George Braques seems to have been a rare combination of mad and boring, but he had a few pithy quotes I like to return to; one is:
‘Art is meant to disturb; science reassures.’
How fitting for our Creative Partners: makers, creators, scientists and coders and techies and experts all in one. Here, a brief overview of their showcase session.
First up was Steve Dey of Think See 3D, who is working with fellows Catriona and Melanie. Steve creates extraordinarily highly detailed 3D replicas and prints; having knocked around his workshop, it came as no surprise when he revealed a background in Physics, but spent summers creating and sculpting. Although he provides an unparalleled service, Steve is frank about the limits of these replicas. While they’re fantastic for access, they require equipment, processing, and skill, most of which is beyond the reach of the enthusiast or smaller heritage institution. Steve did, however, treat us to a fantastic case study of Igbo-Ukwu bronzes. These remarkable bronzes were found in a well in Nigeria in the ‘50s, and Steve’s company were commissioned to make replicas for British Museum education. In the end, the popularity of the bronzes in the British Nigerian community was astounding, culminating in a photo-shoot with (one of my personal heroes) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie holding a replica aloft. This tapped into what turned out to be a key ethical issue of the day: repatriation, and what to do about it. One suggestion was to flip the idea of sending replicas on its head: perhaps we (or rather our institutions) should create a 3D replica for our own collections, and send the original ‘home’. Food for thought.
Next was George ‘GLO’ Oates, CEO of Museum in a Box, partner in Jen and Abi’s projects. We learned much about the origin story of MIAB, including its roots in the Small Museum, a pilot in the form of, well, a small museum, at Somerset House in March 2015. The response was pretty excellent, including one user stating ‘I’ve learnt more here than in the British Museum’. Shade aside, the project outcomes became one of the formational tenets of MIAB: to revolutionise how we think the space of a museum works. This too allows for greater and wider access, for people who are limited by everything from geography to sensual impairment. GLO then gave us an overview of the company’s current pilot, ‘Make Your Own’, and some of the responses from the recipients of the Make Your Own kits— everyone from schoolkids to librarians to artists and (my personal favourite), farmers. All in all, George’s presentation showed us that we might be able to both take and make a museum, anywhere.