Creative learning is here and we need to embrace it now!



This week I was invited to join The Festival of Curiosity at one of their project-partner meetings Steam4U in Barcelona and attend a conference on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and maths). It was hosted by CosmoCaixa of the Caixa Foundation, a bank founded in the early 20th century. Part of its legacy is to end social exclusion (Irish banks, listen-up). They provide a range of social assistance, cultural and civic services to improve people’s quality of life. CosmoCaixa is one example of this – a science centre with a live rain forest nestled in the basement, surrounded by interactive scientific displays, and a lot of space for people to gather to catch a view of the city itself.



STEAM4U Project

The rationale of Steam4U is to promote equity in STEAM education and enhance self-efficacy for students aged 10-14 years (perception of their own capabilities) in these fields, and particularly targeting those students in disadvantaged situations in STEAM. A toolkit is due later this year to assist students and teachers measure self-efficacy in STEAM.

STEAMconf 2018 Barcelona, 4th International Education Conference

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Transformation of skills needed in creative learning/making, presented by Karien Vermeulen, Head of Education Programme, Waag, NL

This is the fourth conference in Barcelona – the main theme being STEAM and how to minimise gender imbalances and promote equal opportunities. Highlights for me included two workshops;

How to design and programme an intelligent robot to play games with you facilitated by Stefania Druga, Personal Robots research group, MIT Media Lab, Boston, (USA)


Contemporary art intersections: geometry, optical illusion and 3D space with Nettrice Gaskins, digital artist, academic, cultural critic and advocate of STEAM fields, Boston (USA).

As a professional museum educator, I realise if I was asked c. 5 years ago to attend either of these workshops, I would have balked at the idea. Why? Science, engineering, technology and maths were never my strong points in school. My formal educators encouraged me to focus on ‘female-friendly’ subjects instead. This approach still exists today in our education systems world-wide and yet with globalisation, the world is changing very rapidly. STEAM through education can equip students with these much-needed skills of

  • critical skills
  • learn by doing
  • creative collaborations
  • problem-solve in creative ways
  • fail in the process in order to try again without feeling like a failure (based on start-up ethos)

These values and skills are reflected in the Creative Museum/Making Museum project of which I am a coordinator. These same skills are vital for museum practitioners in the design and delivery of public engagement programmes. I have blogged about this in previous posts on this site.

Stefania Druga looked at how AI (artificial intelligence) is to the fore of children’s lives and education. We need to understand how children interact and learn from it. During the workshop we spent the hour working with existing programmes available on the platform. Check out these free online resources!

Nettrice Gaskins looked at contemporary art practices as in this You Tube OK Go – This Too Shall Pass, Rube Goldberg Machine. This group of artists use recycled and found objects to create something new. Nettrice encouraged us to break in to groups of maths, science, technology, engineering and arts educators, come up with a problem and use the found materials to find a solution. We had a lot of fun in throughout the process.




Other highlights of the conference include talks by:

Marc Sibila, professor, musician and maker on Instroniks education programme, Navas, Barcelona who introduced Ryan Jenkins, Tinkering and ‘Unplanned Learning’ in the classroom, co-founder of Wonderful Idea Co, San Francisco

Stefania Druga, Kids, AI devices and Intelligent Toys, MIT Media Lab, Boston

Karien Vermeulen, Maker Access for All, Head of Programme Education, Waag for Creative Learning, Amsterdam

Nettrice Gaskins, Vernacular STEAM and its Role in Education, digital artist, academic, cultural critic and advocate of STEAM fields, Boston

Lasse Leponiemi, How to Implement K12 education practices, discover and implement with HundrED, Head of Operations and Partner at HundrED, Helsinki

Take-aways from these talks:

  • Education needs to reform – schools are changing but the world is changing faster and faster and there is a gap
  • We need smart citizens and smart cities and kids need to learn innovative skills
  • The word innovation has an image-problem for educators and we need to overcome resistance to this
  • STEAM is essential for young people and educators to develop 21st century skills
  • Education innovators and implementors need to be empowered and encouraged
  • Visionary leadership is needed
  • Revolution in innovation happens bottom-up
  • Tinkering provides an opportunity for open-ended exploration, unplanned learning, without and end goal and provides the chance for people to collaborate and create their own goals
  • Re-use spaces to provide opportunities to tinker
  • Robots do not always need to look like traditional robots, i.e. the creative process can result in multiple versions of an idea and this is okay
  • Use cardboard as a simple material – it does not always have to cost a lot to make stuff, i.e. affordable technologies
  • Why make stuff? It helps us understand the world when we make, problem solve and learn new skills
  • Maker and tinker movement allows freedom to learn

Benjamin Franklin Makerspace School, Barcelona

I happened to bump in to a local Irish maker I have worked with before; Thom Conaty taught me how to solder breadboards in 2015 and I made my first amplifier/synthesiser in his studio. Thom is a well-known maker in Irish circles and is currently maker-in-residence in a school in Barcelona. He is developing a makerspace for students to learn STEAM. You can read further and find out about this project maker spaces.

Which brings me to this conclusion – in order to develop 21st century skills, encourage creativity through STEAM and innovation, we need the space for these skills to flourish. And schools are the best place to provide incubation for this to grow – maker spaces in schools may be the best way to go.


Special thanks to the Festival of Curiosity for providing me the opportunity to participate and attend the conference and workshops.








The Making Museum – creativity is alive and kicking & House of European History Learning Resources – a review


The Making Museum project 2017-2019

The Creative Museum team is delighted to continue its creative endeavours with a new EU-funded project, the Making Museum. It will build on the success of the Creative Museum project (2014-2017) as well as extend and further develop training opportunities re: Museomix and Maker-in-Residence. The Making Museum project will provide a sustainable platform for the dissemination of the Toolkits through a range of activities (workshops conferences, etc.). It will offer the opportunity to share the lessons learnt and skills acquired. The first meeting took place in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin 2-3 November 2017.

Project partners Radiona Makerspace Zagreb visited Dublin in late November 2017. Using the Creative Museum project Toolkit, Deborah Hustic, Marina Petrovic and Damir Prizmic explored the Chester Beatty Library’s collections and look at how best museums and makers can collaborate together to engage with audiences.  Supported by the Creative Museum and Making Museum projects.

The four key elements of the Creative Museum project are:

To collect and analyse: Identify, compare, analyse creative practices in Europe; to produce recommendations for museum professionals

To discover and learn: To explore ways to bridge the gap between participatory web culture and cultural institutions through peer-to-peer training programmes

To experiment: A Maker-in-Residence programme to connect makers and digital talents with museums

To evaluate and share: Be inspired by start-up approaches based on iteration and align with maker culture to share ideas and knowledge as freely as possible

Twitter @CreativeMuseum0 and website 

Project reference: EU-funded project No 2017-1-FR01-KA202-037487

Implementation: 1 September 2017 – 28 February 2019 EU flag-Erasmus+_vect_POS


House of European History, Brussels – check out their learning resources

There is a very insightful  learning resource created for the House of European History, Brussels by Alan Kirwan and the Education Team. These were designed prior to the opening of this new museum in May 2017. So what are they?

  • a series of activities designed for the classroom
  • they address European history as reflected in the permanent exhibitions on display
  • the topics range from migration, conflict, information technologies, human rights and identity
  • some of these were trialed at a conference The Role of National Museums in (Re) Negotiating National Identity, Chester Beatty Library in 2016, see workshop: Collective Conversations: Exploring a Kaleidoscope of Irish Identities at Irish Museums
  • the subjects are very timely and relevant to current issues in Europe and offer practical tools for teachers when working with pupils in the classroom or in the museum

Let’s take Borders and Bridges – Migration as an example.

It is in Dutch, German, French and English. The subject explores the current crisis Europe faces today: migrants swiftly moving in to Europe from the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and beyond while at the same time young Europeans are moving internationally to find employment.

The resource opens up the conversation around the language and terminology used to describe migrants and refugees and draws definitions provided by the UN as well as key learning competencies drawn up by the EU. In a way, this is a living history topic, i.e. this is happening right here, right now and we are all aware of the current migration crises in Europe. Yet, we have very few tools in the education system to address it.

This resource provides teachers and pupils questions and asks why people migrate, come to Europe or within Europe and the difficulties they face along the way. Video clips illustrate these stories. A number of classroom activities are available to promote debate, storytelling on the history of European migration, the use of language to describe migrants and refugees as well as the freedom of movement for European migrants within Europe (Bolkenstein Directive). Quotes from well-known political leaders in Europe regarding migration are included to promote discussion and debate. Collection items such as photographs and prints illustrate the historical story of migration; the role of the media past and present; audio transcripts; paraphernalia linked with migration.

This is just one example of a well thought-out series of resources that address difficult topics, require time and reflection as well as positive debate for teachers and pupils.





Adieu – the Creative Museum project


The Creative Museum project, final conference, Gadagne Museums, Lyon, 5-8 July 2017, © Jenny Siung, 2017

The Creative Museum project made its final journey in the heart of Lyon, France in July. This was hosted by Gadagne Museums and entitled Building a Creative Museum Together and partnered with one of the project’s key partner Museomix.  This one-day conference, site visit and Museomix summer camp pretty much sums up the ethos of the project and reflected in a series of outputs published by the project:

The project seeks to explore and inform the connections between our cultural organisations and their communities by capitalising on the emergence of new and democratising digital technologies. The project seeks to extend the language of engagement through the medium of accessible, customisable, and personal digital experiences. It sees museums as dynamic learning environments in which staff and visitors can use accessible digital tools to explore and reason about collections in new and creative ways.

The concepts, case studies, recommendations, new initiatives and creative collaborations are captured in a series of online resources developed by the project. They are available for downloading (click on the titles below).

Analysis of Best Practices

The Creative Museum Recommendations

Toolkit for Building a Creative Museum: Connecting to Communities; Spaces for Yes and Strategies for Success

All of these were shared in some shape or form at the conference in Lyon with particular focus on the final output – the Toolkit. Lead partner Cap Sciences/Cecile Marsan introduced the project; Jo Anne Sunderland Bowe/Heritec explored research and analysis that evolved over the course of the project and are found in the Toolkit; Jenny Siung/Chester Beatty Library presented how the project has changed the way her museum has embraced makers to collaborate and co-create programmes for audiences. Both Don Undeen of Boom High Five and Samuel Bausson co-founder of Museomix, reflected on how museums have evolved over the past 10 years both in the USA and France.

Participants consisted mainly of French-based creatives, museum practitioners and members of the local Museomix community.  They were invited to break out in to smaller groups and attend 7 workshops some of which reflected the ToolkitConnecting to Communities; Spaces for Yes and Strategies for Success, as well as themes including Museums and Innovation, Museums: places of collective thought and agent for social innovation, Museums and Localities, Carte Blanche and possible spaces for Gadagne Museums.

How was this conference and workshops received? As in my last blog post, there is a demand from museum professionals and makers to bring creativity to other institutions and creatives. This project has inspired many, brought museums, makers and creatives together with incredible outcomes, creative collaborations as well as new ideas which may never have occurred if these parties worked alone. Plans are being developed to take the Creative Museum project to wider networks as there is a demand from the sectors to bring creativity to other institutions and creatives alike.

Thanks to all of our project partners, their respective networks and the new collaborators we have met along the way; Cap Sciences, Heritec, Chester Beatty LibrarySteps Europe, MiST Trondheim, Museomix, Finnish Museums Assocation, Radiona Makerspace, IBC Bologna, Jasper Visser and last but not least, Don Undeen.

Museomix Summer Camp

A highlight for me during this conference and partner meeting was a site visit to the local Museomix Summer camp. A number of prototypes were on display for both Museomix ‘campers’ and Creative Museum project partners. I was really intrigued by interactive prototypes as pictured above including

  • how to connect key components in cities;
  • 3D projection on sand;
  • an interactive panel when raised towards an overhead projector creates maps of constellations;
  • a hand-held device that can interpret e.g. Latin text of a museum object or turn pages of a book on display in a case for visitors.

These are just a few exciting and possible examples of how creative innovators use the latest digital technology to create access to museums and their potential audiences. For more details on how to join Museomix check out their website or this film below for a better idea of what they do, who they collaborate with and how to join forces of creatives and museums.


It has been a while….




Reaching for the Stars: The Astrolabe in the Islamic World. Christopher Parkin, Museum of the History of Science, University of Oxford, workshop. Photo: Jenny Siung, 2017.

It has indeed been a while since my last blog post but for very good reasons. In February I attended a very insightful conference organised by Manchester Museum From Malacca to Manchester: Curating Islamic Collections Worldwide (22-24 February 2017). Numerous examples were presented from across the UK, Europe, the Middle East, South Asia as well as the USA. To say presenting Islamic collections in museums is complex is an understatement. This conference is the first of its kind and is part of a funded research programme by the John Ellerman Foundation in the UK and Manchester Museum.


Dr Stefan Weber, keynote speech. Example of tours for refugees, Islamic Museum of Art, Berlin. Photo: Jenny Siung, 2017.


Representation of Muslims in German Media, Dr Stefan Weber, keynote speech. Photo: Jenny Siung, 2017.

I work with East Asian, European and Islamic collections and have an overall sense of the cultures represented in the museum, yet to have in-depth knowledge of every artistic and cultural aspect is a challenge. This conference opened my eyes to the rich and incredible histories as well as themes reflected in Islamic collections; how they tell the story of histories and where they sit in a global context today. How can museums counteract the negative representation of Islamic culture today?  This was addressed in the keynote  Pulling the Past into the Present – Islamic Art and the Museum in Times of Migration and Extremism, Dr Stefan Weber, Director of the Museum of Islamic Art, Berlin, Germany.  He looked at how the museum is re-framing their engagement with Muslim communities in Berlin with particular focus on engaging Muslim artists with local Berliners as well as offer tours by Syrian refugees for the immediate refugee community. It has captured the imagination of many and provides a ray of hope for the displaced and traumatised. Dr Weber also looked at key components of displays in the museum and how they are viewed and understood by visitors. Many people get their information on Islam through the media e.g. death and violence often associated with Islam. With the current trend in global politics, there is a process of ‘othering’ in society to identify oneself and that of others. He questioned whether we have a certain picture i.e. orthodox or other views society has from which objects come from and it is important to understand the diversity of Islamic collections in museums.

The following presentations were excellent and provided insight to how Islamic collections have brought communities together (Birmingham Museums & University) or display for the first time the story of Hajj to UK audiences in the British Museum.

Other core themes included the representation of faith, identity, interpretation of material for exhibition, new installations worldwide, communities and outreach. I presented a case study of an interfaith learning resource Ways of Seeing II exploring world faiths in a secular manner using museum objects aimed at teachers both north and south of the border including Islamic collections. Key challenges include the context of Irish primary and post-primary schools which are predominantly Roman Catholic in ethos yet the population of Ireland has changed dramatically since 1997-2007 (Celtic Tiger) and the need for the curriculum to reflect the changing profile of our children in schools.

The Creative Museum project, Zagreb, Croatia March 2017

The Creative Museum project continues a journey of exploration and this time it landed in Zagreb, Croatia for a partner meeting headed by Radiona Maker Space hosted by the Technical Museum and conference Creative Museum A/C/T/S Zagreb 2017.

The one-day conference introduced the audience to a number of case studies developed and carried out by members of the project including a number of initiatives such as the project itself with Cecile MarsanMaker-in-Residence with Jenny Siung, Recommendations with Jo Anne Sunderland Bowe, how museums and makers can collaborate to develop programmes for audiences as well as open museums to external creatives such as Museomix.

Jasper Visser’s vlog post summarises the event and a local write-up Muze. For many this was the first time museums, galleries, libraries, municipalities, NGOs, companies, entrepreneurs, universities, schools, start-ups, independent experts, students, innovators, technologists and individuals came together to explore, engage and ponder on the benefits of creative collaborations.  Other key events included workshops provided by Radiona Maker Space, the Neanderthal Museum, Design Thinking with Don Undeen and Jasper Visser as well as Digital Publishing by Irena Krcelic.


What happens next? As this is the second-last event and partner meeting, we are developing our plans to take the Creative Museum project to wider networks as there is a demand from museum professionals and makers to bring creativity to other institutions and creatives. Watch this space for more updates.

Asia Europe Museum Network General Conference, National Museum, New Delhi 15-17 March 2017

To complete the circle, I attended and presented at the Asia Europe Museum Network (ASEMUS) conference in New Delhi with support from ASEF. (ASEMUS features the Creative Museum project analysis of good practice on their website). This network fosters links between Asian and European museums with Asian collections. It is an active network with numerous exhibition and educational exchanges. One key component is the bringing together of the network every two years to discuss relevant current topics. Towards a Culture of Accessibility in our Museums: Good Practices and Challenges addressed digitisation, access for visitors including those with disabilities, the use of technology in engagement with audiences, urban renewal and its impact on museums and the role of regional heritage.

I presented five examples including museum intercultural education; collaborations with teachers and schools to understand world faiths through museum collections; how museum blogs can target hard-to-reach audiences as well as specific learning groups; handling objects for visitors with impaired vision and learning disabilities and dementia-friendly tours and the Creative Museum project.

There is an insightful report of the proceedings of the conference and to summarise the thinking behind the conference, Kennie Ting, the Director of the Asian Civilisations Museum and Vice-Chair of ASEMUS described the following:

Museums need to assume a more social role, engaging with the communities; audiences have also become more sophisticated and expect to be involved in how museums operate; and the digital shift requires museums to engage online. These three dimensions would lie at the core of subsequent discussions.

This pretty much sums up the events described above!

Let there be projection mapping

December 2016 ended on an experimental, creative and beautiful note with the projection mapping installation by Maker in Residence Krisjanis Rijnieks. This residency is part of the Creative Museum project training initiative for both Makers and museums. A traditional artist in residence programme tends to allocate a space for an artist to respond to a collection and/or develop their own work while supported by an organisation. This residency, however, explored how museums and Makers can collaborate and co-create work in response to museum collections.

From the very outset, both the museum (i.e. me) and Krisjanis entered a dialogue to discuss ideas around projection mapping in the Chester Beatty Library. Why this media? I thought from the outset, it was the most straightforward digital tool for a small museum. In reality, this relatively new technology is far more sophisticated and complex than realised and yes, I learnt a lot from this 12 day residency. Krisjanis also discovered how tiny the sector is in Ireland with a limited supply of high powered projectors. It took weeks to contact suppliers and source a 20k ANSI projector in Dublin – no mean feat and not cheap. We were incredibly fortunate to source a free projector by a very kind neighbour in the area.

So what did we do and how did the process evolve? I saw a link in December 2015 highlighting the Vatican’s projection of endangered animals and thought if the Vatican can do this, why not us? A call was made for Makers in our partner countries to apply for a residency in early 2016; Helsinki, Dublin; Bordeaux, Trondheim; Zagreb and Derby.  The selection process was managed by Don Undeen of Boom High Five and Georgetown University Maker Hub. We selected Krisjanis based on his response to our call and subsequently met him in Helsinki prior to our Creative Museum project meeting and public dissemination event in June 2016. Krisjanis followed up with a visit to Dublin in July for exploratory work.

This proved very fruitful as Krisjanis developed a better understanding of the Library space, collections and decided, having spent a week in discussion with staff, as well as observe the Library’s Teen Club visit to Dublin Maker, to develop an installation in the atrium. In the lead-up to his arrival in December this original plan went through a number of changes and I quickly realised it is vital for the following to happen

  • Keep an open dialogue, i.e. communication is vital throughout the process be it Skype, phone, email or text
  • Expect the unexpected as the creative process is not linear and plans change, all the time
  • Don’t lose heart if the original plan does not stick – there is always another good plan around the corner
  • View creative collaborations as an adventure and a learning process
  • Mutual trust and understanding are both important throughout

We met in the mornings during the residency over coffee and mapped out each day. Krisjanis had access to our online image database as well as use of our Reference Library where he could develop his ideas. He also had access to staff including our Digital Curator if and when he had queries regarding the collections. Through our local networks we acquired a studio space with the Festival of Curiosity in the Chocolate Factory for Krisjanis after closing time in the Library. This provided both the Library and Krisjanis the opportunity to share insights of the residency and introduce local creatives to the Creative Museum project and projection mapping. During this residency, Krisjanis provided projection mapping workshops for teens, adults and local makers in TOG Dublin Hackerspace ; we organised a meeting with Bridge21, education through technology in Trinity College Dublin. It was important to embed a legacy of learning for both the Maker and museum.

As for the projection mapping installation? Krisjanis created an incredible piece of work using both is digital technology skills and understanding of our space and collection. And the Library? I consider this work as one of the finest I have seen in a long time and this is a first for an Irish museum to co-create an installation based on a collection.


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:

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.

Maker Spaces in your Neighbourhood


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.