@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 1st, 2018mardixonCulture

    To celebrate what would have been Michael Jackson’s 60th year (his birthday would have been August 29th), National Portrait Gallery has a blockbuster summer exhibition called Michael Jackson On The Wall.

     

    Curated by Director Dr Nicholas Cullinan, the exhibition is spread over 14 rooms, each named appropriately like:

    • King of Pop (6)
    • Off The Wall (11)
    • Man in the Mirror (13)

    Overall there are over 48 artists are featured including my favorites Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Grayson Perry. While I must admit I was never a huge fan on Michael Jackson (although did have tickets to the first night of what would have been his ‘last concert’), NPG has done a really good job in showing the many layers of Michael Jackson, from personal to professional. Read the rest of this entry »

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    May 15th, 2018mardixonCulture

    On May 19th 2018, The Royal Academy will open it’s doors once again to celebrate its 250th Anniversary but we were lucky enough to get a sneak peek this week.

    Arriving for the press preview with Laura Porter on a very sunny day, the RA was doing it’s best from the outside to show off despite some of the construction still going on but it was really the inside I was interested in because the RA recently has a major redevelopment to expand the physical space and also their programming.  Now, there truly is something for everyone!

    Let’s be clear, the RA has been and always will be for everyone, but because it was always ticketed events, not everyone felt they could afford to go.  The new Weston Bridge between Burlington House and Burlington Gardens completely transforms it! There is now 70% more public space.

    I personally loved how architects David Chipperfield managed to be sympathetic to the old of the building whilst folding new and progression throughout, details of which could be seen throughout the RA.

    There were many highlights:

    Collection Gallery – which is completely free to the public – will show a lot (obviously not all) art that used to be behind the scenes or in storage.  For example:

    Michelangelo’s Taddei Tondo

    Full scale copy of Leonardo’s Last Supper (which when Laura and I were looking at it a lot of press asked us to stay and take more pictures …

    Maurice Davies, Head of Collections in a recent interview said they wanted the Collection Gallery ‘There’s a great temptation to use the Collection Gallery as an opportunity to teach art history, but the most important thing I want people to do is to look closely at the works of art. Teaching history and telling stories should be done in a way that encourages people actually to look at the works.’ (RA250 magazine)

    Benjamin West Lecture Theatre – an amazing space that didn’t exist before.  Actually there was a floor that ran over the top before the architects managed to create this amazing theatre! Creating a space where people can have discussions which is engaging and open will make such a difference! There are 259 seats and very accessible (despite the steps).

     

    I was also impressed that right next to the Dorfman Senate Cafe you can find the Architecture Studio. A creative space that will involve and invite audience engagement. It was still being set up when we were there but we were told the program will allow people bring their coffee or wine to see art.  Again, open, not barriers!

     

    I failed to take pictures of the new learning center but once a month they host free drop in sessions for children of all ages!

    Also, lets all admit, RA has always been good about picture taking.

    I’m going to end with the most impressive press release ever – a ‘Royal Academy of Arts in Numbers’

    • 1 Annual rent for Burlington House is £1 on a lease for 999 years
    • 2 Female founders of the RA
    • 3 Number of years students in RA schools study (and was it mentioned they go for free?)
    • 4 Officers of the RA
    • 5 Top 5 paid for exhibitions in London in the last 10 years
    • 12 Red Collars, RA security team
    • 10 Temp exhibitions for 2018
    • 12.7 Million pounds from National Lottery for redevelopment
    • 13 Royal Academicians sit on the council
    • 17 Artists are the maximum number per year admitted
    • 22 Artists and architects signed a petition calling for King George III to support RA
    • 26 26th President is currently Christopher Le Brun
    • 36 Artists and Architects signed Instrument of Foundation to establish RA December 10 1768
    • 50 Students taking part in only free 3 year postgrad art course
    • SKIPPING SOME
    • 230 Objects from RA Collections will be on free display from 2018
    • 250 Obviously years of the RA

     

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    April 27th, 2018mardixonCulture

    I just moved to London, so when Mar pings me asking if I’d like to head along to The Courtauld Institute’s #ResFest on Wednesday 25th April, I jump at the chance to mingle with some like-minded culture lovers.

    The programme promises discussion on how the London Fatberg is a metaphor for Brexit, a free G&T on arrival and an evening jam-packed with interesting talks on the future of art history. I’m intrigued.

    #ResFest is a night festival celebrating the connection and the collaboration between The Courtauld Institute and The Courtauld Gallery, both of which are part of Somerset House. The program includes lightning talks, performances, exhibits, bars and food trucks, and the overall goal of the event is to demonstrate how crucial art history is today. It’s a night where some of the best and brightest in the academic and cultural sectors ask big questions about the state of play in the art world, and how the future health of culture and society hinges on our ability to address and confront these questions head-on. Read the rest of this entry »

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    April 18th, 2018mardixonCulture, Personal

    Back in December, I was looking at loads of things: my 2018 schedule, the museum sector, London, etc etc.  I noticed the museum sector was looking a bit – well there are a lot of changes happening (some for the good, some not so good) and wanted to inject some energy back into the sector.  So I took to social media:

    I decided to run a #MuseumMarathon – where anyone who signed up would walk to 26+ museums on the day to raise money for charity.  I didn’t know what museums or what charity but shared the idea anyway.  There was over 70 people who showed interest that week!

    Within a few weeks (ok maybe it was February?) things started to take a bit more shape.  Original charities such as raising money for Gay Pride and Arts Emergency (both great causes) were put aside for Autism in Museums – it’s not a charity but a very worth cause! (For the record, Gay Pride would be to raise money for museum people walking in the parade but found out that is sorted.) Read the rest of this entry »

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    February 26th, 2018mardixonCulture, Personal

    If you haven’t heard there will be another #MuseumMarathon in London on April 15th 2018.  We will be raising funds for Autism in Museum run by Claire Madge.  Here she explains why – and if you’d like to donate please see our Go Fund Me Page

    It was back in the mists of time, 2013 to be exact, I had barely gotten sucked into the museum world when I took part in the first Museum Marathon. I met Mar Dixon for the first time, along with a lot of other museum devotees.

    We walked to 26 London museums in one day, many of those museums I never even knew existed and we raised money for Guide Dogs for the Blind a charity chosen by the organiser David Mentiply. It was a tiring, fun filled, sore footed day and luckily for all you who missed out the first time we are going to do it all over again! 

    On the 15th April 2018 we will be visiting another 26-31 museums in one day (shout out to Mikaela Webb for working on the map!). Mar has decided to raise money for Autism in Museums which is fantastic. But since I am not actually a charity this has raised a few problems. After much careful thought and consideration any money raised will purchase sensory equipment that museums can apply for to either supplement their existing autism offer or support a more inclusive approach to welcoming autistic visitors. The money will also go towards supporting work experience placements for young autistic adults in museums.

    I will be putting together a panel of young autistic people aged 18-25 who will help decide how the money should be spent and where. I hope this will foster some long-lasting relationships between the autism community and the museum community.

    For those who know me this is a very important issue to my family. I have two autistic children and we visited museums for the first time because of the supportive autism programmes they run. I wrote a blog about our first visit to the Science Museum Early Birds Autism event – you can read it here, I hope it shows why autism in museums is so vital.

    Museum Marathon is going to be a great opportunity to meet new people, reacquaint yourself with old friends, visit a whole load of museums and have a truly amazing (tiring) day. If you are museum obsessed then this is the ultimate experience for you. If you do want to raise money for Autism in Museums please see the link Mar has set up, if you just want to join us on the day please don’t feel you have to donate money to be a part of Museum Marathon.

    I have spent the last five years working really hard to raise awareness of Autism in Museums because I can see the difference it makes to families who often feel isolated. I will be writing a series of blogs about how to apply for sensory equipment and how the money will be spent. If you are interested in getting involved in any way please get in touch with Mar or you can email me at TinctureofMuseum@gmail.com

     Thank you so much and see you on the 15th!!!!

     Claire Madge, Tincture of Museum

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    July 16th, 2017mardixonCulture

    On July 14th Natural History Museum in London re-opened Hintze Hall after a temporary closure for 6 months. The closure was not one that came without comments and controversy – it was to remove the beloved Dippy Dinosaur to replace it with the Blue Whale.

    Controversy

    People absolutely adore Dippy – they have fond memories of walking into Hintze Hall for the fist time (of many) and seeing the beautiful and cheeky Dippy the Dinosaur. He has been there since 1979 (before he was Reptile Gallery now Human Biology). To clarify – Dippy has NOT always been in the hall (ask that generation that remembers the elephants…)

    Now I absolutely Love Dippy. I even was involved with the ‘I Love Dippy’ campaign NHM put on a few years ago (seriously). I have supported the idea of Hintze Hall changing even though a part of me was nervous. However, trusting the people who run the museums was easier as they were transparent. Plans were available for public, discussions were public.

    Blue Whale Vs Dippy

    First of all, if you haven’t noticed, I was #TeamWhale since the first announcement althoughmy love of Dippy meant most assumed I was #TeamDippy. Let me explain why:

    Natural History Museum is my favorite museum in the world. Honestly.  And I’ve been to a lot internationally.  It’s never been about the collection and I’ve always been honest to them about it. My love has always been about how I felt seeing the building then experiencing it. The building has an amazing energy, the collection is almost a bonus!

    The museum has a very confusing personality: It’s a family museum, it’s a natural history museum, it’s a geography museum, it’s a dinosaur museum, and of course it’s a research museum.

    That last one is the most important: Natural History Museum is about research and conservation. FIRST. While public facing means they have to be for all, they truly have had an original mission they have with conservation.

    This is why the Blue Whale in the new Hintze Hall made complete sense. Hope, as the Blue Whale displayed is now called, was a Blue Whale beached in Wexford Harbour Ireland in 1891 (ten years after NHM opened). It was purchased by the museum and put on display in 1934 in the Mammal Hall. The Blue Whale is the first species humans globally decided to conserve. It took until 1966 for the decision to be made but by then NHM and others have already started the research.

    Dippy is about an extinct reptiles (the past) while Hope is about conservation (the future) Also need to point out that Dippy was a plaster cast replica – it never actually existed! The Blue Whale has.  And this is what NHM future is about. Yes we need to remember and respect the past but we also need to look to the future for lessons.

    Opening of Hintze Hall

    Being at the opening on the new Hintze Hall is a memory I will never forget. Being one of the first to see the spectacular Hope along with the new displays around both the first and second floor was emotional if I’m honest.

    After seeing Hope hung stunningly along the rafters, please ensure you have a look around the bays along the sides. They are broken up into two sections (following along with the building – Western side conservation and Eastern side Extinction):

    Easter Wonder Bays with American mastodon, Mantellisaurus, Fossil trees, Banded iron formation, and a Imilac meteorite

    Western Wonder Bays with Giraffes, Turbinaris coral, blue marlin, seaweeds and insects.

    ‘Putting our blue whale, Hope, at the centre of the Museum, between living species on the West and extinct species on the East, is a powerful reminder of the fragility of life and the responsibility we have towards our planet. ” Sir Michael Dixon

    I was fortunate to have a one to one chat with Sir Michael Dixon, Director of Natural History Museum. While we stood up on the second floor looking down on the new hall, he explained some of the challenges outside the Team Whale vs Team Dippy (which he didn’t know it was named that and found it humorous). We talked about the conflict of the museums personality, how much thought has gone into the new design and why it matters.

    For the new design, on the second floor they have very large display cabinet with collections that reach way about what any normal eye line would be. Sir Dixon explained this was so people on the first floor will look up and explore upstairs, something they have struggled with the public during before. Also there are several items which are being displayed in a way never attempted before (the Seaweed and Blue Marlin were examples provided).

    Natural History Museum is always worth a trip but no more than ever you should ensure it is on your list of museums to visit. Also a reminder that NHM is right next to the wonderful Science Museum and V&A (Victoria and Albert Museum).

    For those who still want Dippy back, please go see him while he tours around the Uk!

    Each partner will use Dippy’s visit to showcase their local nature and natural history collections, building partnerships between regional cultural, scientific and wildlife organisations. For more details, see their website.

    And do let me know if you can see Hope or Dippy on Tour!  Would love to know your thoughts!

     

    360˚ video of the new #HintzeHall

    Enjoy a 360˚ look at Hope the #BlueWhale and the new #HintzeHall during today's exclusive preview for the winner of our Hintze Hall free prize draw, and the runners-up. We had nearly 17,000 entries to the draw and the lucky winner was Laura Willis. We hope she and her guests, and the runners-up all enjoyed the morning before we opened to the public for the day.

    Posted by Natural History Museum, London on Friday, 14 July 2017

     

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    April 4th, 2017mardixonCulture, International

    I was incredibly fortunate enough to get a look at Sir John Soane’s Museum latest exhibition Marc Quinn: Drawn from Life whilst recently in London.

    Each of the twelve sculptures is created from casts of Quinn and his muse, the dancer Jenny Bastet, in a series of embraces. Their interlinked arms appear to be fighting, loving, holding or supporting – or even all at once – reflecting Quinn’s recurring fascination with the physical ambiguities of human emotion.

    Marc Quinn marries together the architecture beauty of the Soane’s Museum with contemporary art in a very sympathetic way.  I personally loved how each piece seem to have been at the location for years.  As I was there, some people walked right by without even recognizing it was a different piece.  That to me is a great sign of fitting in.

     

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    February 10th, 2017mardixonCulture

    It’s been awhile since I did a review and there are two amazing exhibitions I recently saw in London, the first was the David Hockey exhibition and second is Robots at the Science Museum.

    I was fortunate to be able to attend the David Hockney press preview whilst in London.  Normally press previews are very nice events that give you time to explore the art without a lot of people and fuss.  There is also a few talks, usually from the curator, sometimes it’s the press people.  And there is usually tea/coffee and biscuits.

    This press preview was completely different.

    It. Was. PACKED.  And I mean wall to wall with people writing, photographing and filming.  I was able to go through in my normal style, pretty rushed in each room, go back the opposite way and then through again to see what I missed.  The problem: normally I go into a room to find just one or two things I like (it something me and Charlotte have always done to avoid art fatigue) but with this exhibition that was impossible – I *liked* everything!

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    August 5th, 2016mardixonCulture, Tech

    IMG_3299This week, Charlotte and I managed to do The Lost Palace experience. I’ve known about The Lost Palace since Timothy Powell told me about the idea back in late 2014/2015.

    The concept: Bring Europe’s largest palace ‘back to life’ 300 years after it burnt to the ground. Hear, touch and feel the past using new immersive technology.

    The technology is what I was most interested in. The Lost Palace started with an open call for proposals from makers, creators, dreamers, technologist and more. There were 5 £10,000 proposals available. Their remit was relatively lose: Read the rest of this entry »

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    March 13th, 2016mardixonCulture, International, Tech

    Cultural Tourism WorkshopThe second London Cultural Tourism workshop took place March 7th at City Hall in London. I was asked to facilitate the day by a great team including Creative Tourist and Mike Clewley from Greater London Authority office. The original idea was a traditional type of day – speakers, delegates listening and time for Q&A. However, the more we talked it was clear this wasn’t the right framework.

    The day needed to be a hybrid of speakers and time for delegates to speak – not just ask questions. The format was an awesome Keynote from You Me Bum Bum Train (whose name I spent ages trying to say without laughing) followed by a 4 person panel with each speaker speaking for 2-minutes (and yes, I did time it and glare if they went over) then breakout sessions that were run as an unconference.

    A LOT was going on but I’m a firm believer in creativity comes in all paces.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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