The Creative Museum project at Museum Next Dublin & Helsinki


Museum Next Dublin, participants bridge-making as part of the Creative Museum project event, 17 April 2016. Photo: Jenny Siung

Of late my blog posts have focused on collaborative processes for audiences and museums. This particular posting reflects this and highlights the importance of fostering creativity for both museums, local makers and their audiences.

Museum Next Dublin invited the Creative Museum project to showcase their ideas during a fringe event (the Creative Museum project has a new website).

The Creative Museum at MuseumNext brought together a great mix of people who believe museums are places for creativity, invention, making and doing, and who share their experiences in bringing museums to life. We invited local creatives to present their stories from makers, doers, thinkers and tinkerers, and invited our audeince to participate in short workshops as well as share their own stories and experiences.

Speakers and facilitators included Jenny Siung (Chester Beatty Library), Ian Brunswick (Science Gallery), Cecile Marsan (Creative Museum Project), Dr Niamh Shaw, performer, scientist, maker, communicator and creative facilitator, Thom Conaty (, Mark Nagurski (Makematic), Jo-Anne Sunderland, Jake Byrne (Bridge21) and Jeffrey Roe (TOG).

The event was facilitated by Jasper Visser of Vissch & Stam.

What did we learn from this event?

  • Creative collaborations are possible
  • Museums need to think outside the box of their programming for audiences
  • Makers, be brave, make friends with museums. They are not that bad or scary
  • Museums, it is okay to work with other people outside your comfort zone and look at the results
  • Finally, it is ok to take risks as risks can lead and create wonderful processes

The Creative Museum visits Helsinki 1-3 June 2016

The Creative Museum project has wings – this time it made it’s way to Helsinki where project partner Museolitto (Finnish Museums Association) hosted 3 days of partner meetings and conference Creative Museum – A Gamified Conference for Makers, Museums and Independent Minds in the Theatre Museum and Finnish Museum of Photography, Cable Factory.

The one-day conference introduced the audience to the concept of how play can develop ideas as well as harness good collaboration and communication with colleagues and potential audiences.


Music robotics workshop – Arduino based sound installation from recycled materials, Mehackit, workshop 2 June 2016, Theatre Museum, Helsinki as part of Creative Museum project. Photo: Jenny Siung

Participants were introduced to a ’round robin’ of card games as designed by Jasper Visser and Don Undeen combining word play with key aspects of how museums can approach creativity through fun and games e.g. a card with the sentence “shapes can be put together to make” and matched with a card stating “Leonardo DiCaprio” and so on. This combination of word play can create positive outcomes especially in group work and team building.

Mikko Myllykoski, of Heureka Science Centre gave a keynote Heureka: Museums in the Making. He referred to museums as spaces for radical social innovation as cited in The Open Book of Social Innovation by Robin Murray, Julia Caulier-Grice and Geoff Mulgan. Mikko shared a number of responses by well-known creatives such as Aalto or Savoy vase inspired by Inuit trousers by Alvar Aalto or Picasso’s Head of a Woman inspired by West African masks. Both artists visited museums and were inspired to create and respond. When visitors go to museums they learn facts and skills, awareness, develop new perspectives, motivation and interest as well as social learning. He sees the next step for museums and visitors as a step from literacy, numeracy and scientific literacy to invention literacy, i.e. the ability to read and write human made stuff; the empowerment of visitors to become makers; it is done by a human, it can be recreated by you and me; and provides creative confidence as cited by Jay Silver of Makey Makey.

Creative Museum project, Theatre Museum, Helsinki.  Clockwise: card games; art and maths in Islamic art workshop; music robotics with Methackit; keynote speech by Mikko Myllykoski. Photo: Jenny Siung, June 2016.

Other events included a series of workshops for participants to experience different aspects of making and creativity. These included workshops with Museomix; Magic Carpet of Technology Tales with Museum of Technology; Music Robotics with Methackit; Noisepencil with Art & Craft School Robotti; Mechanical Exquisite Corpse with Mansteri; the synergy of art and mathematics in Islamic Art with Heritec and Chester Beatty Library

The overall response from participants and comments were gathered on the cards provided at the beginning of the event.

The best answer of today: doing not only talking;

Museums and ….: a match made in heaven: fun; community; future; creative geniuses;

My organisation needs a Chief…. Officer: fun; social innovations and digital solutions; wellness; wonder; spaces to relax; new media;

What is….again?: a museum; labs; creativity; unknown; collection management system;

These are just some of the quotes gathered from feedback. They sum-up the need for museums and creatives to factor in more play, space and time for invention; communication; invite communities in and participate as well as co-create; hands-on activities; spaces to relax; and so on.

This is an evolving and developing theme and the Creative Museum project has published case studies with examples of good practice across Europe and the US. Recommendations are due to follow this autumn. Watch this space for more news!


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