Tuesday, April 12, 2016

This Week, I Like…

Raise/Raze (Photo Credit: Hou de Sousa Studio)
Dezeen, a daily on-line architecture and design digest, often includes, “Today we like…” This edited selection of spaces, places, and objects may include bookshops, architecture in Wales, or design with chocolate.

On most days, a comparable slice-through with crisp thematic edges of what interests me is less obvious. There’s no, “This week I like…” exhibit moments that last a lifetime, or logic models that knock your socks off. Still in my weekly random, associative wonderings through journals, presentations, blog posts, museum visits, book covers, or landscape design, I do come upon images, ideas, phrases, frameworks, definitions, or designs that are intriguing, fresh, provocative. Something promising, if not thematic. Something that turns out to be the missing piece for a long-percolating post or sparks a new exploration. Something fresh and helpful for project work with a museum. Or perhaps some of all of these like these recent finds.

1. A view of learning. I was delighted to come upon a definition of learning in an article on tinkering and learning at the Exploratorium–and such an interesting one too. Staff in the Tinkering Studio drew on constructivist, constructionist, and socio-cultural theories of learning and their own experiences developing, implementing, and studying tinkering in the Studio. Their view of learning is a “process of being, doing, knowing, and becoming.” It takes into account various dimensions of learning including the connection between doing and knowing and the time necessary for learning. While this may not be the view of learning for every museum, every museum can construct a view of learning for its setting.
Related Museum Notes Posts:  Making and Tinkering: The Missing Piece

2. Anything Goes is an exhibit at the National Museum in Warsaw curated by a group of 69 children. Ranging in age from 6 to 14 years, children were selected on a first-come basis. They searched the collection, developed 6 themes, designed the exhibit, and worked on audio guides and collateral materials. The museum showed a high level of interest in the children’s ideas and perspectives as well as confidence in their capacity to work collaboratively. On the other hand, the article about the exhibit unwittingly minimizes the children’s accomplishment by noting what they don’t have–degrees and experience–and primarily casting their work as fun.
Related Museum Notes PostsMore Than Fun and Cute

3. Raise/Raze is the proposed exhibit for the Dupont Underground in Washington, D.C. scheduled to open in April 2016. A kind of double re-purposing, the exhibit will occupy a new cultural center inside a disused trolley station underneath Dupont Circle. Raise/Raze transforms light-weight balls from the ball-pit ocean of The Beach exhibit that ran at The National Building Museum in summer 2015. Those half-million balls will now cover surfaces and be reassembled into light-weight cubes that become building blocks for structures, sculptures, and installations. Delightfully open-ended for visitors too.
Related Museum Notes Posts: Abundance

4. Children’s Environments Research Group. Housed at the Center for Human Environments at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, CERG brings together “…university scholarship with development of policies, environments, and programs to fulfill children’s rights and improve the quality of their lives.” Active in theory, policy, and practice, CERG has a strong commitment to understanding children’s own perspectives on their lives. The team of researchers is headed by Dr. Roger Hart, a leader in theory and research related to children’s relationship with the physical environment. Dr. Hart’s study of children’s out-of-school lives in a New England town in the 1970’s is the basis for a longitudinal study of the changing lives of children in that same New England town. CERG's focus complements the work being done in museums to understand the long-term impact of museums.

5. Social Cartography. Fascinated by maps, I am alert to where they can be brought into an exhibit, a nature trail, museum site, or book. The term social cartographynot surprisingly–jumped right off the page in an article in ASTC’s Creating Great Cities issue of Dimensions (Jan. - Feb. 2016). Adaptable to a variety of purposes, social cartography is a tool that empowers communities to analyze social issues. It is also a strategy for emerging museums and museums rethinking their role in the community to hear from communities themselves. In mapping neighborhoods, their relationships to places in nature, or local issues, community members make their knowledge visible, identify problems, provide important perspectives, and communicate with decision-makers.
Related Museum Notes Posts: Place Matters 

What do you like this week?

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