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Showing posts from April, 2008

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford narrative

Elegiac western, beautifully shot and acted. The film is narrated from the viewpoint of the author of the novel on which the book is based. The title makes it clear what is going to happen, giving the film a sense that it is one long flashback. However, the film tells the story chronologically, - the starting point is towards the end of Jesse James life. The James Gang are forced to recruit less reliable members and after a brutal train robbery Frank James gives up. This leaves Jesse (Pitt) under stress and relying on, a new generation of criminal such as the hero-worshipping Robert Ford (Casey Affleck). The focus of the story is on how the relationship between Ford and James changes from worshipper to murderer. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes

For Profit Museums

The Berkshire Conference has a short piece on the For Profit model for museums and touring exhibitions

Blockbuster For Profit Exhibitions

Interesting piece on the new phenomena of Blockbuster exhibitions undertaken for profit. The Tutankhamun exhibition charges something like $5m dollars per city. It was created using 120 objects from Egypt and the touring group gave Egypt £20m dollars plus $2m dollars donation to a museum in return for the rights to set up the tour. Each venue can charge $20-$30 dollars per person, and Egypt, the entrepreneurs and the hosting institution all make a reasonable profit. Los Angeles Times piece by Mike Bloehn 22 May 2005

Travelling Exhibitions - how to make money with them

I am doing some research to create a business case for a museum project - I'm looking for any Museum project that might justify itself to business investment. First thoughts are that, in London at least, making money is the province of tacky attractions of the London Dungeon, Madame Tussaud's and London Bridge Experience type. 12_Successful traveling exhibition_West.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Christopher Wren by Downes, Kerry

A little book in the Very Interesting People series. All the essential information is here, and gives some space to Wren's non-architectural contributions, which are quite impressive. Competent but not an exciting read. Narrative Structure: Modern day preface, then straight into a chronological description of his life. As Wren was working on many different projects at once there is a hybrid between chronological and thematic organisation, so chapter on St Pauls appears in right chronological sequence for its beginning but then deals with City Churches and St Paul's before moving on to other projects. Friendly expert authorial voice with single focus. OUP : UK General Catalogue

Shettles Exhibition Design Evaluation

In : Miles, R.S. (ed.) 'The Design Of Education Exhibits' BM (Natural History Museum), 2nd Ed 1988 I came across the Shettles Exhibition Categories which is a system of evaluating exhibitions - the categories are: Shettles Exhibition Categories Attractivenes of Exhibit Object Choice number Size Attractiveness Ease of Comprehension Ability to attract attention Attention on Exhibit Size Layout Colour Light Contrast Ability to hold attention Appropriateness of presentation Communication Techniques Sound Motion Film Demonstration Visitor Participation Charts Text Location & Crowd Flow Focus of Attention Visitor Charateristics

Walter Gropius and Exhibition Design

I came across an interesting book in the CSM Library: Miles, R.S. (ed.) 'The Design Of Education Exhibits' BM (Natural History Museum), 2nd Ed 1988 It is now rather an interesting historical resource rather than a text book on education design but does have some useful insights, and it is fascinating in that it is written towards the beginning of the use of Computer interactives when the Science museums were the only people doing interactivity. Anyway, in the introduction he pinpoints Gropius Bauhaus Baugewerkschafts Austellung (Building Workers Union Exhibition)., 1931 as being the point at which exhibitions begin to be visitor friendly - i.e. purposely design with the ebb and flow of the visitor in mind. He talks of the space being divided into areas, giving a logical sequence, with a smooth flow,curved walls and a bridge built to provide drama. The method he presents is one in which the Gallery has to be designed from the top down, while the message needs to be writt

Understanding the Curator's World

Understanding the Curator's World Definition: Curator: manager, superintendent, supervisor, overseer; keeper; guardian (Latin) Close to the heart of a Museum Curator, even a thoroughly modern one, is the love of the collection – our store of 'our' precious things. We love them, we spend out time looking after them, writing about them, talking about them, showing them off, we handle them with loving care, cradling them carefully in gloved hands, storing them in pristine tissue-paper, in specially made, contamination-free containers, publishing them in beautifully designed catalogues. We place them on pedestals lit by spotlights, on colour coordinated backgrounds. We almost worship them echoing our origins as custodians of the Temple's treasures. At the same time most of us are equally devoted to our Museum's subject matter. We want to be academics of history, scientists of nature, critics of art history or sociologists of society and we can find that

cost of membership to International Bodies

On Radio 4 just heard a retiring member of the Commonwealth cite the following per person costs per year of membership to various international bodies for British people European Union £53 United Nations £10 Nato £2 Commonwealth 18p His point was what good value we get out of the Commonwealth.

Narrative and the Museum of London

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Having turned up at the wrong Museum for the Lamas Conference (!) I was able to spend a few minutes double checking my analysis of the Museum's narrative structure. Previously, I have written: 'The Museum of London building opened in 1976,by Philip Powell and Hidalgo Moya , was one of the first museums in Britain that was purpose built with the demands of museum narrative in mind. They designed the Museum with a single route way through the system – starting with the prehistoric gallery, which lead to the Roman Gallery, a dark passage led through the Dark Ages to the Medieval section. A Tudor gate led into the Tudor and Stuart period rooms, while a modern glass vaulted roof lead down to the modern period. The visitors were lead by the hand and by the architectural metaphor to enjoy the transition from the primitive rural pre -London prehistory to the joys of modern London. It was a model of clarity. Non-stop development has obscured the clarity now as introductory displays, an

Beowulf - the movie

Bob Zemeckis" 2007 I wish I'd seen this in 3D! Much better than I feared it would be, and quite an interesting narrative device to excuse the liberties they took with the story. The structure of the story telling is straightforward - it begins with the slaughter in the hall, and ends with the death of Beowulf. However, the narrative is turned from an epic warrior poem into a tragedy - of the frailty of male chauvinism. The way they achieve this is to tell the 'true' story of Beowulf, and make it clear that the poem is simply the mythical/politically corrected version constructed after the event to the glory of the protagonists. The kings of the Danes (Anthony Hopkins and Ray Winstone) in turn are both snared by the beauties of Grendel's mother (an enhanced (?) Angelina Jolie), the offspring of the unnatural unions are warped monsters that try to wreak revenge on their fathers. Beowulf does not kill Grendel's mother he sleeps with her - he lives an unhapp

Catch a Fire Movie

2006 and Directed by Philip Noyse (Rabbit proof fence) is the straight forward telling of the tale of Apartheid through the eyes of 2 opponents. The structure is to play the story straight from beginning to end, but balancing the narrative between the lives of the two protagonists - there is just one narrative, not two equal and opposing viewpoints, but roughly equal time is given to both. Each person is also seen in the context of their own lives, the Boer Colonel is shown to be a reasonable man in his home context while the ANC member is a man with some character faults. Tim Robbins plays the calm, authoritative Nic Vos who adopts the same attitude while chatting to his kids as when torturing his victims. Derek Luke plays Patrick Chamusso, based on the real life story of an ordinary African who just want to get on with his life, until he is radicalised by a false accusation of involvement in ANC sabotage. Catch a Fire Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes

Narrative and the Museum in Docklands

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The Museum has a reassuringly traditional narrative structure - except they send you up to the 3rd floor to begin the story of London's Docklands, and thereafter it is a descent through time, from the beginning of London's story to the present day. Within each section there are, of course, thematic as well as chronological narratives. But by and large reassuringly from once upon a time, to nowadays. As with most factual stories the story does start in the present day with an introduction by Tony Robinson, setting the scene. But we are then taken straight away to the origins of London. The first gallery, although modernised by the use of digital labels with further video footage of M r TV Archaeologist, feels like many other local history museum, and there is a feeling that this museum is in direct competition with its own mother museum, the Museum of London, both telling essentially the same story, and the sense of disappointment, and the feeling that there is alack of edit

Narrative and Museums

I am currently working on an article about narrative structure in Museums. This is a snippet: 'There is a sense, however, in which Museum exhibitions have led the way in breaking down the shackles of authorial dominance – whereby the visitor/reader has to follow the structure imposed by the author/curator. Originally, virtually all Museums were housed in buildings with rectangular rooms, normally with 4 doors in the centre of each wall, and with display cases and wall hangings scattered around each room. This structure made it hard for the curator to imposed a fixed route, and allowed the visitor the ability to override the given structure and create their own narrative experience. In addition, the visitor can skip, linger, jump and can construct their own learning experience. This may or may not be analogous to leafing through a coffee table book or picking particular articles in an encyclopaedia at random but it is a particular feature of the museum as a medium, which in

Medicine Through Time and the Science Museum

This is a letter I wrote to the London Museums of Health and Medicine in relation to a request by the Science Museum for helping in locating teachers to comment on their new Medicine Through Time web site. 'When this project was first mentioned at a LMHM meeting by the Science Museum I did express an opinion at the Meeting that it should have been a joint project between the Museums in the London Museums of Health and Medicine group as Medicine through Time is one of the programmes that is of major importance to our visitor numbers. I am hoping that the web site will not be designed to Hoover up all school visits to the Science Museum but might be a resource that could benefit all of our museums as cooperation can have great mutual benefits - in fact quite a few schools go to two LMHM Museums. The London Hub for example has pioneered web resources shared between participating Museums - such as Untold Century and the 20th Century site - and I would have hoped that the Science M

Cutty Sark - only 2% destroyed

Apparently, less that 2% of the Cutty Sark's original fabric was lost in the fire. This seems quite amazing, and one wonders if this is not because so little of the original fabric survived in the first place that the fire could not destroy much of it. I'm probably being too cynical because the good thing was that much of the original material was already off site with the fire broke out, to see the Conservation project diary - follow this link: Cutty Sark - Diary

Cycle ride Kings Cross to Paddington (Stoke newington to Worcester)

As First Great Western Railways have cancelled yet more trains from Paddington to Worcester I have the choice of an impossible dash from Worcester University to the train station or waiting for 2 hours for the next train. So, I had to deploy the bicycle. This is the Route. Clapton to Canonbury Islington Park Street, straight across junction to Bewdley Road straight across the junction and follow the road down the hill towards Caledonian road but before you get there turn left into: Hemingford Road (this makes the crossing of Caledonian Road easier) Copenhagen Street cross Caledonia Road cycle 200 yards or so and turn left into York Way, right into Goodsway to back of Kings Cross Left into Midland Road Between St Pancras and British Library Straight across junction into Judd Street Then turn right when you come to the main green bike route which runs East West and is separated from traffic - you can feel the Taxi's hating the delay crossing the two line bike lane Tavistock Place,

Pearly kings and queens depicted on St Thomas' Street hoarding [28 March 2008]

Details of the artist used for the Hoardings outside St Thomas Church. Pearly kings and queens depicted on St Thomas' Street hoarding [28 March 2008]