Mixing the Museum Museomix-style


Photo: Museo Mix banner, Musée Saint Raymond. Jenny Siung, November 2016

It has been an eventful time for the Creative Museum project when one of its partners Museo Mix landed in Toulouse, France during the 11-13 November 2016. The small but important Musée Saint Raymond with a collection of historic Roman artifacts from the region of Toulouse, opened its doors to a motley crew of ‘mixers’ ranging from coders, film makers, gamers, mediators, tinkerers, designers, developers, graphic designers, communicators, artists, writers, scientists and of course, museum folk.

Museo Mix is a 3-day event and invites participants to invent, design, prototype and test innovative museum installations with new technologies. The spirit of this initiative is co-curation and collaboration and encourages people to openly share their ideas and skills mirroring an open source ethos as found in the Maker community.

How does Museo Mix work? Around 40 people were selected based on their skills and interest. On day one, we kick-started the event with tours of the museum collection with key members of staff including the director, curator and volunteers. We then collectively pitched ideas in response to sparks or ideas inspired by these tours and posted them on a number of boards.  Based on the start-up initiative, teams were formed to incubate ideas selected from these boards.

‘Incubation’ is a collection of techniques that can be used to prove an idea, develop a team and de–risk ventures for later–stage investors. – See more at: http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/good-incubation#sthash.HbQIa7iC.dpuf

The Creative Museum project sent its members to Museo Mix from Heritec (UK), Museolitto/Finnish Museums Association (Finland), Trondheim Museums Association/Science Centre (Norway), Cap Sciences, Bordeaux, Istituto Beni Culturali (Bologna, Italy) and Chester Beatty Library (Ireland). Why? This is one key aspect of this 3-year project and encourages the team to explore these key factors:

  • to understand Museo Mix concept
  • to discover collaborative working methodologies
  • to create space for collaboration with local communities
  • to create new mediation/education tools
  • to experiment co-creation processes
  • to discover new possible integration of new technologies into the cultural arena
Photos (clockwise): top left tour of Musée Saint Raymond, centre temporary Fab Lab; top right Museo Mix ideas board; bottom left Museo Mix participants in action; bottom right Creative Museum team incubating ideas. Photos Jenny Siung, November 2016

Co-curation and Collaboration – the Creative Process

As with most creatives, the development of ideas is a messy process. Creativity is not linear and evolves filled with twists and turns. Museo Mix responds to this creative process through its mission

  • Inclusion. Anyone can be a member of the Museo Mix community; there are no barriers to entry. We appreciate diversity and encourage everyone to participate.
  • Collaboration. We are founded on creative collaboration, an activity that transcends organisations, companies and geography. It is in working with others that a user becomes a member of a community of practice open to all.
  • Sharing. We love free circulation and free sharing of knowledge and know-how. We adopt open licences, shared resources, sharing ideas, and remix as a modus operandi.
  • Contribution. Community member are encouraged to become active contributors, and to enrich shared resources with all that they find.
  • Iteration. Our activity is based on the testing and continuous improvement of prototypes, media solutions, and ideas in evolution.
  • Autonomy. By starting and contributing to new projects, each member acquires autonomy, responsibility and authority within the community. Something isn’t working? We’ll fix it ourselves, we’ll change it, we’ll find another solution.

This is what Museo Mix looks like in action

What did we learn?

It is vital museums open its doors to a wider community as with Museo Mix. I experienced first-hand an atmosphere of generosity and openness without the feeling of the museum being threatened by external ‘forces’ i.e. us. The director of Musée Saint Raymond took a huge leap of faith by inviting a group of people in to the heart of the museum and encouraged everyone to develop ideas which were then shared with the public on the third day. The Creative Museum team aka Team Bablyon, created an interactive game based on Roman dice and placed it next to the display case. We identified various skill-sets needed to develop this idea and set about the development of this prototype. There were times when we were uncertain of the direction of the project, yet we communicated with each other throughout the process. It was an invigorating experience and we discovered each of us were invaluable to the development of our interactive game.  We worked from 9am-9pm each day. It was an exhilarating and exhausting process yet we ended it on a high. Would I do it again? Hell yes (I attended Science Hack Day, Dublin a week later). Everyone should try Museo Mix at least once.


Photo: Director of Musée Saint Raymond interacting with the Creative Museum team’s Dice Game. Jenny Siung, November 2016.

What is Next?

If you are interested in creative collaboration, our project consultant Don Undeen is talking alongside Museo Mix online as part of We Are Museums  9 December 2016.