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12 Sep 2018

Being a Museum Insider

I joined the Community Engagement team at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery (BMAG) in what was an extremely busy week for any museum team, days before an exhibition launch. I jumped right in because this exhibition was what I was here for. When I applied and interviewed for the placement, it was with the purpose of working in StoryLab, a testing gallery space at BMAG. If you haven’t heard of StoryLab and its unique methodology in the exploration of topics, please visit its current exhibition, Within and Without: Body Image and the Self on till February 2019 (shameless plug).

Joining at the time of the exhibition launch meant I got to witness the thought and discussion that went into the final placement of objects and art pieces, and the many details that went into organising a launch event, which was exciting. I was joining the team on an eight week student placement at the end of my Masters at the University of Leicester. My role within the Community Engagement team at BMAG was to conduct and co-ordinate the evaluation of the Within and Without exhibition. It included devising what evaluation testing methodologies were best suited in order to document the varied responses from visitors and coordinating with nine volunteers who gave their time to be in the gallery.  Read More...

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9 May 2018

Story LAB 2 - The Shaping of an Exhibition

How do you attempt to define as broad a theme as “Body Image”? The answer turns out to be not so much defining it but combining ideas between the collaborative minds of 8 people, each with their own unique interpretations and ready to bring refreshing perspectives to light... within just 10 weeks!

As complete strangers (headed by our Story LAB leaders, Hannah Graham and Rachael Minott of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery) we jumped in at the “brain dump” stage: the safe zone for all prospective ideas and subjects of discussion. The boundaries were soon to be redefined in both the minor and the extreme with a show vs tell introduction to storytelling by Fran, outlining a fluidity and ease in conveying more intense and visually challenging themes. There began the foundations on which to recreate a similar impact with our own stories, evolving from the literal writings (pinned) on the wall into how we could crack the shell of what we really wanted to present within the exhibition. Themes raging from colourism to the regeneration of cells, the interconnecting effects of the body and mind to ageing, gender roles and disability, became our platform as to how far we could go to engage with each other’s expression of Body Image and still leave it open to the wider interpretation of others. Read More...

29 Mar 2018

Disposable Cameras – Rejection of Perfection?

I am what they call a millennial. I was born in 1995 and struggle to recall a time where technology wasn’t a part of my life. I grew up with a Virgin Lobster flip phone which had an aerial and survived the washing machine several times. We had a family computer that sat in the hallway and had to be turned off when my Nan phoned the landline. Me and my brother spent Saturday’s on the PS1, trying to manoeuvre a blobby-looking Harry Potter through Quidditch hoops.

Yes, we grew up with technology. But we were not ruled by it. Crucially, social media didn’t rule our lives and photo editing didn’t become routine until we were in our late teens. Of course, when it became easy-peasy to use a filter here and zap a pimple there, we were quick to jump on it. Now, several years down the line, there is an underground rebellion of 90’s babies who are saying no to edited photographs, because, well, it’s just not cool anymore. Read More...

9 Mar 2018

Story LAB 2 - Body Image and Identity

Nestled between the Edward Burne-Jones and 18th century galleries is the Story LAB, a gallery created for testing storylines and methodologies for co curation and collaboration here at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The current exhibition in the space, The Past is Now, has been open since November 2017 and encourages visitor feedback as part of its design. From July 2018, we will launch a new story in the gallery around the theme of Body Image. It will have been designed, curated and interpreted with the help of expert partners, schools and our volunteer colLABorators.