@MarDixon Passionate about culture. Champion for the next generation of Cultural visitors. Defender of Libraries. Digital, Wearable Tech Enthusiast. Sharing knowledge. Troublemaker and/or advocate, depending on what you need.
  • scissors
    December 20th, 2016mardixonCulture, International

    I realise I haven’t updated my website in a bit but it’s not lack of thoughts to share (more of a lack of time from travelling).  This issue has been brewing for awhile as it’s an international issue that not many seem to speak about.  The current ‘hot topic’ is inclusion which I 100% support but only if it’s done with respect and not like the Young People in museum topic (when funding left, the young people were left with nothing to see for their work). However, this topic is even better IMO as without good people, nothing we do it going to matter! 

    Credit: Tijana Tasich

    As a cultural sector we leave 2016 with even more uncertainty than when it started. Lots of events have happened this year that we had no control of, decisions made we might not agree with and the impact of some of those decisions still relatively unknown. 2017 will give us some answers, but will it give us any more security? Doubtful.

    With that in mind as a sector what can we do for the year ahead? Do we just brace ourselves for impact or do we steer ourselves to where we might be in a better position to survive?

    One thing is for sure, we are getting used to being battered. Our sector has taken some of the biggest hits of austerity compared to any other sector of equal size. Each year we deal with less funding, less resources and less staff and I’m pretty sure 2017 won’t be any different.

    The bigger question for 2017 is what have we learnt?

    If we are now so bruised from a tidal wave of cuts, what have we done to prevent absolute catastrophe, (most of you reading this are survivors, still working in the sector and many of you in museums that have not closed) what have we learnt from each other to prevent the next wave hitting us even harder? Hmmmmm

    Read the rest of this entry »

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  • scissors
    December 10th, 2016mardixonCulture, International

    First, a big thank you to everyone who took part, followed, liked, and got involved with @52Museums on Instagram and Twitter in 2016.  It grew bigger than anyone could have expected.  The evaluation will be shared (once there has been time to process it!)

    You can find more information about what it is and how it works here.

    The 2017 schedule (and yes this is draft as changes throughout the year does happen):

    Please note: if you would like to be on the waiting list, please sign up here.

     

    DateMuseum NameCountryInstagramMuseum NameCountryInstagram
    Jan 2-8Crow Collection of Asian ArtUSA@crowcollection
    Jan 9-15V&A Museum of ChildhoodUKmuseumchildhoodPretend City Children's MuseumUSA@pretendcity
    Jan 16-22Canada's Sports Hall of FameCanadaCansportshall
    Jan 23-29Royal Museums of Fine Arts of BelgiumBelgiumfineartsbelgiumVejen Art MuseumDenmarkVejenkunstmuseum
    Jan 30-Feb 5Des Moines Art CenterUSA@desmoinesartcenter
    Feb 6-12transmedialeGermany@transmediale
    Feb 13-19Westminster Abbey LondonUK@westminsterabbeylondon
    Feb 20-26MAK ViennaAustriamak_viennaClark Art InstituteUSAclarkart
    Feb 27-Mar 5Kalamazoo Valley MuseumUSAkalamazoomuseumMuseum of Latin American Art (MOLAA)USA@molaaart
    Mar 6-Mar 12Museum at FITUSAmuseumatfit
    Mar13-19Women in ArtsUSAwomeninthearts
    Mar 20-26National Museum of American Jewish HistoryUSA@AmericanJewishMuseumHolcaust Museum HoustonUSA@HMHou
    Mar 27-Apr 2Bendigo Art GalleryAustraliabendigoartgalleryMigration MuseumAustraliamigration_museum
    Apr 3-9Lee Kong Chian Natural History MuseumSingapore@lkcnhm
    Apr 10-16The National Maritime Museum (Het Scheepvaartmuseum)Netherlandshetscheepvaartmuseumsubmarine force libary & museumUSAnautilusships_store
    Apr 17-23Casa BatllóBarcelonacasabatlloMusei di Fermo (Art + archaeology)Italy@museifermo
    Apr 24-30The Postal MuseumUKthepostalmuseumColorado Springs Pioneers MuseumUSA@cspioneersmuseum
    May 1-7Newark MuseumUSAnewarkmuseumMcMaster Museum of ArtCanadamacmuseum
    May 8-14Skagens MuseumDenmarkskagensmuseumAnchers HusDenmarkanchershus
    May 15-21Science MuseumUKsciencemuseum
    May 22-28JFK Presidential Library & Museum (this is the week leading up to the JFK Centennial)USAJfklibraryGeorge Eastman MuseumUSAEastmanMuseum
    May 29-Jun4The Davis Museum at Wellesley CollegeUSA@thedavismuseumMildred Lane Kemper Art Museum @ WUStLUSAkemperartmuseum
    Jun 5-11National Gallery of CanadaCanada@ngc_mbac
    Jun 12-18Museum Tinguely BaselSwitzerlandmuseumtinguely
    Jun 19-25Museu de Arte Sacra de São PauloBrasil@museuartesacra
    Jun 26-Jul 2The Foundling MuseumUKfoundlingmuseum
    Jul 3-9James A. Michener Art MuseumUSA@MichenerArtGlanmore National Historic SiteUSA@GlanmoreNHS
    Jul 10-16The Heckscher Museum of ArtUSA@heckschermuseumDordtYart-contemporary artNetherlandsDordtYart
    Jul 17-23Pera MuseumTurkey@peramuzesiDenver Art MuseumUSA@denverartmuseum
    Jul 24-30Museum of Contemporary Art in Krakow MOCAKPoland@mocak_krakow
    Jul 31 - Aug 6The Rockwell Museum, A Smithsonian AffiliateUSARockwellMuseumBirmingham Museum & Art GalleryUKbirmingham_mag
    Aug 7-13Chilliwack Museum and ArchivesCanada@chwkmuseumThe Buffalo History MuseumUSA@buffalohistorymuseum
    Aug 14-20Thomas Jefferson's MonticelloUSA@TJMonticelloDumbarton HouseUSA@DumbartonHouse
    Aug 21-27Sharjah Museums DepartmentUnited Arab Emirates@sharjahmuseums
    Aug 28-Sep 3Atlanta History CenterUSA@AtlantaHistoryCenter
    Sep 4-10The Museum of The Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot,Israelbeithatfutsot
    Sep 11-17The National GalleryUK@national_gallery
    Sep 18-24Pasadena Museum of California ArtUSApmcaonlineCraft & Folk Art MuseumUSA@cafam
    Sep 25-Oct 1Museu de Ciències Naturals de Barcelona (Catalonia) (contact with Cristina: comunicacioweb@bcn.cat)CatalonamuseucienciesChicago Academy of Sciences / Peggy Notebaert Nature MuseumUSA@naturemuseum
    Oct 2-8Cantor Arts CenterUSA@cantorarts
    Oct 9-15Museion Bozen/BolzanoItalymuseion_bzFreer|Sackler, Smithsonian's museum of Asian art (reopening on October 14)USAfreersackler
    Oct 16-22Houston Center for Contemporary CraftUSA@CraftHoustonUnited by Hand (https://www.crafthouston.org/exhibition/unitedbyhand/) and Future Tradition (https://www.crafthouston.org/exhibition/melissacody/)USA
    Oct 23-29National Museum of Civil War MedicineUSA@civilwarmedClara Barton Missing Soliders OfficeUSA
    Oct 30 -Nov 5Museo JumexMexicoMuseoJumexCONTEMPORARY ART
    Nov 6-12National Museum of the Marine CorpsUSAUSMCMuseumThe U.S. Dept of Defense Museums Nat. Museum of the U.S. Navy & Nat. Museum Health & Medicine would like to share the week with NMMC
    Nov 13-19Gatchina Palace and Estate Museum
    (or Getty Museum USA)
    Russiagatchinapalace_museum
    Nov 20-26Jewish Museum FrankfurtGermanyjuedischesmuseumffmPOLIN Museum of the History of Polish JewsPoland@polinmuseum
    Nov 27-Dec 3Craigleith Heritage DepotCanada@craigleithdepotOshawa MuseumCanada@oshawamuseum
    Dec 4-10The Corning Museum of GlassUSAcorningmuseumHerbert F. Johnson Museum of ArtUSA@hfjmuseum
    Dec 11-17Waterloo Region MuseumCanada@WRegionMuseumColchester MuseumsUK@colchestermuseums
    Dec 18-24Staatliches Museum Ägyptischer KunstGermanysmaek_muc
    Dec 25-31National Puppetry ArchiveUK

     

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  • scissors
    September 8th, 2016mardixonCulture, International, Tech

    instagram-1Since launching @52Museums I’ve been amazed to see the growth of museums on Instagram (yes it was happening before but this is my point of view). As the project has been running, more and more museums have contacted me to join in on the list and to say they are starting an Instagram account just because of @52Museums which is brilliant!

    Every museum who host @52Museums is asked to fill out an exit form at the end of their week. I will share the complete findings after we have a year in but the feedback has been very positive. All said they would do it again and all said they felt it was worthwhile. With this account they get the open instructions:

    • If you can post a few for LA time, East coast and Europe time that makes a difference.
    • Post 7-10 times a day – it sounds like a lot but really works with our current audience.
    • Try  things you can’t do on your own account.
    • HAVE FUN!

    Another project I run is @AskACurator Day (September 14th 2016 – eek!). There are over 1200 museums on the list to take part (with more signing up each day). It got me thinking that I should combine the @52Museums list with the @AskACurator list to make a ‘Master List’. Sounds simple enough, right?

    How wrong I was. But it has led to some insight that I’d like to share:

    Please note,Museums on Instagram form with link to list is here (I need to get over AskaCurator day before I have time to combine everything).

     

    Read the rest of this entry »

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  • scissors
    August 31st, 2016mardixonCulture, International

    Participation

    It’s a word we tend to use a lot but never really define as we also spend a lot of time pretending to think like the ‘user’ or ‘visitor’ – mapping out ways for the them to see the exhibition/collection with a sprinkle of ‘entertaining’ activities.

    However, us humans, we’re a funny lot. We don’t always behave as we’re expected. That could be due to translation (language barriers), rebelliousness (raises hand), miscommunication or boredom. Actually, feel free to insert your reason as I’m sure I haven’t covered them all.

    As someone fortunate enough to travel internationally and to visit a lot of museums, art galleries, national houses/parks, I get to see a lot of different ways the sector tries to interact with the visitors. Traditionally, we often see:

    • Family Backpacks
    • Maps
    • Audio Guides
    • Trails
    • Signage

    There are more but that’s to give you an idea. (Signage is one of the biggest areas I feel we are failing. Often walking through the front door is a big step but the journey to the front of house or reception is not always as obvious as we like to believe but we’ll leave that for another post.)

    anthropologyI love a bit of anthropology in a museum. Sometimes I’ll stand outside with my headphones in giving the impression I’m waiting for someone. Than I’ll go inside and continue to have my headphones on as I wander around – basically I am listening in on conversations but they don’t know that. It’s amazing how people will talk freely when they don’t think anyone is listening…

    A typical scenario is a family (of various size, for this I also mean grandparents, friends with kids, etc) that enter and try to figure out where the starting point is. Or a map. In fairness to museums, often there are wonderful Front of House that try to assist and breakdown any barriers but it’s often the family that are feeling to awkward to ask for help.

    The HAM Way

    When I was in Helsinki I noticed Helsinki Art Museum (HAM) had post-it notes for visitors to take when they enter. They were in the middle of the room on a standalone pedestal (and yes there are front of house people there also).  No barriers, no awkwardness.  People knew to go and take one.  They were also in 4 languages (Finnish, Russian, Chinese and English as they are the top visitors).

    It was such a genius concept on it’s own but the notes are so clever I had to share! I’m sure HAM wouldn’t mind anyone using these ideas (always best to credit them) or better yet – reach out to them and tell them how awesome they are!

    ham all notes

    ham don't look at the artworkDon’t Look at the Art Works: Look at the frames of the artworks. What would an artwork look like if the frames were different? Or if you’d take the frame off completely? Is the frame part of the piece of not? Read the rest of this entry »

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  • scissors
    August 15th, 2016mardixonCulture, International, Tech

    IMG_3696Something I’ve been thinking about lately is stories.  No not intellectual novels (although I do love a good book!) but stories on Snapchat and Instagram.  I’m the first to admit I’m not a strong Snapchat user but Instagram I get.

    However, since Instagram brought out Stories I’ve been trying to get my head around why… I mean yes I know it’s trying to compete with Snapchat but why do platforms feel the need to morph into it’s ‘competition’ instead of just letting it be? [Edit to add this article Snapchat is acquiring mobile search app Vurb for $110M+  Aug 15]

    I took to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram today to ask the simple question:

    What are your thoughts on @instagram Stories vs @Snapchat Stories? Do you use either? Trying to get more of an idea about them. Which do you prefer and why? #socialmedia

    Read the rest of this entry »

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  • scissors
    August 12th, 2016mardixonCulture, International, Tech

    Thank you to Adrienne Luce, Digital Engagement for the Getty Museum, for sharing this guest blog after posting about her experience on Facebook.  

    On Monday April 4, 2016 the Getty Center hosted its annual College Night event. Two Getty interns, Abby Keene and Ashley Medina, were on hand to help with the event. A few hours before the festivities began, Abby suggested that we try a Facebook Live broadcast and I thought, why not. So The Getty Museum’s first foray into the world of Facebook Live was completely spontaneous and done without any advance planning.

    Screen Shot 2016-08-12 at 16.09.26Our interns press the “Go Live” button and just like that we were broadcasting live from the Getty Center. The first Facebook Live video was a short 6-minute clip. After the broadcast was done, our Getty interns show me the stats. We had reached more than 30,000 Facebook feeds and the broadcast generated 258 reactions, comments and shares . Amazed by these impressive figures we decided to do more. Next up, our interns did a Facebook Live broadcast, about 7 minutes in length of one of our Museum educators talking about Van Gogh’s “Irises”. After the broadcast was finished, we saw that our reach had doubled. This time the broadcast reached 58,000+ Facebook feeds and had 1,429 reactions, comments and shares. We did a few more broadcasts from Getty College Night with each one, the numbers amazed us and we quickly realized the potential of this powerful platform. Read the rest of this entry »

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  • scissors
    July 21st, 2016mardixonCulture, International

    First, thank you to everyone who took part in #QueerMuseum on July 20th. It’s a topic that has been on my radar for a while and when asked to run it (by the lovely folks at @QueeringMuseum – follow them!) I felt now was the right time. Why? Well since starting CultureThemes, the world has progress in so many ways.

    My first time with a related exhibition was back in 2011 at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery with Matt Smith’s QueerMuseum exhibition. I admit, I didn’t know what it was about at first, I just remember Lucifer in green carnations and the WOW factor it had. Then I found out more and was so impressed with how Matt put on a Queer exhibition by selecting items in the collection that have always been on display.

    Last month was Gay Pride so July seemed the perfect time to run #QueerMuseum. Leeds had just ran a LGBT exhibition, BMAG has been a supporter and other museums had run LGBT exhibitions in the past so knew there’d be content.

    As always, I tried to leave interpretation to the sharer:

    Pride 2016 saw many museums take place (especially in London where the Museums Association (MA) team joined a host of other museum, archive and heritage professions to march at the London Pride parade)

    The idea, as ever, is open.

    • Have you had a LGBTQ+ exhibition or talk?
    • Do you feel there is something in your collection you feel could be #QueerMuseum related?
    • Are you part of a group is part of LGBTQ+ that wants to do more with museums and art galleries?
    • Or maybe you take Matt Smith’s approach and find ideas in a collection and explain why it looks like it could be in a #QueerMuseum exhibition.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    July 11th, 2016mardixonCulture, International, Tech

    Well this was a weekend and ½ – I thought most of the social media world would be consumed with sports – either Euro2016, Wimbledon or Grand Prix – but then I started seeing lots of PokemonGo sharing.

    Wait, what?

    Pokemon for those that don’t remember are characters from the 1985 tv show. As a Muppet Fan, I don’t judge those who are older and still in love with characters from their youth.

    This morning I asked:

    How long before museums feel they have to hop on the #PokemonGO bandwagon? 🙂

    UPDATE July 15:

    • Privacy issues have been resolved
    • It’s now available in the UK
    • It’s bringing new people to historic sites (I personally know this as heard young people -teens- walking around my historic town saying they never knew Bridgnorth had so much history!),
    • Museums are still trying to engage without being creepy
    • Everyone is trying to research why PokemonGo is so hot (my answer:  right timing, right place – AR tech is there -ok a little buggy- Pokemon is a great storyline and those who grew up with it are now at that ‘it’s cool again stage’ [as a Muppet fan I can totally relate!].
    • Some visitors are complaining but they are the ones that hate MuseumSelfie and other fun so no sympathy here 🙂
    • This is going to have other museums look to AR for solutions and I’m not convinced they should right now – at least not on their own (for their own app)
    • Martha Henson is doing a great round up of post – see here
    • You can now add a request stop (and presumably take a site off?) – see here
    • Now available in Italy, Spain and Portugal! 

    PokemonGo is the number one app and even though it’s not officially available (only in US, Australia & New Zealand) but other countries have managed work arounds (aren’t we’re a  clever society). [Edit to add: rumours are UK will be available this week.] [UPDATE IT’S AVAILABLE IN UK and boy do we know it!]

    My original question about museums using PokemanGO still goes unanswered. For me, I feel if your collection is relevant then yes! But please please please don’t force a fad into your museum if your visitors won’t appreciate it. There is a difference between jumping on a bandwagon and being ahead of a trend – know the difference.  But do know the faster the bubble grows the harder it will burst (aka security and stranger danger concerns coming up now.) 

    Should all museums do this? Of course not! This is almost tailored made for some museums though and by all means they should jump on the fun and go! Or be more like VAM and ask your visitors what they want:

    Pokémon just did museums a huge favor (maybe) from VAM

    Pokémon just did museums a huge favor (maybe) from VAM

    Is your collection right for this?  Would your visitors mind? Do you normally cater to families, young people?  The public can smell if you’re doing this for legit reasons or just to be in the media.  Please do encourage PokemonGo if you or your visitors finds one though!

    Credit: Brooklyn Museum Instagram

    Credit: Brooklyn Museum Instagram

    Just don’t be one of these museums if you’re going to do it:

    Not sure who to credit with this but thank you!

    Not sure who to credit with this but thank you!

    I’ll probably add more to this as this grow, but for now, I’ll leave you with this:

    When you’re thinking about adding PokemonGO to your museum or venue, remember you might find yourself explaining why the app is asking for a lot of permissions (camera, all contacts, etc). It’s all relevant to the game of course but people are more astute with permissions these days. (It’s more for demographics than stalking but still.) [Credit: Pokemon Go wants to catch (almost) all your permissions]

    Edit to add: I already mentioned the security which seems to be growing as a concern.  As the app is only available in NZ, Australia and US other countries are downloading the app … in creative ways.  Before as there have been reports of malware on several. 

    Additionally, be sure you’re aware of what you’re clicking when you give the app privacy permissions – it’s quite a lot! 

    And not that it’s totally relevant to museums and PokemonGo, but I just loved the title of this article:

    The numbers prove it: People would rather catch Pokémon than catch a date

    Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 11.15.11

     

    Edit to add:

    Said I would update and remarkable how much can happen in one day!

    Additionally there has been a lot of discussion on museums finding PokemonGo in their venues – that is great!  My concern isn’t about museums having fun (and if you know anything about me you shouldn’t have asked that) but that some will look into how to force this hot news to fit a remit that just isn’t the museums personality.

    What are your thoughts? 

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  • scissors
    June 15th, 2016mardixonCulture, International

    munmuseoI’m back from Helsinki where I was invited by Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE) to help produce and oversee an intense week-long framework for young people in Helsinki to take over 6 specific museums.

    The concept:

    Young people think up new ways of working #munmuseo events 

    Young people between 16-20 years of age and art museums in Helsinki will be working together to find new ways for the youngsters to embrace  the art museums´ artistic content and facilities.

    The establishments involved are  Amos Anderson Art Museum, Ateneum Art Museum, Design Museum, HAM Helsinki Art Museum, Kunsthalle Helsinki, Sinebrychoff Art Museum, thirty youngsters employed by the City of Helsinki  and six  youth workers coaching the youngsters. The munmuseo project run by the City of Helsinki Youth Department co-operation of the British Creativity, Culture and Education organization.  Read the rest of this entry »

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  • scissors
    June 13th, 2016mardixonCulture, Personal

    ‘But museums are free!’  I hear you say. 

    Yes, but many nationals and mostly in London (with exceptions). I live in lovely Shropshire where the story is very different. And my experience is the same in many rural areas.

    While this has been a topic for quite awhile the recent decision by the Field Museum in Chicago has made the topic come to light again.

    Why don’t museums/galleries give free entrance to local people?

    museums_free-for-allThis is a question I kept asking when Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery opened in April 2014 after being closed for 5 years for renovations and costing £10.7 million (£200,000 more than originally budgeted and delayed by 3 years) and then (after tax payers monies contributing to the renovation) they had the gall to charge an entrance fee – something they had said they would not do when asking for votes of approval.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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