@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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    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.

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    July 1st, 2014mardixonCulture

    I was not going to write about ACE Funding / NPO Day but I’ve been following the stream on Twitter since 7.30am and can’t believe some of the emotions coming out in 140 characters.

    Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 09.55.50As someone who has a major hate/hate relationship with ACE, it’s easy for me to spend my time bashing them and their work.  [For the record, my issue is to do with their forms, not the people!] But this isn’t about that.

    Starting at about 8.30, I started to see congratulatory tweets – mainly theater based companies.  By 9.30 the hashtag was overrun with … really don’t want to say winners and losers.  How about we say successful and unsuccessful applicants.


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    December 16th, 2012mardixonCulture

    takeover_logoTakeover Day is an initiative created by the Children’s Commissioner in England in which every sector (public and private sector) is invited/encouraged to allow kids to take over for the day.  Kids in Museums runs the museums sector.

    This year, the Children’s Commissioner of Wales took part with a Taking Over Day for museums for the first time.

    Over 1500 children and young people – from toddlers to young adults – took over 85 museums on Takeover Day 2012 on Friday 23rd November. Museum directors, front of house staff, curators, conservators, website designers and catering staff were replaced by children.

    Once again, I had the privilege of travelling with Paul Hutchinson from Virtual Shropshire to several venues to capture Takeover Day / Taking Over Day 2012 on film (or digital…).

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    November 26th, 2012mardixonCulture

    On Tuesday November 20th, Paul Hutchinson from Virtual Shropshire and I made our way to the National Slate Museum in North Wales to cover Taking Over Day for Kids in Museums.  This was the first time Wales participated in this event.

    The National Slate Museum is very similar to Blists Hill in Ironbridge for those who have been there – it’s an open air museum that consist of working machinery and buildings to help bring to life the history of Welsh slate industry.

    Did I mention the rain?  It was pouring. A lot.

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    October 28th, 2012mardixonCulture, International

    On Oct 25th I attended a conference that was essentially a wrap up of the fabulous work done by teens within the Stories of the World project.  Stories of the World was an initiative related to London 2012 Cultural Olympiad ‘Inspire a Generation’ which worked with young people in partnership with curators to ‘uncover objects that tell stories that resonate with their interests.’ Read the rest of this entry »

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    September 27th, 2012mardixonCulture, International

    Teenagers are a hard to label group, although many have tried: Millennials, Generation We, Global Generation, the Millennial Generation, and Generation Next.  Regardless of the title we or anyone else give them, the fact is they are currently a stealth group in the cultural world — but this, happily, is changing.

    Internationally, Teens in Museums and Culture are slowly getting the respect, time and resources needed to help build programs that they want, rather than programs that we think they want or that tick boxes. This is due to an influx of dedicated personnel who are inviting teens in to museums, taking the time to listen, and providing them the space and opportunity to let them create their own programs, to be involved in new exhibitions, and to have an impact on institutions and culture in their communities.

    Donnie gives a presentation on Robert Gober’s “Untitled.” He created a painting and poem in response to the work. Photo by Jessica Janzer (MAM)

    At the very least, every program should provide a platform for teens to share their thoughts, ideas, and passions.  If resources allow, progressive programs should assist the teens in providing them a channel to convert the ideas into a reality. For example, let them take over an area in the museum or gallery and listen to where they want the placement of artefacts. Or allow them to change the labels to be teen friendlier (and in ‘Plain English’). Share their voices with those of senior staff members and vice versa.

    Many of us know of, or have at least heard of, programs like this.  The real challenge is sustainability.  How can we ensure the ‘Millennial Generation’ are allowed to forge their mark in the cultural world in a way that is both meaningful and realistic but also provides value to museums and galleries, as well as their visitors?

    This challenge is different for each venue.

    Excellent examples in the United States include Milwaukee Art Museum, Museum Teen Summit, and the Smithsonian EdLab; here within the UK, the Museum of London’s Youth Panel and Wolverhampton Art Gallery’s Art Forum each provide a dedicated platform for teens to work with the venue on a long-term bases, and most importantly with purpose.

    Purpose, we feel, is key.

    Being a teenager is difficult; you’re finding your feet. You’re not a child anymore, but you’re not quite an adult. You don’t want to be patronised, but you still need guidance while you establish yourself and gain confidence. So purpose and value is crucial. If what you are doing has a result and will change, enhance, or enrich yourself, the cultural institution, and/or the local, national, or global community, then it has purpose. It’s not an easy balance to achieve but it can be done, and we’ve seen it being done well.

    With all this in mind, we felt an International Teens in Museum Decree/Manifesto was required.

    1. Listen to what Teens are saying. Answer their questions, question them, and work together to find answers and solutions.
    2. Engage with Teens; don’t patronize them.
    3. Provide achievable challenges which can created sustainable solutions.
    4. Promote learning as a challenge for Teens to solve.
    5. Create an environment where Teens can explore digital media where appropriate.
    6. Bring teens into projects from the start, not as an after thought.
    7. Provide adequate space and time for challenges to be achieved.
    8. Be flexible.  Many teens can’t commit to meeting same time every week.
    9. Don’t make assumptions. (For example, not all Teens have Facebook or iPhones.)
    10. Let teens actively build your institution’s assets.

    What are your thoughts? Are you working with teens?  If so, we’d love to hear from you!  

    Please note: a website and Twitter account are coming soon so watch this space! 


    Teens in Museums is a coalition with Mar Dixon, Milwaukee Art Museum, Museum Teen Summit, and the Smithsonian EdLab. If you would like your venue to get involved, please email. 

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    September 21st, 2012mardixonCulture, International

    These are trends captured along the way.  If anyone has any other data we can add, please let me know.

    I’ve managed to capture over 12K tweets from 8am-11:30pm UK Time (closer to 13K as I missed some).


    08:00 @erikajoy fabulous Pinterest created from asking  What makes object/artwork in your collection makes you laugh?  already popular. Read the rest of this entry »

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    August 7th, 2012mardixonCulture

    I recently attended the Stories of the World in Arts in Parliament event which showcased the culminative work that has been worked on by young curators over the past few years as part of the Cultural Olympiad.

    To say I was impressed in a huge understatement.  The young curators showed their work with such pride – I was extremely privileged to have been invited to witness to this event.

    One young curator I saw there was Belinda Li, whom I happen to meet while I was at MuseumNext this year.  I asked her to write a guest blog to share the experience of what  it was like to take part in Cultural Olympiad.

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    April 3rd, 2012mardixonCulture, International

    How do you create a space for teens that supports engagement?

    I’ll explore some of the ways I’ve been working towards that goal in Milwaukee through our Satellite High School Program, a series of gallery sessions that focus on art history and interpretation. All of the quotes are from teens who were in the program.

    Respect your teens

    “I liked being able to share my opinion and hearing others’ opinions to learn more—having other artists [i.e., other teens] that are helping you understand a concept.” Read the rest of this entry »

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    March 1st, 2012mardixonCulture

    I was able to read and tweet my thoughts the day the Cultural Education in England (#culturehenley) report came out.  While there have been some lovely summaries, I have decided to ‘Storify’ my tweets as they were produced while I read the report (eg are raw and real thoughts).

    Cultural Education in England http://bit.ly/yEcC5h #culturehenley (Official report now online)

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