as a curator?

    • How is your museum making itself interesting for young people?

    Local and global

    Institutions and people from New Zealand to Hawaii participate in Ask A Curator. Keep in mind that your content [in Portuguese], can be accessed in nine countries that have Portuguese as their official language. The Portuguese language, with more than 260 million native speakers, is the fifth most used globally, the third in the West and the first in the Southern Hemisphere.

    I’m a visitor. How do I participate?

    • Just go to social media on the day of the event and ask your question in a post or tweet. Start with @museumname so that your question goes directly to the institution. You can also enter the page you are interest in and submit the question as indicated.
    • Follow the hashtag #AskACurator, #PergunteAoCurador and #PergunteACuradora to read about other questions and other institutions!
    • Share questions and answers with colleagues, friends and people you know will like the content.
    • And come back next year!

    Ask A Curator, the Origin

    Ask a Curator Day started in 2010 in an effort to harness Twitter’s networking power to drum up some direct engagement with curators across the globe. The idea was that a curious public would be able to question the keepers of cultural heritage about the objects in their care and what it is they do with them.

    The event became an instant hit with museums around the world fielding questions from their audiences, and trended number one on Twitter worldwide.

    Over the last decade, the initiative conceived by Jim Richardson, founder of the MuseumNext conference, has grown thanks to the careful eye of Mar Dixon, extending to other social media such as Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

    To know more:


    Museus e especialistas brasileiros participam da 10ª. edição do Ask A Curator!

    O que é?

    O Ask A Curator é uma iniciativa mundial que visa dar ao público acesso sem precedentes às pessoas apaixonadas e entusiasmadas que trabalham em museus e galerias, ao mesmo tempo em que quebra barreiras nessas instituições, em que muitas vezes a mídia social é assunto apenas da equipe de marketing.

    Um evento de um dia de perguntas e respostas nas mídias sociais, que dá acesso um-a-um entre curadores e o público.

    Embora algumas instituições brasileiras já tenham participado do Ask A Curator em anos anteriores, uma iniciativa especial produziu todo um conteúdo em português para celebrar a 10ª. edição, incluindo a apresentação abaixo, uma versão em português do formulário de inscrição e material gráfico que poderá ser utilizado livremente pelos participantes.


    O AskACurator 2021 acontece na quarta-feira, dia 15 de setembro. Faremos uma campanha especial no Brasil, usando os nomes Pergunte ao curador! e Pergunte à curadora! ao lado do nome original. 

    Todos os museus, galerias e sítios históricos estão convidados a participar. Mas não só: nos anos anteriores, o evento teve participação de zoológicos, aquários, bibliotecas, orquestras sinfônicas e especialistas nas mais diversas áreas do conhecimento!

    Como faço?

    Basta querer! O evento é totalmente orgânico e cada participante organiza e anuncia sua participação como quiser, na mídia social que desejar. Pedimos que você preencha o formulário em https://forms.gle/z6foDdXzg2tAsDuD7. Fora isso, as únicas regras são:

    1. Usar sempre a hashtag #AskACurator; pode acrescentar as versões em português #PergunteAoCurador ou #PergunteACuradora, conforme o caso.
    2. Organize e divulgue o seu evento, incentivando o público a enviar perguntas no dia ou com antecedência.
    3. Responda as perguntas!


    Para facilitar, redigimos um breve tutorial de como você pode organizar o seu #AskACurator Day:

    1. Convide especialistas e determine com eles quando e como eles responderão ao público. Por exemplo: das 5 às 6 da tarde, durante uma live no Instagram; por 30 minutos, no chat do Twitter. 
    2. Faça uma boa divulgação nas suas redes sociais, por mala direta, no website, no podcast; e avise a imprensa! Explique claramente o horário em que os curadores estarão online e como o público deve encaminhar as perguntas: por exemplo, pela caixa de diálogo dos Stories do Instagram; nos comentários; com antecedência, por mensagem direta no Twitter ou email.
    3. No Brasil, preparamos uma pequena surpresa para ajudar na divulgação: uma série de cards em português (baixe aqui). Alguns deles você pode até usar como base em ferramentas como o Canva, acrescentando facilmente seu logotipo, foto da curadora etc. 
    4. Prepare-se para as respostas. Considere a variedade de perguntas que poderá surgir (veja exemplos em As Perguntas, abaixo). Você pode filmar antecipadamente os especialistas respondendo algumas perguntas e publicar os videos no dia.
    5. Responda as perguntas com gentileza, bom humor e conteúdo interessante.
    6. Durante e após o evento, divulgue algumas das perguntas que o público fez, ou perguntas com suas respostas. Interaja com o público, pergunte se o evento foi interessante. Considere incrementar o debate referenciando outros estudiosos e instituições.

    As perguntas

    O #AskACurator é leve, interessante, educativo, divertido e curiosíssimo! A seguir, perguntas de edições passadas para você se preparar:

    • O que você faz num dia normal de trabalho?
    • Qual o objeto mais esquisito do acervo?
    • O que você ama no seu trabalho?
    • Qual o seu objeto favorito e por que?
    • Você já quebrou algum artefato?
    • Qual o objeto mais valioso? E o mais antigo?
    • Como você vem trabalhando durante a pandemia?
    • Se você pudesse acrescentar uma peça ao acervo, qual seria?
    • Qual artista, vivo ou já falecido, você gostaria de ter conhecido?
    • Qual o seu cientista preferido?
    • De que personagem histórico você é fã?
    • Como se consegue um emprego no museu?
    • Como se doa um objeto para um museu?
    • Como eu posso oferecer minha arte ao museu?
    • O que o museu está fazendo para diversificar o acervo?
    • O que está na playlist de um curador?
    • Como se vira um curador?
    • O que uma curadora leva na bolsa?
    • Qual é a importância dos museus?
    • Qual o seu maior objeto?
    • Qual a coisa mais estranha que já lhe aconteceu no seu trabalho?
    • Como seu museu está se fazendo interessante para os jovens?

    Local e global

    Participam do #AskACurator instituições e pessoas da Nova Zelândia ao Havaí. Tenha em mente que o seu conteúdo, em português, poderá ser acessado em nove países que têm o idioma como oficial. A língua portuguesa, com mais de 260 milhões de pessoas, é a quinta mais usada no mundo, a terceira no Ocidente e a primeira no Hemisfério Sul.

    Sou público. Como participo?

    Basta entrar nas redes sociais no dia do evento e fazer a sua pergunta em uma postagem ou tuíte. Começe com @nomedomuseu para que sua pergunta vá diretamente para a instituição. Você também pode entrar na página de seu interesse e enviar a pergunta da forma que estiver indicado.

    Siga a hashtag #AskACurator, #PergunteAoCurador e  #PergunteACuradora para ler sobre outras perguntas e outras instituições!

    Compartilhe perguntas e respostas com colegas, amigos e amigas que você sabe que vão gostar do conteúdo.

    E volte no ano que vem!

    Ask A Curator, a Origem

    O Ask a Curator Day começou em 2010, aproveitando o poder do Twitter como rede de relacionamentos para encorajar o engajamento direto entre curadores e curadoras de todo o planeta e um público curioso, que assim poderia ter suas mais variadas perguntas respondidas pelos especialistas.

    O evento alcançou sucesso imediato entre museus, alcançando o primeiro lugar entre os Trending Topics do Twitter no mundo.

    Ao longo da última década, a iniciativa idealizada por Jim Richardson, fundador da conferência MuseumNext, cresceu graças ao olhar cuidadoso de Mar Dixon, estendendo-se para outras mídias sociais, como o Instagram, o YouTube e o Facebook.

    Leia mais:

  • scissors
    August 13th, 2021mardixonCulture

    This is from Jim Richardson on MuseumNext.com

    Ask a Curator Day started in 2010 in an effort to harness Twitter’s networking power to drum up some direct engagement with curators across the globe. The idea was that a curious public would be able to question the keepers of cultural heritage about the objects in their care and what it is they do with them.

    The event became an instant hit with museums around the world fielding questions from their audiences, and trended number one on Twitter worldwide.

    Over the past decade the event has grown under the watchful eye of Mar Dixon and it’s grown from being something that just takes place on Twitter to also encompass Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

    On September 15th 2021, Ask a Curator will return and we’re hoping that museums around the globe will once again get their curators and other experts to answer questions from the public.

    Any Museum, Gallery or Heritage site can get involved with Ask a Curator. But if you don’t fit into one of those categories, you’re still welcome to participate. In previous years we’ve had questions answered by people working in Zoos, Aquariums, Libraries and more.

    You also don’t need to be a curator to answer questions. The public think that people who work in museums are all curators, but obviously you can put questions to whoever you feel is best placed to answer.

    From New Zealand to Hawaii, Ask a Curator spans the globe with cultural and heritage organisations answering questions from members of the public. How your institution gets involved is very much up to you. Many run Ask a Curator on Twitter asking their followers to send them questions, others prefer to participate on Facebook or Instagram.

    Some people will send you questions directly, but you can also search the hashtag #AskaCurator for questions anyone can answer. How your institution participates is up to you.

    Some questions from previous years include:

    What does your typical day look like?
    What’s the weirdest object in your collection?
    What do you love about your job?
    What’s your favourite object?
    Have you ever broken an object What’s your most valuable object?
    What’s your oldest object?
    How have you done your job during the pandemic?
    If you could add any object to your collection, what would it be?
    Which artist alive or dead, who would you like to meet?
    Who is your favourite artist?
    Who is your favourite scientist?
    Who is your favourite figure from history?
    Is your museum haunted?
    How do you get a job in a museum?
    What is your museum doing to diversity your collection?
    What’s a surprising fact about your museum?
    What’s your favourite museum to visit other than your own?
    Do you collect anything yourself?
    What’s the difference between a curator and a conservator?
    What’s on a Curators playlist?
    How can I get my art in a museum?
    What’s in a curators bag?
    Which object would you like to see come to life?
    What item would you most like to take home and why?
    Do you have any cats in your collection?
    If you could only save one object from a fire, what would it be?
    Why are museums important?
    What’s your largest object?
    If you could live at any time, what year would you choose?
    What’s the role of a museum in 2020?
    What’s the strangest thing to ever happen in your museum?
    Why did you become a curator?
    What part of your job has surprised you?
    Which object would you use to explain humanity to Aliens?
    Got any advice for someone who wants to become a curator?
    How are you making your museum relevant to young people?

    This should give you some idea of the broad range of questions that you can expect from Ask a Curator. You can find more suggestions in our Ask a Curator guide which can be downloaded here.

    The event takes place on September 15th, but you can get started now by letting your followers / fans know that you intend to participate and by booking time in with those best placed to answer questions. You can download graphics to promote your participation here.

    You might want to prepare some content before 15th Sept, for example you could ask some of your team to film answers to some of the questions on the previous page (they don’t have to be curators).

    If you want to participate, please let us know using this form. We look forward to having you be part of what promises to be another very successful Ask a Curator.

  • scissors
    July 8th, 2021mardixonCulture

    This week, I went to Tate Britain to check out the new Paula Rego exhibition. I’d never heard of this artist which is surprising as she was the first Associate Artist at the National Gallery – a place where I once worked! Still, I was intrigued to see what it was all about and what an artist with over 70 years’ experience had to offer. To be clear, I’m neither artist, art historian or art critic. Any chance of that was beaten out of me in my school years when I was made to stop art in favour of ‘proper subjects’ that would get me a ‘proper job’! These are just the thoughts of a random guy so feel free to disagree!

    So anyway, it was a lovely day to visit the Tate and lovely to be back by the Thames in the sunshine for the first time in a year. For those of you who aren’t Londoners, that’s a long time to be separated from our beloved river!

    The show is largely chronological and the first room was of early works from the 1950s. This room for me was the most challenging and I found it a bit of a struggle. One of the first things we learn is that the artist who was born in Lisbon, Portugal, was sent to a finishing school in Kent at age 16. This stirred up the inverted snob in me and made me expect yet another exhibition by some privileged person who went to a fancy art school. That’s my own prejudice to get over though and I thought I’d need to separate the art and the artist. Maybe if I had been to art school, I would have ‘got’ that first room more too. Some of the works were very much on the abstract side and I just couldn’t see what the wall captions were telling me I was looking at.
    I’m glad the captions were there though. For one, they reveal that the art and the artist are very much intertwined and can’t be separated. It also explained why I couldn’t see what was going on – I probably wasn’t supposed to. You see, these paintings were all painted at a time of dictatorship in Portugal where political freedoms and women’s rights were suppressed. These paintings criticised the regime and those who led it and exposed women’s stories including her own. This is not something you could do openly and shows what a brave and determined woman she was and is. Though a difficult start, this room was essential to set me on track for the rest of the exhibition. My one piece of advice for anyone visiting would be to read the labels in this room!

    From there on, the exhibition becomes more accessible for the average punter like me. No less impactful though. Room after room, you’re belted round the chops with powerful artwork after powerful artwork. The variety of media is phenomenal too – collage drawing paints, pastels… Is there nothing this artist cannot master? There are works that are grotesque, beautiful, uncomfortable and full of humour. There’s a lot to take in but it’s all portioned up into manageable themes while keeping to the chronology so it never feels like too much.

    In terms of simply beautiful artwork, my favourites had to be the series of prints of nursery rhymes, including Little Miss MuffettThree Blind Mice and Baa Baa Black Sheep. All beautiful in their creepiness!
    One room is dedicated to subverting the male dominance of art in The National Gallery by re-interpreting works to include female representation. Another room contains a delightful 3m long diptych inspired by Disney’s Show White and the Seven Dwarfs’.
    There’s an entire room dedicated to a series of paintings of a woman in a series of poses expressing sexuality but are inspired by the similarity of the depiction of female saints in Catholic paintings and 19th-century images of women ‘diagnosed with hysteria’. There’s a lot going on here so I’d recommend checking it out yourself rather than have me trying to explain here!

    There’s a lot more to see but the last room for me was the most important. My only criticism of it was that the room itself was beyond the exit so you could avoid it if you so choose. As I write the word ‘criticism’, it already feels like the wrong word. You see, in this room there are some horrific depictions of different forms of female abuse including trafficking and female genital mutilation. It’s quite right that these images are horrific as the acts they show are unspeakable. And that’s the point. We should be speaking about these things and putting an end to them. This final collection of works has been placed as a ‘provocation for action’ and is a fitting endpoint for a retrospective of someone whose entire life has been about fighting injustice for women.

    This is an outstanding show by an outstanding artist. One I cannot hesitate in recommending.

    Paula Rego runs from 7 July – 24 October 2021 at Tate Britain. £18 / Free with ticket for Members. Concessions available. £5 for Tate Collective.

  • scissors
    May 29th, 2021mardixonCulture

    Hair today, gone tomorrow.
    Nero: the man behind the myth The British Museum’s first exhibition in its mahoosive Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery since emerging from lockdown is an exhibition that seek to answer one question. Does Nero deserve his reputation for cruelty and excess?

    Wall text: Nero is one of the most infamous Roman emperors. Does he deserve his reputation for cruelty and excess?
    Before you even get into the exhibition, you are greeted with a bust of Nero that gives you an idea of what is to come. It’s a bust of Nero but only a bit of it by his right eye is original – the rest has been made later on to resemble some kind of cross between a bond villain and a badly taxidermied Gordon Brown. It seems both in his life and after, peers and academics have been on a mission to trash-talk him out of history. The exhibition takes every aspect of the Nero we know of today and bit by bit, section by section tears down this – as the exhibition declares – ‘myth’.

    Bust of Nero

    It’s all very convincing and we start with a statue of Nero as a young boy which seems to beg the question “how could you be so cruel about this innocent young chap?”. There’s a giant purple velvet curtain behind him which simultaneously makes him look important and insignificant.

    Statue of Nero as a young boy

    The argument is comprehensive across nine different sections but doesn’t stray far from its central question. There were mentions of different aspects of Roman life that I’d love to have learnt more about. For instance, there was a terrifying display of the chains from a chain gang used for slaves. I wanted to find out more about what life was like for these people but the exhibition doesn’t try to offer this. Perhaps that’s the right thing to do though – no exhibition can be big enough to cover everything. The exhibition sticks to its guns and follows its story without deviation. No side quests here. With one exception. Nero’s hair. Throughout the exhibition, there were constant mentions of Nero’s hairstyle and how everyone wanted to copy it. If you’re thinking of getting a ‘Nero’ to replace your lockdown mullet haircut then maybe this is the exhibition for you.

    Ankle chains from a chain gang
    Exhibition panel describing Nero’s dashing yet refined hairstyle

    The exhibition to me felt quite academic which I know the museum’s first returning audiences will love. Design-wise, it is very grand in a subdued kind of way. The section on ‘spectacle and splendour’ didn’t feel very spectacular or splendid to me but whether that would have been appropriate given there are human remains on display is another matter.
    The section on the great fire of Rome also felt underplayed given Nero’s ‘fiddling while Rome burrned’ is what many of us know him for. I’ve seen amazing displays on the fire of London so maybe my expectations were too high but if the idea was to downplay the relationship between Nero and fire, it did its job well.

    Wall caption: Nero dies aged 30. One writer said that the powerful were pleased, the people were sad and the army had mixed feelings. How do you feel?
    The exhibition was also peppered with various provocations on the wall which ask your thoughts on various aspects of the exhibition. Some were curiously worded, asking me how I ‘feel’ about Nero’s death but they did serve to lighten what was a quite heavy exhibition.
    All in all, it is a show of great heft and authority, done very well in a way that only somewhere such as the British Museum can. It’s definitely one for the intellectual senators and knights rather than provincials such as I but what it does, it does very well. I had an enjoyable visit which was only helped by the centurion rubber ducks in the gift shop.
    Nero: The man behind the myth runs at the British Museum from 27 May 24 October 2021. Tickets from £20.

    Wall caption: Nero dies aged 30. One writer said that the powerful were pleased, the people were sad and the army had mixed feelings. How do you feel?

    Large, open space in the exhibition. Perfect for social distancing.

    To book tickets for Nero the man behind the myth, see British Museum’s website. Exhibition / 27 May 2021 – 24 Oct 2021

  • scissors
    May 23rd, 2021mardixonCulture

    Huge thank you to Matt White (@soupdragon2000 on Twitter) for attending and sharing this exhibition! I personally can’t wait to get back to review and seeing more exhibitions.

    I was lucky enough to be one of the first to visit a museum in 2021 on the morning of May 17. It was also my first time travelling by tube in over a year and the first time in central London this year so it felt like a BIG day. The tube was quiet. Very quiet. Gone was the smorgasbord of theatre and exhibition posters you usually see and in their place was a drab selection of generic TfL safety information. Still, it was nice not to have your face pressed against someone’s armpit for the journey.

    My destination was the British Museum and after an eerily empty walk through Holborn, I was delighted to see a queue of eager visitors waiting to get in. Though the queue was long, it was fast and well managed and I was through the gates in no time at all.

    I was there to see Thomas Beckett: Murder and the making of a saint and I have to say, walking up those steps to Room 35 for the first time in such a long time stirred up the emotions a bit!

    I didn’t know much (if anything) about Thomas Beckett before going but fortunately, you get sent the overall wall text and exhibition map in an email the day before. For me, this was great, as I was able to spend more time appreciating the objects I was looking at and less time gawking at text on a wall. Nobody wants to read too much text in an exhibition – that’s what books are for! It also seemed to help with visitor flow with fewer people crowding around panels.

    So – quick tldr; version of Beckett. *spoiler alert* – he gets killed. Beckett was this merchant dude from Cheapside in London who somehow manages to become besties with King Henry II. He somehow manages to get himself promoted from pen pusher to Chancellor and Archbishop of Canturbury. A bit Like Michael J Fox in ‘The Secret of my Success’. As quickly as he rises, he is fallen, as he falls out with Henry who thinks he’s taking a bit of a liberty with all the power. He scarpers to Canterbury to get away from Henry, only someone must have dobbed him in as four knight rock up and shank him at the alter. Henry gets the blame for this, natch, but he’s king so he just has to say sorry and suck up to the pope. Meanwhile, Thomas, who has become quite popular, gets lots of visitors to his tomb. Miracles were documented such as the curing of nosebleeds and funny tummies [srsly? I could do that] and he gets made a saint and Henry has to suck up to him too, even though he’s dead.

    That’s my take on it anyway.

    The exhibition itself only deals with the actual Beckett part in the first half and then goes on to show us the legacy of the events through the ages. Beckett certainly had his ups and downs. He got a massive cult following in Norway but Henry VIII really didn’t like him and smashed up his tomb and scratched out all references to him in the literature, turning everything into some kind of messed up Mean Girls Burn Book.

    You’d think the exhibition would be all dark and gloomy given the subject matter but it was actually quite light and airy which is quite refreshing. Nice use of fabric gave a cathedral-like atmosphere without being stuffy.

    The ‘murder bit’ was about halfway through and was tastefully done with AV. The star of the show came just after that where you could see the stained glass windows from Canterbury Cathedral, depicting lots of miracles such as the curing of the bloody nose. No, really – it’s a thing.

    They quite clearly recognise the beauty of the windows too as its image is slapped on basically EVERYTHING in the gift shop.

    Bishop-themed rubber ducks are also available if that’s more your thing. Thank-you BM. You do not disappoint. 

    All in all, it was a most enjoyable exhibition covering a massive timescale and which doesn’t try to cast judgement on whether Beckett was a goodie or a baddie. For me, he came across as a bit of a chancer crony who blagged his way through life and death. Your take may be different. Whatever you take away from the exhibition, it is a thoroughly enjoyable first step back into the museum world so many of us miss so much. I’d thoroughly recommend a visit.
    Thomas Beckett: murder and the making of a saint opened 20 May, Adults from £17, Members and under 16s free.

  • scissors
    February 6th, 2021mardixonCulture

    Clubhouse is an app that is like a podcast but anyone can talk. It’s currently just for iPhone and invite-only.

    The easiest way to describe it is that it’s a conference with a person speaking and you can raise your hand to speak.

    I’m seeing more brands joining and can see the potential for museums and art galleries to being part of this platform for Q&A’s and talks. However, this is name-based app and currently brand names are discouraged. You can set up a club as a brand but it will always be tied to the person who started it and their phone number.

    Some things I’ve learned in the last 2 days from being on there


    • To send an invite, click on the envelope. This will open a new screen with your phone contacts. Find the name of the person you want to send an invite to and click Invite.
    • The invite is sent via iMessage so the person has to be in your phone contacts
    • If your nominated invitee gets blocked or reported, they can also kick you off so be cautious with who you share invite with

    Main Screen: This is the first screen you see when you enter Clubhouse. This is also referred to as the hallway or entrance hall.

    • Magnifying glass: search for people, rooms, or clubs.
    • Calendar: Rooms/Clubs that you requested to be reminded of and other ones you might be interested in
    • Bell: Notifications of talks, people who joined you might know, etc
    • Profile: Your profile can be taken from Twitter or Instagram
    • From the hallway swipe left to hide a room – so it does’t clutter the hallway. From hallway slide right to see where your friends (followers) are if they are online or in a room.

    Rooms/Club: Anyone can start a room by clicking Start A Room.

    • Open: Starts a Room open to everyone – regardless if they follow you or not
    • Social: Starts a Room with people you follow (eg they can see the room but general public can’t get in)
    • Closed: Starts a Room with only people you choose


    You have to have run a few rooms in order to apply for a club. You can apply for a club via this link.

    • They limit each user to creating 2 clubs
    • Prioritizing clubs for people who have already hosted a weekly show 3 times.

    Room/Club Screen:

    • When you enter a room or a club, you’re automatically muted.
    • If you want to join in a conversation, you have to raise your hand (bottom right-hand corner in a room/club). This notifies the moderator and they can let you choose to let you speak. If you have raised your hand and been brought to the “stage” your microphone is NOT automatically muted.
    • The + is to ping or nudge people you follow to join the room/club.
    • Leave quietly exits the room/club

    Other things learned

    • You do not have to stay on the app to listen, it will play in the background
    • “PTR” is pull to refresh. People change their profile photo often – it is one way of sending a message without speaking.
    • The room chat seems to last as long as needed and clubs seem to be for a time period, usually, an hour but some have been 15 minutes.
    • Every room/club is recorded
    • You can not send a private message
    • Unsure of the ethics behind this app but like every free app, there will be issues.

    So far I’m really enjoying listening and taking part. It’s much better than zoom no video which with my internet helps.

    Thanks to Dr Lucy Rogers for helping with this blog!

  • scissors
    September 3rd, 2020mardixonCulture

    This year #AskaCurator is celebrating its 10th anniversary and so pleased that Jim Richardson from MuseumNext who originally created the hashtag is back on the team to help support it.  I’m copying from his website as there are resources and more information you can find there. 

    Ask a Curator is back on 16th September 2020. As a previous participant in the event, we’d love you to join in on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or wherever your museum is active.

    You can find out more about this years event here.

    As with previous years it is open to any museum, gallery, library, archive, zoo or independent curator. It’s free to participate and sure to attract lots of attention across social media.

    You might want to prepare some content before 16th Sept, for example you could ask a curator to film answers to some of the questions on the previous page. You can download a design pack with graphics to use both on the day and to promote your participation here.

    If you’ve not yet told us that you wish to take part, you can let us know using this form. This just makes it easier for us to give people updates and communicate the scale of the project to press. We look forward to having you be part of what promises to be another very successful Ask a Curator.

    We look forward to seeing everyone sharing questions and answers but most importantly, having fun!  

    And thanks Jim Richardson and everyone else helping this year!

  • scissors
    May 4th, 2020mardixonCulture

    With some countries starting to ‘open’ again I have some questions. I’m sure it’ll be different depending on the size of the museum/gallery and indeed the procedures and policies will be different country to country but thought it would be good to have a conversation around them.

    • What does a re-open look like?
    • Will staff (and eventually visitors) have their temperature monitored?
    • Will the museum have a deep clean and what does that involve?
    • Will you keep the interactives and touch screens or change the policy around them (eg will visitors need to wear gloves)?
    • Will all staff be coming back?
    • What changes can we expect in cafes and shops?
    • What difference will be made to Front of House if any?

    I’m sure I’ll have more questions but just wanted to say how amazing all staff have been throughout this ordeal. Furlough staff still volunteering, other staff keeping content online going, others just checking in and making sure anxiety levels stayed low. It’s a great sector to be involved with!

    Stay safe!

  • scissors
    March 23rd, 2020mardixonCulture

    I haven’t updated my site in a while as been busy doing things (MuseumSelfie was brilliant, WhyILoveMuseums was at the right time and now there will be continuous hashtags to sink our teeth into).

    However, now that everyone is using social media again I felt it was important to share something. I’m really struggling not to be smug and remind people of all the times I reminded you to use social to be social so that when you need the community they would support you! I see many brands struggling because they always just scheduled and push out information and never responded or cared.

    Ok, I feel better.

    Museums are Closed (not sure who to credit)

    How are museums, art galleries, libraries and others surviving? We’ll we’re all pulling together. There are lots of list going around but these are the key ones for Virtual tours, resources, e-learning and kids resources. I will also add that MuseumNext has been adding A LOT of great and useful content!

    Read the rest of this entry »
  • « Older Entries