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
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    July 2nd, 2011mardixonLiteracy

    On Friday, July 1st I had the honor of spending the day with director of the Pop Up Festival Dylan Calder.  With a sponsored train ticket from London Midlands, I was able to see three amazing authors as they inspired 3 different classes from 3 different schools at 3 different events in one day. 

    I originally heard about Pop Up Festival when we attended the Children’s Laureate announcement as they had two Pop Up Festival Ambassadors at the BookTrust event.   I was able to talk to them and their usher for the day and that is when I found out about this incredible literacy program which works with inner city schools over several months with the assistance of, well, a lot of people (authors, illustrators, publishers, volunteers, etc). 

    The premises is schools are invited to choose a book they would like their class(es) to work with.  The teacher is then provided with assistance/resources to help with getting the kids to really digest the book – this could be in form of workshops, creating design & technology lessons, etc.  The culmination is the children then being invited off site (really cool off-sites like the British Library or Foundling Museum) to meet the author and discuss what they learn and for the author to also learn what the kids learnt from their books.

    At the end there is a huge two-day event called Festival of stories that has so many amazing authors and activities that I would challenge anyone to not find at least one activity that didn’t amuse them!

    This Post is about my Day with Pop Up Festival (click Read More).

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    June 29th, 2011mardixonCulture

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    June 28th, 2011mardixonLiteracy

    Yesterday, I went to my library to donate some books (not to the library, but to the Friends of Bridgnorth Library for a book sale we have scheduled soon).  As I was running this errand on the way to Rainbows, I really didn’t have much time to stop but was so grateful I did as out of the corner of my eye, on a prominent table by the entrance, the yellow of We Love This Book magazine caught my eye. 


    I knew about the magazine from Twitter (of course) and was itching to get my hands on a copy. While there are local indie book shops around me, none were close enough for me so finding the magazine on my doorstep was brilliant!

    A quick peruse of the Contents and I was immediately impressed with the quantity of articles within the 82 pages.  However, it wasn’t until I was able to read them today that the true quality of the magazine shines through.  This magazine is a taster plate of all the best items on a menu at a fine bookshop. 

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    June 24th, 2011mardixonCulture

    Following the success of last years #AskACurator day, Jim Richardson and his team have launched AskACurator.com this week.  This fabulous resource has striped the restrictions from Twitter and allows in-depth answers to the many questions asked on the #AskACurator Day. 

    I’ve been having a play as although I love IT, I have little patience when it comes to load times and finding my way around complex sites.  I’m happy to report  this site is so easy to navigate I’d go as far to say my mom (who detest computers) would have no problems at all finding her way around.  Registration is very simple, I just connected using my Facebook account but you have the option to create a separate account if you wish.

    While I find the use of video works best for my comprehension, every video is also follow up with a transcript for those that prefer reading.  The transcripts are also very useful for iPad/iPhone users as there is a Flash conflict on the videos (this is only temporary as they upgrade the media player for client).   

    The first page has three simple topics:

    • Question of the day with additional submenu: Trending Today, Ask a Question, Museum Channels, Subjects
    • Popular questions
    • Recent questions

    I originally thought I would spend a few minutes clicking, see how it went and go on my merry way.  Instead, I found myself clicking to get more answers.  There are a lot of interesting questions, such as ‘What does research about a Museum object look like?’ and ‘What’s the most unusual object you found at the museum?’

    Question of the day is where I’ve spent most of my time.  Museum channels currently holds six museums but I can see that will be filling up quickly as this site gains momentum.

    On each answer, you are able to Facebook like, add to Favourite and leave a comment.  However, Jim is already looking at enhancements and new features to add.  

    Overall, another brilliant, well thought-out, and resourceful site from the Sumo crew.  Go have a look around and let them know what you think. 

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    June 21st, 2011mardixonCulture


    Manchester Museums and Galleries Partnership in Education Programme ran from 2004-2010. I first came across this project from Twitter and asked to be kept in the loop when the final report was completed.  To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much, or to be remembered but luckily,  Louise Sutherland @lsutherland, the Learning Development Manager for Manchester City Galleries (Renaissance) didn’t forget.

    The 23-page comprehensive report shows a progressive, successful link between Manchester Children’s Services, local schools and cultural organisations.  It proves that these links can and did work in not just improving relationships between the agencies, but more importable it improved the children’s attainment while given the teachers the tools to make them more comfortable to work deeper into the curriculum (thinking outside the box).

    The bottom line?  It worked. 

    Why?  Collaboration and allowing pupils to explore a topic for more than 15 minutes burst.   

    The file can be found at the end of this document but I’m going to write about what I found important.

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    June 19th, 2011mardixonCulture

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    June 18th, 2011mardixonCulture

    When we found out we were going to be in London for the Children’s Laureate, I contacted Ian, the Manager at my absolutely favorite museum in the world (Natural History Museum – NHM) and asked if we could meet up.  I hadn’t an agenda, or fact, a clue as to what I was going to say or what the meeting was going to about but I tend not to let little details gets to me.

    As I was also speaking to the person behind the NHM twitter account, the other CultureThemes partners were invited to attend. Luckily Michael from Poole Museum was able to attend with me.  That meeting went very well with NHM agreeing to become a partner with CultureThemes.

    Natural History Museum

    Then we met Ian.  For those who  don’t know, Ian tweets under @NHM_MusMgr and has been using social media (mainly twitter) in a very positive way for a cultural institution.  I have often tweeted Ian with either praise or sometimes suggestions (earning me the title ‘gadfly’ – which I’m sort of proud of ;-). 

    It was great discussing the fantastic work NHM is doing both via social media and for kids.  I spent the morning at a London Ambassador meeting (for the Olympics) and they gave me a magazine which said NHM was third in London for kids to go to (beating the Science Museum).  We also chatted about the Dino-snores events that are held there.  I’m a mom of one and unfortunately, in order to attend a Dino-snores, you have to have 5 kids. I’m not sure what Ian could do about it, if anything, but it was nice to voice my issue.

    We also chatted about social media for cultural institutions.  NHM was used as a good example by Rich Mintz  at MuseumNext  for the way they have embraced twitter.   NHM and Ian try to respond / acknowledge tweeters who mention them in their tweets.  This is done by either answering the questions, or commenting on the people who might be annoyed with something (usually the queuing).  But they also encourage visits from people who mention they *might* come to the museums.  There is no statistical data to prove whether this is working or not, but I can tell you from a end-user point of view, it would swing my vote!

    Natural History Museum has Seven Twitter accounts:

    @NHM_London – the main account for general tweets

    @NHM_Id – Have you ever found an insect you weren’t sure what it was? They will help you!

    @NHM_MusMgr – Ian

    @NHM_Visiting  – Great account to follow, especially during busy times. Lets you know the projected waiting time.

    @NHM_Dippy – Dippy the Dinosaur that greets you from the main entrance.  This account has some exciting tweets in the works so Watch this space!

    @NatureLive – Live tweets during after-hour events.  Very interesting to follow especially for people like me that can’t get to London on a Friday night.

    @NHMevents –   news and tips about hosting events in the museum

    We chatted for about an hour, with Michael and Ian also getting some words in (despite the tone of this update making it sound like I did all the talking).

    It was great being able to reach out and discuss things with Ian.  Point for social media as I know this meeting would not have taken place a few years ago. 


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    June 16th, 2011mardixonLiteracy

    My daughter Charlotte was one of four kids chosen by Book Trust to be invited to Children Laureate announcement after she wrote an email nomination (she nominated Nick Sharratt but Julia Donaldson, ala Gruffalo, won). 


    From that, we had a heads up that Ed Vaizey was going to be speaking at the event.  For those that don’t know, on January 16th I tweeted Libraries are important because [fill in & RT] #savelibraries on Twitter and it went WorldTrending (thanks to Neil Gaiman and Jack Schofield) and there was a lot of attention to the hashtag. The responses I received were heartfelt and meaningful and showed how, world-wide, libraries were a necessity, not a luxury.  I was put into a position to speak on behalf of libraries, something I hope I did with dignity.


    From that, I started to tweet Ed Vaizey and Jeremy Hunt to find out how they would answer the tweet.


    Can everyone PLS RT Day 121: Dear @edvaizey & @Jeremy_Hunt Libraries are important because [fill in & RT].#savelibraries


    I talked it over with Charlotte and said if possible, and as long as it didn’t take away from her very special day, would she mind if I had a quiet word with him.  She was more than happy and here is where I’m going to go into Proud Mom mode. 

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  • I posted this over at www.culturethemes.com but wanted to put it here also.  

    June 16th, 2011mardixonCulture

    #MuseumNext Blog

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    June 15th, 2011mardixonLiteracy

    I know this post is a bit late, but better late than never. Pictures and some additional information can be found here:

    What HayFestival is All about.

    I was able to attend HayFestival again this year.  I know everyone talks about the feeling there but it is such an indescribable vibe about the festival and actually the whole town. 

    I attended MuseumNext this year, so arrived back at midnight on Friday but managed the 1 ½ hour drive to Hay Saturday morning to ensure I was there in time for the Sky Arts Book show.  I was so exciting about having tickets I didn’t care that I was tired, or my husband Michael was too ill to come but had to come anyway as I didn’t want to get lost.  And I was glad I did as seeing how the show is created was enlightening, as were the guests!

    On the Sunday, the whole family came to HayFestival.  I had tickets for the Sky Arts Book show again (this time it was Professor Brian Cox and Mark Logue – King’s Speech). I also was privileged to attend the Royal Society Lecture by the President of the Society Paul Nurse: DARWIN AND MILTON – TWO VIEWS OF CREATION.   I was a bit worried about attending this event as I’m not the strongest with the Royal Society items, but found this to be a thought-provoking, albeit a bit controversial discussion.  Paul took questions from the audience after, all of whom seem to want to debate his religion rather than discuss the topic but he was very eloquent in his replies.

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