Behind the scenes @ Acme Museum Services
Use the menu to find out more about my career WHO? Some free resources on WHY? and on WATCH! view some audio visual slideshows I have created. To contact try or call on 07811 144622.
IF YOU GO DOWN INTO THE WOODS soon...
So my first surprise job for the National Trust was to
organise the planning and build of a new treehouse at Chartwell in Kent, UK
inspired by the one Churchill built for his kids back in 1923. After a long
planning procedure we now will be building it this summer in the woods at Chartwell.
realised that treehouses fascinate people until I did some ‘market research’ at
Croydon Library last autumn. It was one of those topics that people smiled at
whatever their age. And then there is the history of treehouses
that involves hermit priests, vain princes, merry Parisians, DIY part-timers
and of course architects.
Meanwhile, I am also juggling for the National Trust at Chartwell (funded by the Heritage Lottery): managing a family guide leaflet; assisting oral history volunteers; followed by working with silversmiths and opera prop makers to make replicas of some of Winston’s favourite objects. The things we do in the heritage sector…
ENGAGE THOSE AUDIO SENSES - a call to museums, galleries and heritage sites.
week I had an epiphany on a family visit to High Lodge in Thetford Forest,
Norfolk. As well as wow huge outdoor play equipment and a sculpture trail they
have a… sound trail! When I looked at
the handy mini map, as provided by the Forestry Commission, I scratched my head
and said, “no way is this possible – sound interactives, outside?” Just then a military jet boomed overhead as it soared away from the airbase next door.
you imagine a more difficult brief than creating sounds in the middle of a
forest with no access to electricity or digital technology? So the designers
came up with low-tech methods including squeaky woodwind ‘cushions’ you could jump on
(see photo above) and huge metal glockenspiels! This really slowed down my
family as we all wanted to have a go on these simple interactives. It created a
special atmosphere as we became aware of the different areas of the forest.
This Thetford Forest experience made me realise (again) that many museums, galleries and heritage sites are not daring to use simple audio interactives as a method to engage their visitors with a vital sensory tool. Perhaps they cannot be prepared to take risks (attitude or budgets?) like the Forestry Commission can? We should all go down into the woods today and discover simple audio ideas before the bears start their picnic.
TUDOR DISCO or experiments with a ceiling, mirrors and a torch.
Last month I was busy training the staff at the Cowdray Heritage Trust with a new style of tour in the empty shell of the Cowdray Ruins. This was once a huge mansion damaged in 1793 by fire then ivy and the weather. To help staff interpret the stories I tested simple low-tech props (inspired by the classic BBC TV game show The Generation Game) for visitors to use.
My favourite ‘room’ is the Tudor Porch of Honour built for Henry VIII. It has the remains of an amazing Renaissance carving on the ceiling. This space became my ‘play’ laboratory as I used different types of mirrors to view the detail such as finding four faces hidden in all the delicate carvings. I then pondered about the use of colour.
Historians think that gold leaf and bright bold colours would have covered this ceiling. Today it is just a plain sand colour. As it’s a Grade 1 listed property you can’t stick anything on it. But you can project light on it. After some on-line research I used an LED flashlight with rotating stage light (or disco torch - costs a tenner). The idea is that the guide chooses a visitor with long arms and they point the torch to the centre of the ceiling and look up in awe, see the photos above. This simple use of projected colour gives an idea of the use of bling used to decorate the Porch. From Tudor to Disco…
What’s in my kitbag? Part 2. TRAVEL JOURNALS.
The most essential bit of my kit are travel journals. I used tiny lined notebooks from Rymans which were fine for lists but useless to show ideas in meetings. But, one day I walked into an art store and discovered the Seawhite of Brighton travel journals. These books for me are a mixture of a notebook and sketchpad, with heavy cartridge paper ideal for: doodles, spider diagram plans or even water colour drawing. The A6 versions have alternate lined pages. They also have a ‘secret’ inner pocket so you can keep business cards or old ticket stubs or anything else wee.
The other big advantage of these travel journals is that they have a chunky feel and are protected by hardback cover (ideal for tea mugs) with a handy elasticated band to keep the book closed. At the moment I have 2 journals on the go, an A5 for work ideas and an A6 for everyday inspiration and doodles, see the photo above. I also use the A6 travel journals as a mini scrapbook if anything from newspapers or magazines catches my eye. I often use the A5 travel journals for presentations as easy to show ideas in progress. Unlike smartphones the travel journals don’t need a battery.
What’s in my kitbag? Part 1. BASECAMP
I discovered Basecamp project management software in autumn 2015. The podcasters on Radiotopia at that time were raving about it as a very user-friendly experience and no Gantt charts in sight! I was amazed by the basic idea that it was a mixture of: a private Dropbox; private group email system (you invite your team or clients to join a particular project); and you create as many of lists of to-dos (or tasks/milestones). You gradually tick the tasks off when you meet that deadline. It gives you a very satisfied feeling that the list is getting shorter.
I started using Basecamp for behind-the-scenes organising and keeping in the loop all the main people involved in the comics exhibition ‘The Story of British Comics So Far…’ The clients at the Lightbox and my co-curator appreciated the group discussions we could start if one of us uploaded a document such a draft press release or image of a potential loan, see screenshot above.
And now the exhibition is finished the timeline of discussions is so valuable for evaluation and as an archive for future enquiries. Just have to watch the software price as started as £12 per month and then after the Brexit vote it has creeped up to £16. But, I think it’s worth it as an organisational tool. It has has helped me find and share documents or images very quickly rather than wasting time searching files on my laptop. And you can use it as an App on your smartphone.