Sensory Objects Research Presented at the Inclusive Museum Conference

Kate and Nic gave a hands on presentation of the Sensory Objects project to the Inclusive Museums Conference at the Autry Museum in Los Angeles. We sent a big box containing Sensory Objects developed by our Co-researchers from Reading College at MERL and also the Access to Heritage Group in Liverpool. We showed slides and videos of our current group from the Tower Project at the British Museum to explain our project conference attendees. We met people from all over the world who were interested in our project. The pictures below show some of them trying out the objects you can see Phillip and Johns scrapbooks of Sudley House Liverpool, Sians mooing boot and Rachel’s Pink grunting Pig and Nic explaining our ideas of using Squishy Circuits, littleBits and our research with littleBits go LARGE.

Inclusive Museums Presentation Sensory Objects

Inclusive Museums Presentation Sensory Objects

Sensory Objects Presenation Nic at InMusCon

Sensory Objects Presenation Nic at the Inclusive Museum Conference

During the conference there were many talks and discussions often all happening at once. One of the most inspiring talks, I thought, was by Nina Simon, she wrote a book that helped give shape to our sensory objects project The Participatory Museum. Below are some images she used during her talk about Santa Cruz Museum where she is working at now. Her talk showed her ideas and experiences of making the museum a place where everyone can feel welcome and take part. She mentioned Pop Up Museums and also the idea of the museum acting as a place for people to have conversations, bringing unlikely people together, she described it as ‘bridging’ the two people bottom left of the picture are a lady who knits and a graffiti artist who meet during a workshop at the museum and really got on.

Presentation Nina Simon

Presentation Nina Simon

During the talk Nina mentioned some of the problems of making the museum more participatory, that some people in the community accuse her of dumbing down the museum, she illustrated the problem by showing this cartoon below. You can’t please everyone, in the cartoon a character called MAH that Nina said represented her is telling Michelangelo that his painting of the Sistine Chapel is “a bit passive and that he must engage the visitor, leave room for the visitors to colour in your work with crayons or paint ball! you know…. dumb down your work!” Nina mentioned that by widening the audience to the museum you will also alienate people who enjoyed it as it was, but attendance and participation in the Santa Cruz Museum continues to rise and generate income because of her ideas of inclusion.

Nina Simon Cartoon

Nina Simon Cartoon

The video below shows Nina giving a talk which has similar content to the presentation at the Inclusive Museums Conference.

Sensory Objects in Progress Seminar Tuesday 10th June

We are going to have talks and demonstrations about the project on Tuesday 10th of June  the Seminar is part of Universities Week Below is a flyer in easy read version and with more text about the Seminar. Please send an email to if you would like to attend the seminar its free but places are limited.

Seminar Invite Tuesday 10th June Easy Read

Seminar Invite Tuesday 10th June Easy Read


Seminar Flyer

Seminar Flyer Tuesday 10th

Testing the Sensory Objects Cookbook, Sudley House Liverpool 21.03.14

Although making sensory boxes were planned during this session, we used the whole session to feedback about the book its self. It took longer than expected so we made some sensory boxes in our final session at Sudley, the pictures below show some of our Sudley House Boxes made during our final session.

Angela's box of Sudley House

Angela’s box of Sudley House

Close up of Stephen's Box of Sudley House

Close up of Stephen’s Box of Sudley House

Ticky wrote this report for us on the groups thoughts about the cookbook. We began by recapping on the previous session. We went around the group individually to share Objects made last week, iPad photos, Printed photos, to help them to remember and to share. In pairs – with support staff and service users we looked at the whole of the cookbook.Feed back was filmed and some notes were written in the books. Some really useful comments and suggestions came out of this session.

  • The name is misleading
  • It would be good to have the whole section about one activity in one place instead of separated with appendices
  • It would be good to have a list of things you need for the activity with the cartoon
  • A session planning template would be useful for support staff
  • A filled in version as an example would show supporters what kind of thing to write

(We made a template for support staff as part of the Hands On training – but we think it could do with being reformatted as it looks too much like a form and some staff find that off putting.)

  • A blank page for notes would also be useful
  • J&G have been adding a starting activity (ice breaker) and a feed back session at the end and this could be worth suggesting in the book if it is to be used by support staff.
  • Who is the intended audience for the book? Casual visitors? Venue staff? Support staff, service users all?
  • It could be used by groups visiting if they were handed a sheet on arrival to help them focus their visit on a sense?
  • Or for a 6 week block visit
  • Could be a really useful tool for support staff to plan activities at the base through the senses over several weeks – for example a group have South America as their topic and could choose to have a food focus then music……
  • Suggested that it could be less linked to a house and made more general
  • Produced as a durable book as it would get a lot of use and handling
  • Asked about web resources they didn’t think it would work as staff in day centres are not given the time to go on line and down load plans
  • And they would be unlikely to up load their photos, films sound clips, comments for same reason.
  • Unless it was incorporated into the session

Other comments on book

  • Simple symbols possibly in colour and quite big needed for the senses to be used where ever there are titles smell touch etc introduced in the contents page where it can be explained if necessary then recognised elsewhere.
  • Symbols Used in place of the photos which are too ambiguous   in contents and else where (although lovely for the group as they are in them)
  • Most of the cartoons are brilliant and are an excellent way to engage with the book for people with learning disabilities.
  • Some pictures are confusing and misleading – microphone mistaken for an ice cream – mouse confuses people – smell pictures are hard to read – texture is most unclear and needs rethinking – possibly using real pictures?
  • The questionnaire is not made for people with learning disabilities
  • If you want their comments need more work on this – yes/no answers smiley face sad face.
  • Pictures
  • Some comments written in books directly which I will send to you along with the films of people feeding back.

Testing the Sensory Objects Cookbook, Smell at Sudley House Liverpool 06.03.14

Our Co-researchers in Liverpool continued to test the Cookbook at Sudley House, This week they concentrated on the sense of smell.

using cookbook smell collection workshop

Using cookbook smell collection workshop

using cookbook smell collection workshop

Using cookbook smell collection workshop

Ticky brought some bags containing various smells, and the group discovered some things that smelled at Sudley House.

Smells of Sudley

Smells of Sudley, including cleaning materials, primroses and onions.


Testing the Sensory Objects Cookbook Sound at Sudley House Liverpool 27.02.14

Our group of Co-researchers in Liverpool have continued to test the Sensory Objects Cookbook at Sudley House Liverpool throughout February and March 2014. Each week members of the Access to Heritage group have met and tried out a different sensory expedition. In an earlier post we told you about a touch activity, the next was sound.”Microsoft Word - Cookbook_Ver8

The group brought sound making equipment with them to Sudley house, Shakers, Keyboard, etc. June led an activity where we all had to close our eyes and sit quietly for a couple of minutes just to listen. Then we went round the room to find out what people had heard. It was surprising what you could hear when you listen! Shoes on stairs, I heard, people talking, Chairs creaking, bird song, dogs barking, Carl drinking coffee and putting cup down, the sea. In the house we went round in small groups with i pads which we used to record images and sound. We created some sounds our selves – like opening drawers, walking on wooden floors and turning the pages of a book.

Sound collection expedition

Sound workshop, collecting, imagining and making sounds at Sudley House

We recorded people chattering and clinking in the tea room. We imagined what other sounds might have gone on at the dining table for example – pouring drinks, laughing. cutlery, clock ticking, banging plates, biting, chewing, scraping. After lunch we listened to sounds each of us had recorded on the i pads: a creaking door, hitting railings with a stick, turning a door handle, walking down stairs, cafe sounds,rain drop, fire cracking, talking. Some people took photos of paintings and photos and imagined the sounds they would make. The group didn’t end up using the sound makers they had brought with them.