@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
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    July 30th, 2011mardixonCulture

    Please take this very short and quick survey to help us evaluate the impact of social media within the Cultural Sector.

    Social Media in the Culture Sector:   http://t.co/iTJkFtU 

    Please note:

    • This survey is being run by Mar Dixon (@MarDixon) to be shared with everyone.
    • All data recorded will be kept anonymous, however, some data might be shared (such as quotes, etc).
    Thank you!
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    July 23rd, 2011mardixonCulture

    Ever wanted to try rock climbing? Maybe see what it was like to have a go at archery?  Or wonder what it was like to wear a mask and fence?  Charlotte and I were able to do all that and more this weekend at Ironbridge Gorge Museums Science, Sport, Life Festival at Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron and ALL for free.  

    The first activity Charlotte tried was rock climbing. She wasn’t too sure about this at first, but soon got the hang of it and was reaching the top of the fabulous portable rock climbing wall provided by Wolf Mountain. 

    We then went inside Enguinity’s lecture hall to listen to an inspiring talk by Anna Turney, Paralympian Alpine Ski Racer.  She described her courageous career change from able-bodied snowboarder to Paralympic skier after being paralysed while snowboarding.  She is a true inspiration not just to athletes but to everyone.


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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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    June 29th, 2011mardixonCulture

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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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