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 21st, 2011mardixonCulture

    About a week ago, Natural History Museum (London) emailed to let me know they were going to be asking people on Twitter to come to the museum for a ‘special’ mission.

    Immediately intrigued, I waited for more information.  I didn’t have long as I soon found out they were asking people who love the museum to come in on July 20th to be filmed.  But that’s all that was said.  Sadly, getting to London is not an easy task so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to go but, luckily, it was offered that I could film Charlotte and I, then send it into them.

    However, when I told Michael about the event, he purchased train tickets for me to go as he knows how passionate I am about NHM.  [Charlotte is going to film a separate bit to be added.]

    Natural History MuseumSo on July 20h, I arrived in London in time to meet with the other Tweeters who responded to the Museum’s quest for volunteers.  We were given a bit more information – but not much.  On arrival, we were taken to the gorgeous CentralHall, where a camera crew were set up near Dippy the Diplodocus (@NHM_Dippy).  We were asked to make a sign (which I spent *way* too much time on creating..) then each of us were filmed saying why we loved Dippy and our memories of the museum.  I babbled on and actually had to say it all again as my enthusiasm was a bit hurried for them.  If allowed, I probably could have spoken for an hour on my love of the museum.  I did mention something about wanting to marry it if allowed.


    When we were done, I still had another hour or so to look around before the museum closed.  I immediately headed over to the Attenborough Studios and watched two very brilliant films.

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    July 17th, 2011mardixonCulture

    As part of the two-week Festival of Archaeology, Charlotte and I (along with friends Vivi and her daughter Roberta) took part in a local (and free!) Day of Archaeology at Coalbrookdale in Ironbridge.

    We were surveying a Quaker Burial Ground which is in the care of the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.The event started with a short introductory talk not just on the site but the history behind the site. Our Project Manager of the day was Shane Kelleher, Archaeologist Management Officer for Ironbridge Gorge museum. Shane was very conscious of ensuring we knew the background on the Quaker Burial Grounds that we were going to be working on without lecturing us. He also explained the methodologies and techniques that we were going to use to record the Quaker Burial Ground (and also about health and safety and risk assessment). Along with Shane, special guest John Stimpson, who’s own family had connection with the burial ground was able to give us a personal history to the site.

    The talk

    Filled with the newfound knowledge of the Burial site, and a new respect for Quakers, we walked to the site. Although it rained all morning, it was then determined to be safe enough for us to split into two groups of seven and work on the site.

    Shane re-explained our objectives for the day (Group A on the Left, Group B on the Right)

    • Take data on the site as a whole (measuring)

    • Fill in the blank burial plan numbering each gravestone (L1 for Left one or R1 for Right One)

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    July 14th, 2011mardixonCulture

    The Damien Hirst exhibition is another wonderful creation made available with the help of the Artist Room.*

    The curator’s event I was invited to allowed the group to view the Damien Hirst exhibition before it opens. Having the curator describe the pieces and the ethos behind the collection was extremely beneficial.

    The Artist Room collection consisted of only five pieces. However, the exhibition spans over three rooms as Damien Hirst, not involved with Artist Rooms, agreed to contribute for this exhibition. (Damien, while born in Bristol was schooled and trained in Leeds. ) This is the first time an artist exhibited in a public art gallery, got personally involved. The first challenge was working with everyone involved to make it work.

    Leeds Art Gallery

    Both curators, Nigel Walsh and Sarah Brown shared their feelings and thoughts about the exhibition while allowing us to form our own opinions along the way.  The first room we were invited to was probably the most controversial. I have never seen a Damien piece ‘in real life’ and have tried my best to not let others opinions affect mine.

    When I first walked into the room, my eyes were immediately drawn, not to the infamous sheep in formaldehyde, but to the marble statue which I only briefly saw from the back and looked completely out of place in this exhibition.

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    July 9th, 2011mardixonLiteracy

    The Wenlock Olympian Society hosted their 125th games on the gorgeous new fields at William Penny Brooke school**.  As a member of the Society, I volunteer to help Paul Hutchinson document (film) the days events.  Paul owns the very successful Virtual Shropshire and is the official video-grapher for the games.

    As part of the day, we interviewed as many people as we could from Event organisers, President of the Society, car park detail, program sellers and everyone in between.  It was a fascinating day to get to listen to the stories that every volunteer had to share. 

    A few weeks ago, we were told there was a special guest attending  – Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport who would be escorted by our Local MP Phillip Dunne.  It was already agreed that the Society would have dedicated interview time with him and that Helen, the Society Press Secretary, would interview him first, and I would interview him after. 

    Then the News of the World scandal hit this week which related to BSkyB.  Up until his arrival, we were unsure of how the events of the days would be – would he still arrive? Would we be granted an interview? If yes, would we be limited in what was asked?

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    July 7th, 2011mardixonLiteracy

    This week, Johanna Anderson put out a tweet asking if anyone wanted to join them in Birmingham for a court hearing regarding libraries.  As it happened, I was able to arrange my schedule to be able to attend.  To be completely honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what the hearing was about, but felt as it was virtually on my door step, I should show my support, if nothing else by just being there (which is essentially all I did).

    These articles tell the story:

    The BookSeller 


    If you prefer the Twitter version:

    @MarDixon #savelibraries They secured judicial review AND no libraries will close – woot! Well done @Jo_Bo_Anderson & team for all the hard work.


    Meeting Johanna, Nancy Graham and Demelza was the icing on the top.  These stanch library advocates feed of each others energy throughout the day (as did I!).  The court hearing itself would have been much more intimidating had it not been for us knowing we weren’t alone. 

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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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