Maker Spaces in your Neighbourhood

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Recently I wrote about the Creative Museum project in Brighton and Dublin and how it explored building a creative museum together as well as re-imagining the museum space for Makers. As a result of the latter workshop in Dublin, I took the initiative to introduce a local cultural institution with a local Maker space.

The thinking and ethos of the Maker community is to share ideas freely and openly i.e. open source. Arduino is a case in point and for those of you who are not familiar with it here is a brief summary

Arduino was born at the Ivrea Interaction Design Institute as an easy tool for fast prototyping, aimed at students without a background in electronics and programming… All Arduino boards are completely open-source, empowering users to build them independently and eventually adapt them to their particular need

Which brings me back to the introduction of a local cultural institution with a local Maker space. I have worked in Irish cultural institutions for over 20 years and have noticed the tendency to withhold the sharing of resources and ideas with colleagues, most probably due to the competitive nature of allocated funding, etc. Yet with the ethos of the Creative Museum project and Maker community, the project aims to analyse and share as well as make information widely available through networking, social media, a Maker in Residence programme and dissemination with other museums and Makers. So why not share the ‘love’ of museums and Makers working together?

Why collaborate with local Makers?

Makers are innovators, they have the skills to explore, experiment, risk failure when prototyping ideas as risk leads to problem solving (thanks TOG!). Cultural institutions can tap in to this creativity and exchange new ideas for public engagement programmes.  This evening I ‘matched-maked’ a neighouring cultural institution with TOG Dublin Hackerspace. Plans are underway to collaborate with a local project involving creative learning for young people. TOG Dublin Hackerspace has a membership of 75 Makers. They actively engage with people (young & old) throughout the year including Dublin Maker, Inspirefest, Science Week, to name but a few. Why collaborate? We are all local, we have limited resource but lots of ideas, we want to engage with local communities and up-skill young people as well as others.  Will this work? I hope so. What are the key ingredients for successful collaboration? Open communication, mutual respect and understanding and the ability to experiment, explore and create.  Watch this space for more updates.

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The Creative Museum went Brighton & Dublin and this is what it discovered

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The Creative Museum project team re-convened in Brighton for a partner meeting and workshop Building a Creative Museum Together 24 September 2016. Participants were introduced to both local and project partner case studies of creative collaboration as well as a series of quick-fire workshops for participants to experience different aspects of how to develop a creative museum. These included workshops with Kevin Bacon, Brighton Museum, Jenny Siung, Chester Beatty Library, Marilyne Basilic & Juliette Giraud, Museomix, Sejul Malde, Culture 24, Deborah Hustic, Radiona Makerspace, and facilitated by Don Undeen of Georgetown University and Jo Anne Sunderland Bowe of Heritec UK.  The event was part of Brighton Digital Festival.

As part of the Creative Museum project initiative (2014-2017) one of its aims is to disseminate where partner meetings take place as well as share findings, research and skills. Cecile Marsan, Cap Sciences, introduced both recent case studies of good practice across Europe as well as our recommendations on creative practice and collaboration.

Building a Creative Museum Together

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Building a Creative Museum Together. Photo: Jenny Siung

We had a very good cross-section of participants who were introduced to four key components of building a creative museum together. They were divided into working groups with active listeners who took notes on core themes: identifying your community; listening across cultures; ‘Spaces for Yes’; iterating towards success. These were all preceded by short presentations related to the themes to kick-start the group conversations. Feedback proved to be insightful and will be used in the Creative Museum project recommendations. Watch this space!

Museums and Makers Inspiring Each Other: Re-Imagining the Museum Experience for Makers 1-2 October 2016 in the Chester Beatty Library

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Museums & Makers Inspiring Each Other workshop. Photo: Jenny Siung

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Museums & Makers Inspiring Each Other workshop. Photo: Jenny Siung

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Museums & Makers Inspiring Each Other workshop. Photo: Jenny Siung

Don Undeen, Make Create Innovate and Jenny Siung, Chester Beatty Library co-presented a 2-day workshop for local museums and makers and discovered how museums can inspire creative responses as well as explorations of content without feeling hindered or afraid of museum-related obstacles (e.g. no photography, no food or drink allowed in galleries, be quiet, no bags allowed, etc.).

We worked with a group of 17 local creatives who were introduced to a number of objects from the collection, explore how they would respond using their unique skills individually as well as in groups. Don provided a card game and encouraged the group out of their comfort zones to create fun, engaging, quirky and creative responses to their ‘newer’ museum experience; these ranged from singing a song in the gallery to whispering the name of a painting in a stranger’s ear.

Make Create Innovate provided a hands-on maker-style workshop on the second day with specific focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and maths) as well as develop ideas around objects, historical or contemporary, fusing electronic engineering and the historical evolution of that object.

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Museums & Makers Inspiring Each Other workshop. Photo: Jenny Siung

To complete the 2 days, Don Undeen provided a Design Thinking exercise whereby the participants were encouraged to think of their intended audience, listen to their needs, respond by developing a prototype and then create a 3D impression of this.  The results were incredible and as a group of creatives, the wish to continue, network, create and collaborate was very apparent.

Over the course of these 2 workshops the Creative Museum project has learned a lot and will include in its overall findings for dissemination on its website.

One thing is for sure – creativity is fun; innovative; provides much-needed insights for museums as well as creatives and collaboration as well as risk-taking is key to success.