Image below shows the Easy Read programme for the first meeting of the purpleSTARS Advisory Group.
PurpleSTARS Advisory Group Session one Sept 1st
Sensory Objects co-researchers from the Tower Project agreed to become our purpleSTARS Advisory Group they will help us form the Sensory Objects Enterprise alongside business advice from EVOLVE Strategic Marketing Consultant Louise Moger.purpleSTARS Advisory Group:
purpleSTARS Advisory Group also met Becca Doggwiler who is collecting Impact of the Sensory Object project. Becca asked the group to help her design ways of collecting feedback to show the Impact of the project. The picture below shows Becca discussing feedback with the group and an online form they could tell us what they thought of the day.
Becca discussing feedback with the group
Online feedback questionnaire
The picture below shows the purpleSTARS Advisory Group SELFIE after the first session at RIX research & media.
Kia ora (a traditional Māori greeting), my name is Natasha Barrett and I’m Museum Studies PhD student from the University of Leicester (AHRC Midlands 3 Cities funded). My research is about colonial-era photographs (1860s-1914) of Māori, the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand. I have been discovering how these photographs have been understood and used over time by both Māori and non-Māori. This includes within and outside of British museums. I approach photographs as three-dimensional physical objects. They can as my research shows, reflect social connections amongst communities and with institutions around the world holding photographic collections.
A few months ago, as part of my PhD fieldwork, I met up with Dr Kate Allen at the British Museum. Despite our projects seeming quite dissimilar, there were many parallels, which were helpful for my research. For example, groups of people (and individuals) understand the world in very different ways and all are equally valid. The challenge for those of us working in museums is to try and understand this. We then need to create space for alternative ways of explaining objects. Sensory Labels fully and cleverly achieves this.
Kate gave me a tour around the Enlightenment Gallery with a few of the Sensory Labels. Having recently found out I am dyslexic, I was also personally interested to experience interpretation that does not use text. I was immediately struck by the wonder of the experience and sat with the labels on the gallery floor listening, smelling, touching, smiling and laughing. Through the labels I entered into the stories of the creators – the personal associations, meanings and memories that the objects in the gallery held for them. Each Sensory Label is highly unique, beautifully crafted and reflects the creator’s personality. By the end, I felt I had ‘virtually’ met a fascinating group of people who had enriched my experience of the gallery.
The author listening to Ryan Burns’ Sensory Label, 2016. Photograph courtesy of Dr Kate Allen.
Ryan Burns Sensory Label laser cut photo
Ryan Burns’ Sensory Label showing his laser cut photograph, 2016. Photograph by Natasha Barrett.
The labels, many of which include miniature versions of the displayed objects, emphasise the sense of touch. Usually in galleries you can only imagine what touching the objects behind glass might be like. Sam Walker’s use of a real shell and Judith Appiah’s carefully crafted Nigerian slipper let you experience the feel of the objects – their texture, shape and smell. Far from being just interpretative devices, Sensory Labels are also fascinating objects in their own right. Not only did they hold my attention but they drew in other people in the gallery, including one of the museum guides. We had a fascinating discussion about snakes in the Hindu religion, as a result of Katy Woollard’s snake themed label. This is, as Kate and I discussed, the power of the Sensory Labels. They create opportunities for conversations and let people share knowledge and diverse perspectives.
Sam Walker’s sensory label shell
Sam Walker’s Sensory Label with shell on/off switch, 2016. Photograph by Natasha Barrett.
Afterwards Kate and I meet with George Oates from Museum in a Box. I had noticed the similarities between the projects and was intrigued to discuss this further. Both use box formats and readily available low-tech electronics systems. These are easy to use and focus on the non-visual senses (e.g. touch and sound). They encourage people to interact or do something with the objects to make something else happen. Might these devices offer an alternative way of interpreting photographs? Far from being just pictures, we interact with photographs using our emotions and senses. Just think about the photographs in your own house, particularly those of your loved ones. What do they mean to you, and how you display and interact with them? They might make us laugh and cry, and beyond just looking, we touch and respond to photographs in a variety of ways. However this is not how photographs are usually interpreted and displayed in museums. Instead photographs are simply used as images to illustrate historical events and show what people looked like (a form of visual evidence).
Although Sensory Labels and Museum in a Box are not currently being used to interpret photographs, I can see great potential for this. For example, the laser cut photographs of the creators on the Sensory Labels suggests the way we tend to touch photographs. Touch is important in Māori culture and this technology creates a way of experiencing photographs through the fingertips. Sound is also significant for Māori and with both systems photographs could be used to activate the sound of Māori elders talking. This would give them the opportunity to talk about their ancestors, cultural treasures (known as taonga) and the places shown in the photographs. Themed packs of photographs could also be put together and used as George noted, as a way of ‘returning’ photographs (and the knowledge they hold) of people, places and cultural objects to their communities.
sensory labels and museum in a box
Museum in a Box (foreground) and Sensory Labels (background), 2016. Photograph by Natasha Barrett.
Experiences in museum still tend to rely on looking at and seeing objects. Opportunities for using our other senses, especially with photographs, are still not common. Also, whilst the voices of ordinary people are now heard in museums, these are still often shaped by institutions. Both Sensory Labels and Museum in a Box give people the freedom to express things in their own way. Using low cost systems, they place the power of object interpretation outside of the museum. However, these systems are flexible and can also used within museums. I look forward to seeing how these projects develop in the future!
Natasha introduced me to George Oates from Museum in a Box we found we had lots of things in common creating sensory experiences for museums.
Museum in a Box1
I brought some Sensory Labels made by our co-researchers from the Tower Project to the Enlightenment Gallery, for Natasha to try, Ryan Burns Chinese plate inspired label was a particular favourite. Below are images from Ryan’s Wiki Pages developing his label and sharing it with the public. There is also a video of Ryan’s Sensory Label in action so you can hear what everyone was listening to in the pictures. The smell Ryan chose was a floral perfume that reminded him of his Nan. Ryan’s drawing and his photograph was laser etched into the surface of the label.
Here are pictures from Ryan’s Wiki showing the development of his sensory label as documented by him. The plate Ryan made from air hardening clay as his response to the ones in the Enlightenment Gallery, broke. This gave Ryan the idea to have the sound of breaking ceramics on his sound track, he also found some Chinese Opera to add to his soundscape.
Ajay Choksi Wiki Master from RIX research and media and Kate presented a Sensory Objects poster at Engage 2015-Engaging with Impact in Bristol at the Royal Marriott Hotel We also introduced ArtLab which is a project that has grown out of the Sensory Objects Research. ArtLab promotes Widening Participation and Research projects at the University of Reading. The text below is from the Engage Programme about the poster party event.
“Engage enthusiasts will be pleased to know we are hosting the fabulous Poster Party with over 30 people and teams keen to share their work with great ideas for developing more effective engagement, celebrate and network in style with nibbles and drinks – encouraging constructive and inspiring conversations from across the world.” The picture below shows the poster with Adalana showing her Sensory Label at the British Musuem, we also demonstrated some of the Sensory Labels, this was before they turned on the party lights!
Poster Party Presentation
There were lots of people Ajay did a great job explaining about the project, demoing the Sensory Labels and showing the project Wikis. The pictures below show Ajay at work talking about Sensory Objects during the ENGAGE 2015 Poster Party, with some pink/purple lighting.
We featured in an article by French journalist Clara Crochet-Damais which documented the award ceremony in Paris where we were awarded the International Access for All Design Trophy 2015 on the website FranceTVinfo
FranceTVinfoPage report on Design for All Foundation Award
Summer 2015 Zena Hussein an Intern from UEL worked on data analysis from the Sensory Objects Project. Karl and Barbara Baeck from a tempo, a support network for people with disabilities to access employment, in Graz Austria, Karl and Barbara were funded by the European Union to study the Sensory Objects project. They intend to translate the Sensory Expeditions Activity book into German. The picture below shows Karl with Marc on an earlier visit to the project.
Karl with Marc from ‘atempo’ Graz.
Sensory Objects were invited by Becki Morris to contribute to a new webpage Disability Cooperative Network the aim of the network is to share knowledge to break down barriers for disability in the cultural sector
Our Co-researchers from Tower Project ‘Sensory Labels of the Enlightenment Gallery’ was such a hit earlier in the year we were invited back by The British Museum as a half term activity. The museum was packed with visitors, Tower Project did an excellent job engaging old and young with their work and we had a brilliant response from the public. Below are some pictures from the day.
Group around table
Listening to Judiths box
Justin in group
Kelly demos her label
Sam demos Label
smelling Justin’s label
We also showed off our Design for All Foundation Award Trophy and Certificate that were were awarded at a ceremony in Paris in Jan 2015 for our Co-researchers from Tower Project Sensory Labels at The British Museum. It was the first time all the group had seen the Trophy and Certificate. Below are the Tower Project with their Sensory Labels, Trophy and Certificate in The British Museums Great Court.
Tower with Trophy and Cert
The images below show closeups of the Design for All Foundation Award Trophy and Certificate 2015.
On Wed 29th April Sensory Objects co-researchers from Tower Project presented a well attended master class and demo during the Museum and Heritage show at Olympia London. UEL had a stand where we displayed some of our Sensory Objects including some made by our co-researchers from Reading College Learners with Learning Difficulties/Disabilities dept at the Museum of English Rural Life including our yellow jiggling and grunting pig.
John with Rachel’s yellow pig
The pig was very effective at catching peoples attention during the show, we also showed the sheep cushion that goes ‘baa’ when stroked.
During the talk co-researchers from the Tower Project Judith Appiah and Tim Elson showed the audience their Sensory Labels for the Enlightenment Museum at The British Museum.
Tim showing his sensory label
Tim and Judith described the workshop process and how they developed sensory information and shared their work with the public at the British Museum. Throughout the day many people came over to the stand to discuss ideas about how to make museums more sensory and inclusive.
Sensory Objects at Museums & Heritage Show
We also took some photos of Tim, Judith and Kate with our recently awarded International Design For All Trophy 2015. We return for another Sensory Labels showcase in the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum on Thursday 28th May 2015.
Sensory Objects co-researchers from The Tower Project created a set of 12 labels you could look at touch, listen to and smell based on objects in the Enlightenment Gallery . These Sensory Labels were then enthusiastically and confidently presented to the public by our co-researchers during 2015. Each Sensory Label was created as an alternative piece of interpretation for an object chosen by our co-researchers thinking about sensory information.
This work was awarded the Design For All Foundation Award Trophy in 2015
The picture below shows the 12 Sensory Objects Co-researchers from the Tower Project and supporters during one of the sessions.
Group shot of Sensory Object Researchers
The response was fantastic with many positive reactions expressed to us, collected on feedback forms, recordings, written on twitter. We were invited to present the Sensory Labels during half term.
The picture below shows Sam showing Chalkwell School the Sensory Labels.
Lots of Tweets document the day
During the day colleagues from RIX research created a live wiki page and filmed to make us a video of the event and seminar. The picture below shows Andy and Sam updating the Wiki.
Andy and Sam wiki and shells
The picture below shows a screen grab of Kelly and Adalana’s wiki diary entries for the Showcase you can read more diaries and our co researchers thoughts on our co-researchers wiki
Kelly’s Diary of the showcse day
Adalana diary of Showcase Day
Many of Orson Nava’s great photos captured the day for us, the picture below shows Adalana showing her Sensory Label to a museum visitor, he was smelling a lovely perfume, listening to the sound of crystals and diamonds. Adalana discovered that the diamond she had chosen had been removed from the Enlightenment Collection but her Sensory Label gave people an idea of the missing diamond.
Adalana shows her Sensory Label to visitor
The picture below show the texture of Ashley’s label being felt. Ashley chose a stuffed Golden Pheasent as his object. He had sounds of the bird call which were very effective and loud, his smell was oranges.
Ashley shows Kassie his Sensory Label
The Sensory Labels were enjoyed by all ages, the picture below shows shows Sam demonstrating her Sensory Label of a shell that reminded Sam of her mum living by the sea.
Sam demos sensory labels
Picture below shows feeling the texture of Sam’s Sensory Label, the smell was a smell of seaside.
Sam demos sensory Label
Picture below shows Judith with school group trying her Sensory Label of a leather African slipper. Sounds are triggered by bending a leather slipper she had made with a bend sensor embedded in the sole. The smell of the Sensory Label was leather.
Judith shows school group
The picture below shows listening to Kelly’s Sensory Label telling the story of the statue of Paris. There were sounds of fighting, rain and the smell was aftershave.
More listening to Kellys box
The two pictures below shows visitors with Ryan and his Sensory Label about two Chinese plates that reminded him of his nan. The box smell was roses and the sounds were smashing plates and Chinese opera.
Ryan demos sensory labels
Listening to Ryans Sesnory Label
Pictures below show Tim demonstrating his Sensory Label based on a miniature Egyptian Mummy. Tim’s label has sounds of Egyptian music, camels and the safety instructions given by air stewards at the start of a flight. Tim had drawn a plane for his label as it reminded him of going to visit Egypt on a plane. Tim’s box smell was Egyptian perfume.
Tim showing his sensory label
Listening Tim’s Sensory Label
The picture below shows Michael showing his Sensory Label based on a large bowl that he researched an found out it was a wine cooler. Michel imagined eating Chicken and Chips in this giant bowl. His label smell was Vinegar and the sounds were of eating, slurping, frying and cereal being poured into a bowl.
Michael demos his sensory label
The picture below shows a visitor smelling the smell of beer and cheese and onion crisps, as Justin described it the “smell of success” in his Sensory Label. The picture below also shows the Warwick Vase, Justin’s chosen object, which reminded him of the FA cup and his love of Liverpool Football team. The sound for his label was a montage of football commentaries about Liverpool.
Justin’s Sensory Label
The picture below shows Justin’s Sensory Label proving a hit with a visitor.
Justins box a Hit
The picture below shows a visitor listening to another football fan, Julie chose a Heron from the collection because it reminded her of the Tottenham Hotspur Football cockerel logo. The sound track included the sound of a Blue Heron fishing in a lake, Julie making a tweet sound and singing with the Tottenham Hotspur team song. Julie’s Sensory Label smell was fish! which was a bit of a surprise for many.
Julie and her Sensory Label
The picture below shows a visitor smelling the sea in Adjoa’s Sensory Label. Adjoa chose a coral because she likes the sea. The sounds Adjoa chose were the sea and Handel’s Water Music.
Smelling Adojas Label
The pictures below show Katy’s sensory label, Katy’s object was a snake. Katy wanted her label to have a snake being charmed out of it’s basket, the sound is snake charming music and she wanted the smell of grass. The label has a light sensor embedded so when you open the lid the light triggers the snake to move slowly up. The light levels in the Enlightenment Gallery proved just too low for the sensor to work so we used a torch, which proved to create great engagement for the visitor.
Katy and her Sensory Label
Katy and Mark charm the snake
A charming the snake
Katy’s snake being charmed with light from a torch
The picture below shows the phone sound box containing all 12 co-researcher sounds, the smell is Cadbury’s Chocolate the smell chosen to celebrate Sir Hans Sloane and his addition of milk to Drinking Chocolate.
The collected sounds phone box
Matt and Andy try phone box
Listening to sounds on phone
The picture below shows Julie and Michael discussing their labels with Jane Samuels at the time the The British Museums Access and Equality Manager.
The picture below shows the Easy Read programme for session sixteen.
Tower Project Session SIXTEEN
The picture below shows our co-researchers adding smells to their Sensory Labels.
Group at work putting smells in Sensory Labels
Then they practiced showing the Sensory Labels to the public, Luke the RIX new intern from Pennsylvania agreed to be our audience as he knew little about the project. He soon found out about everyones object and label! The picture below show Kelly show Luke her Sensory Label based on the statue of Paris in the Enlightenment Gallery.
Kelly demos her Sensory Label
The picture below shows Ryan demoing his Sensory Label.
Ryan demos label
The picture below shows Michael showing Lukc his Sensory Label.
Michaels sensory label
The picture below shows Justin demonstrating his Sensory Label
Justin and Sensory Label
The picture below shows Judith trying the Phone box that contains all the sound tracks of the Tower Group
Judith with here sensory label trying the joint sound box
Members of the Sensory Objects research projectinvite you to try out their newly developed interactive Sensory Labels of selected objects in the Enlightenment Gallery at The British Museum on Wednesday 11th February in The Enlightenment Gallery 11am – 3pm.
These Sensory Labels have been co-developed by people with learning difficulties and disabilities from the Tower Project London, working as co-researchers; they form part of an interdisciplinary team from The University of Reading and RIX Research and Media at the University of East London.
The Sensory Objects project creates multisensory interactive artworks that respond to museum collections and generate alternative ideas for museum interpretation. The image below is a poster containing this text, advertising the event.
POSTER TOWER PROJECT SHOWCASE EVENT
The image below is the easy read programme for the Showcase Event Day.
The Sandpit day was organised to combine showcasing of work with and by people with Learning Disabilities with interactive demonstrations and activities designed to get discussion and debate going about what a Living Archive of Learning Disability History should be like. Find out more about the research project here
Sam sounds from her Sensory Label
Feeling Tims Sensory Label image of plane
Sensory Objects Co-researchers from the Tower Project were invited to host a Sensory Objects room. Judith, Sam and Tim represented the Tower project demonstrating sensory objects from the 3 years of the Sensory Objects project, including their newly developed Sensory Labels. Katy’s Sensory Label was also shown. Our Co-researchers also demoed littlebits used in workshops to understand triggers.
Tim explains littlebits
Sniffing Katy’s snake in grass box
Sam and her box
Sensory Objects Sandpit with Harry
From the Sandpit day we learnt about the importance of creating an archive of Learning Disability History. Of importance to the Sensory Objects project was the desire by people in discussion that the physical quality of the Living Archive needs to be preserved. People were keen that the archive took various forms so that it would be accessible for everyone, from a digital archive to some kind of physical sensory archive.
We met to discuss the progress of our Sensory Labels, John who runs the Tower Project came to the session.
Tower Project Discuss
First we had a report from the Engage Conference by Tim and Judith.
Judith and Tim report from the Engage Conference in Bristol
Nic discussed with the group the progress of the Sensory Label triggers.
Nic demos the progress of the Sensory Labels
We tested some aromas for the Sensory Labels smell compartment.
testing smells in the box
Noelle helped our Co-researchers record thoughts about their chosen objects for the Sensory Label soundscape.
Judith showed John from Tower Project her Sensory Label and we discussed how our Co-researchers could take part in some peer learning with others from the Tower Project holding their own sensory label workshop.
The Sensory Objects project was represented by co-researchers Judith Appiah and Tim Elson supported by Beverley Agard from the Tower Project, who co-presented with Nic and Kate at ENGAGE 2014 conference in Bristol. The picture below shows Judith and Tim preparing for the presentation with Beverley on the train to Bristol.
Preparatory Work on Train
We arrived just at the Bristol Marriot Royal Hotel just in time for lunch where we met up with Nic. The picture below shows all at lunch.
Lunch at conference
Our presentation was at 2pm we presented work from the three years of the project then had a hands-on workshop. The picture below shows Tim and Judith presenting.
Tim and Judith Present
We showed some of the work from MERL, Sian’s mooing boot and Rumena’s Chicken. Judith explained about her chosen object, a pair of leather slippers, African treasure and how she has made her sensory label. As we were presenting our audience were tweeting so some of the the images below show the tweeted response from the audience.
How Judith developed her sensory label
Judith invited people to try her sensory label.
Judith sensory label
Next Tim spoke about the development of his Sensory Label. He showed a slide of the miniature sarcophagus in the Enlightenment Gallery and explained using his wiki his research of the object and how he had drawn an aeroplane because it reminded him of flying to Eygpt.
Tweet of Tims presentation
Tweet of Tims plane
Tim invited the audience to try out his sensory label the picture below shows the audience tweet.
Tweet of Tim’s Box
We told the audience about some of the other ideas for Sensory Labels including Justin’s ideas for the Warwick Vase reminding him of the FA cup and that he wants the smell of his box to be the smell of Cheese and Onion crisps and Beer as he thinks of this as the smell of success! This made people laugh and a response on Twitter, where some people liked the idea of the smell one did not. The picture below shows the discussion.
Cheese and Onion Crisps and Beer
Then we moved on to the hands on workshop part of the presentation we invited the audience to tryout some of the tools we have used in our workshops to help understand triggers, controlling sounds with sensors. We demonstrated Squishy Circuits, littleBits, sound boxes and littleBits go Large.
LittleBits go LARGE demo
The picture below shows a tweet during the demos of little bits go LARGE.
Tweet Enjoying handson workshop
Tim and Judith sat at a table each and demonstrated how little bits and little bits go LARGE work while Nic explained more about the research ideas behind the workshop. The pictures below show everyone during the hands on workshop.
Workshop with bits
TIm during littleBits workhsop
TIm demos littleBits
Judith and Nic demo little Bits go LARGE
After the workshop we went listen to a presentation by Mohit Bakaya a commissioning editor for BBC Radio 4. He spoke about the need to widen the types of people presenting programmes to widen the audience who listen to Radio 4. We wondered if he would commission Sensory Object to make a programme?
Listening to Mohit Bakaya from Radio 4
Listening at the Conference
We found the conference a really valuable experience, we learnt a lot and found the audience in our presentation were really ‘engaged’ asking lots of interesting questions and were keen to find out more about the Sensory Objects project, discuss new ideas and opportunities. The picture below shows Tim, Judith and Bev about to leave the conference hotel.
The picture below shows the easy read programme for session fourteen.
Tower Project FOURTEEN
First we looked at Tower Project Wikis. Our co-researchers have been busy researching information about their object in the Enlightenment Gallery at The British Musuem. The picture below shows the group looking at their Wiki.
Group look at wiki research pages
Each co-researcher had prepared something to say about their object ready to record for the soundtrack of their sensory label.
Tims wiki text to record
The picture below shows recording each co-researcher.
Recording info about objects
The picture below shows Nic demonstrating the latest version of the sensory label. This one had an engraved image of Sam on it.
Nic shows latest version of sensory labels
The picture below shows Sam feeling her engraved wood drawing with her eyes closed.
The picture below shows everyone looking at the smell container inside the label box.
Group discussing boxes
The picture below shows Sam with the seaweed Noelle brought in from Brighten. Everyone smelt the seaweed it smelt very strong!
Sam with Seaweed
Some of the group still needed to decide how their sounds would be triggered. The picture below shows Adalana trying out different switches to trigger her sound. We are also looking for some more sounds for Adalana as the Music Box sound we have sounded too much like an Ice Cream Van!
Adalana Sensory Postcard
Kelly and Judith are shown in the picture below researching triggers with littleBits.
Below is the easy read programme for session thirteen.
TOWER PROJECT 13
We had a catch up meeting. We heard about the Tower Project creating and being on a float of the Lord Mayors Show, the picture below shows the group looking at BBC video footage of the event.
Group watch video of the Lord Mayors Show
Then we discussed our our co-presentation at the Diversity in Heritage Meeting where Judith and Tim co-presented our research with Nic and Kate. The picture below shows the group looking at a Mercury Bulb on display in the Cinema Museum.
Talking about Cinema Museum
Then we looked at the co-researchers Wikis they had been very busy researching their chosen objects at the Enlightenment Gallery and adding to their Wiki in the Research Section. The pictures below shows some images of the Wiki research pages, Michael researched about the bowl he chose which he found it very difficult to find any information about. He imagined eating chicken and chips in the bowl. Julies research explained that she chose a stuffed Heron from the collection as it reminded her of the symbol for Tottenham Hotspur! The picture below shows Julies football shirt.
Why Julie chose a Heron
Then we discussed developing the sensory labels further feeling the wood panels in the picture below.
feeling surface of sensory labels
Tim demoed his box the sound was triggered by tilting the box or by a touch sensor.
Tim demos his box
We discussed how everyone would like to trigger sounds. The picture below show Adjoa exploring how to trigger sound.
Hearing sound from the box
Adjoa tests box
We also tried out some other smells
More smells to test
Nic and Kassie worked with Tim, Michael, Sam and Katy to research various types of triggers the pictures below show Tim and Michael at work and a close up of a set of triggers Nic had made to help discover and chose how things should trigger.
We co-presented our research with Judith and Tim representing the Tower Project with their support worker Bev, Kate and Nic also presented and Kassie filmed and helped with the hands on workshop part of the session. The picture below shows Tim and Judith preparing for the meeting with Bev and Kassie.
Judith and Tim prepare
The pictures below show members of the Diversity in Heritage Meeting and Poppy who was leading the meeting.
Poppy and members of the H&D group
Members of the Heritage and Diversity Group
Before the meeting we were given a tour of the Cinema Museum the picture below shows members of the meeting during the tour.
Tour Cinema Museum
During Guided Tour of the Cinema Museum
The picture below shows members of the sensory objects team presenting our research.
Presentation by Sensory Objects
The video below has some edited highlights from our presentation
Here is the easy read programme for session ten at The British Museum.
Tower Project TEN Easy Read Programme
We tried out the Audio Tour of the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum. We did this research in response to some of our co-researchers idea to create an audio guide for the objects they had chosen. Below are images of the group using the Audio Tour.
Using Audio Guides
Listening to the Audio Tour
Our 12 objects chosen by our co-researchers were different from the 10 on the Audio Guide.
Using Audio Tour of Enlightenment Gallery
Our Co-researchers will reflect on their experiences in our next session. After lunch our co-researchers were given a sheet with images of the artwork they have made in response to their chosen objects. They had to recognise who’s work it was, what object is represented and draw a guide to where it could be found on a plan of the Enlightenment Gallery. Below in an image of the sheet.
Everyones Object in Enlightenment Gallery
The picture below shows Adalana, Justin, Michael and Tim working with the sheet and Judith showing off her completed sheet. The sheet was to help our co-researchers think about how we will guide the public to their sensory labels on our event day. Sam had mentioned she enjoyed trails and guides, often designed for children to discover museums, Sam said that people with learning difficulties would also enjoy this format if it was designed for adults.
Sensory Labels Hunt
Picture below shows some of the Sensory Objects research team waving in the Enlightenment Gallery, our group waving makes a good composition with the statue behind. Thanks to Adam photographer from the Tower Project for the picture.
Sensory Objects research team wave at British Museum
First we had a discussion about ideas for our event bringing sensory labels to the Enlightenment Gallery, we asked the group for their thoughts. There were many ideas including creating an audio guide of sensory soundscapes to link to chosen objects suggested by Judith and having a living statue which was Kelly’s idea when asked what conversation she would have with the statue she had chosen she said “somebody get me out of this museum I’ve been stuck in here for years!”. Sam wanted to create some kind of game where the goal is to discover the sensory labels in the gallery rather than have a guide map, she mentioned that there is often something like this for children but that people with learning disabilities would enjoy this too. Tim suggested we should have flags of the countries where the objects we have chosen come from to direct people to our sensory lables. Kate took notes of all the ideas and we will work on them over the next few weeks.
Discussion about sensory labels
Nic gave a demo of triggers, he explained that a sound or movement on our sensory labels, currently triggered by a black button, could be triggered by stroking, he used Sian from Reading College’s Moot Boot to demonstrate the idea. The picture below shows Ryan stroking the Moot it moos when the fake fur cow hide is stroked. Nic also demoed Rachel’s pig which was triggered by a proximity sensor so when the person stood in front of it the sound and movement of the pig was triggered.
Stroking the Moot
Nic also wanted to see if anyone remembered how some of the sensors worked from last week. He showed Adalana as she missed the last session.
Nic demos Trigger
The picture below shows Adjoa and Ryan demoing creating sounds with the littleBits synth kit.
Trying out Syth Kit
Tim showed his Egyptian hieroglyph to the group. He had drawn a picture inspired by his object a small wooden Egyptian sarcophagus. He wanted to draw a modern object a plane in the style of Egyptian hieroglyphs, he also wrote his name. We then took a photo of his drawing and engraved the image in wood using a laser cutter. The drawing surface now embossed could be felt and it also had the smell of burnt wood.
Tim’s plane engraved
We then worked more creating textures and sounds for our sensory labels. Adoja showed how she had used air hardening clay to create a model of the coral she has chosen she also added in some beeswax because it reminded her of the surface texture of the coral.
Adjoa with her model of coral
Katy, Ashley, Kelly and Ryan all made models with air hardening clay.
We also began to find sounds to build soundscapes for each object we will continue with this next week.
Below is the easy read programme for session seven.
Tower project Workshop SEVEN programme
We split into two groups, group A was Investigating littleBits go LARGE the video below shows some short clips of the investigation as we tried to find out how easy it was to understand the pink output devices were and if we could add something visual to aid understanding. Our UROP (Undergraduate research opportunity placement) student Kassie introduced the session, the clip shows the group trying a light sensor.
Group B began to explore further the idea of a Sensory Label exploring textures, smells and sounds.
Sensory Labels Workshop
Sensory Labels Workshop2
Tim had a go at about making his own Hieroglyphic’s inspired by the Egyptian mummy he chose. We discussed how we could use the laser cutter at the University of Reading to engrave it into wood. The picture below shows Tim’s drawing of a plane and name done in the style of Hieroglyphs.
Our session was held at The British Museum, their Access and Equality Manager, Jane Samuels, introduced us to Judy Joseph an ESOL tutor (English for Speakers of Other Languages).
Jane introduces Judy to the Tower Project
Judy picked out several objects from the Enlightenment Gallery, our Co-researchers really enjoyed the session and were able to concentrate really well.
Judy explained the history and geography of the objects and also added some sensory information including a sachet of drinking chocolate that Judy brought out when we looked at chocolate cups in the collection.
Chocolate cups from Sir Hans Sloane’s collection
Judy explained It was Sir Hans Sloane who introduced milk chocolate for drinking. He had drunk chocolate while working as a doctor in the West Indies, but found it ‘nauseous and hard of digestion’. So he made it taste nicer by boiling the beans with milk and sugar.
Judy also told us about Sir Hans Sloane’s medical specimen collection. Judy added sensory information including spices such as nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon bark and explained how they were used as medicine. For example Judy described how clove oil was used to help soothe toothache.
Judy Specimens and Spices
Judy also told us about a wooden shoe from India, Judy asked who would wear the shoe? It would be worn by someone rich who didn’t have to walk very far as it would be very difficult to walk in.
Judy showed us a replica of the Rosetta Stone, she asked the group if they could find a label saying you could touch the replica. The group found it under the stone it was quite hard to find, then we all touched the stone, some tapped the stone and we found the replica sounded hollow as it was made of fiberglass. We learnt about the languages on the stone, Greek, Demotic and Hieroglyphic and how the stone holds the key to understanding Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Touching Replica Rosetta
After lunch we went to look at the original Rosetta Stone in room 4 the picture below shows the stone in its glass case.
Group visit RosettaStoneOriginal
There were many people in the gallery looking at the stone, you could not touch this one.
After Judy’s tour our Co-researchers continued to gather information to create sensory labels for a chosen object in the Enlightenment Gallery. We had a new member of the group Ashley he chose a stuffed Rat.
Ashley chose a Rat
The picture below shows some of the objects the group has chosen, Sam continues to be interested in shells, Judith in the leather bag and sandals and I think Adelana looked at more rings.
We met at the Rix Centre after a break over August. Our Co-researchers did some independent research visiting the London Transport Museum trying out our Sensory Activities book.
Discussing Transport Museum Visit
We started our session with hearing about the visit looking at the updates on the wiki webpage updated by our co-researchers. Our Co-researchers really enjoyed their visit, they noted down some general access issues, to do with ramps and size of lifts etc. We discussed the need to focus on the sensory nature of our project. The group had picked out things that they enjoyed, such as having ago with a ticket machine that actually produced an old bus ticket, some mentioned music playing by some of the exhibits, and a handle to crank to help understand how wheels work on a bus.
We discussed the sensory activities book focussing on the Sensory Expeditions cartoon page. We had 2 new names of the book suggested by our co-researchers ‘Recipe Book or Index. Some people found the image of the camera misleading as it looked like a radio, the big nose on the smell cartoon was mistaken as Pinocchio, they asked why the cartoon had no eyes? Someone asked why there was a mouse in the picture?
After lunch we didn’t follow our planned programme, we introduced the sound boxes
and started to learn about electronics and triggering information with Squishy Circuits, we asked the group to create a trigger for a light and a buzzer by creating a circuit and breaking the circuit.
Working with Squishys
We also started to think about how we could add some sensory information to the enlightenment gallery. Everyone was given a postcard that could record a sound. We asked our co-researchers to think about what sounds, stories, tactile materials, images or even smells we could use to enhance our experiences of the chosen object from the Enlightenment Gallery, the idea is to develop some kind of sensory label rather than a text label.
Working Sound Cards
The picture below shows posit notes with ideas from the co-researchers for sensory post cards.
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
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
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
The video below shows Nina giving a talk which has similar content to the presentation at the Inclusive Museums Conference.
During this session the group discussed objects they had seen at the British Museum in the Enlightenment Gallery. Below is the programme for the day.
Tower Project Programme Session 4
Carly one of two PhD students contributing to the Sensory Objects Project led a session to reflect on the objects chosen from the Enlightenment Gallery. The picture below is an example of one of our Co-researchers Justin choosing his object in the Enlightenment Gallery, a silver replica of the Warwick Vase, he chose the vase because it reminded him of a football trophy, when asked to describe why he chose it he held the Warwick Vase above his head.
Justin and the Warwick Vase
One by one our co-researchers presented their chosen objects to the rest of the group and shared their thoughts on this object (why they liked it, what they imagined it would feel/smell like etc)….Our visitors from Austria shared their chosen objects they also presented some drawings and thoughts about the objects, this was their final session with the group.
Austrian visitors Present Ideas
Then Carly asked our co-researchers to imagine they had a piece of clay in their hands and ask them to sculpt their object out of this imaginary clay.
Carly demos invisible Clay
Some of the group said how much they disliked real clay because it was too messy, but imaginary clay was nice and clean.
Working with imaginary clay
The group were really good at remembering and imagining what size the object they had chosen was, what shape it was, if it was smooth/rough etc…
Passing invisible clay object
When their object was complete Carly asked us to imagine our object had become really heavy, and we had to hand it to the next person, then we imagined it being really light.
Making objects with imaginary clay
After lunch the group were asked to upload their pictures on to our wiki webpage and add thoughts about the objects they have chosen from the Enlightenment Gallery. Our Co-researchers were going to carry out some independent research during August using our Sensory Expedition book. We had a vote to decide which museum our group would visit, the group chose the Transport Museum and our co-researchers would add information about the visit to the Wiki ready for discussion on our next session on Sept 3rd.
Tower Project Sensory Object co-researchers visit The British Museum focussing on the the Enlightenment Gallery, we were joined by visitors to the Rix Centre from Austria.
TowerProject at The British Museum
Below is our programme plan for the day.
Tower Project session 3 The British Museum
Sam began our day with showing me a drawing she had made about the Sensory Objects project.
Samantha and her Sensory Project Pic
We were welcomed to the museum by their Access and Equality manager Jane Samuels.
Jane welcomes Group
Jane gave us an image of Sir Hans Sloane and asked our group to see if they could spot the painting as they entered Room 2.
Jane said that when we found the painting we would find Hilary Williams who would give us a talk about Sir Hans Sloane, his collection and the Enlightenment Gallery see picture below.
Group Listening to Hilary
Hilary asked our co-researchers how old is the Earth? See picture below.
Based on the Bible people used to think it was 400 years old but when people discovered fossils they realised it was millions of years old.
Hilary asks how old is the earth
Hilary explained that the Enlightenment Gallery contained collections of natural things like shells, animals, mineral rocks and fossils and things made by humans such as tools and artworks.
After lunch our co-researchers were asked to choose an object in the Enlightenment Gallery that they liked and would like more information about. We asked them to consider what sensory information their object had and if they would like more. How would if feel if you could touch it? smell if you could sniff it etc Below are some of their choices, Justin chose a replica of silver cup.
Justin with Cup
Adalana the replica of the Pitt Diamond.
Adalana and diamond
Close up of replica Pitt Diamond that Adalana chose.
Emen chose a carved foot in a sandel.
Emen draws sandle
Katy chose a snake, rat and mongoose.
Katy Snake Rat
Tim chose a miniature Egyptian mummy sarcophagus.
Tims objects collected
Ryan chose Chinese Plates.
Julie chose a stuffed heron which she made some notes about.
Julie draws a heron
Sam and Noelle talk about shell collection and how it reminded her of her mum who lived by the sea.
Sam and Noelle
Michael chose a big bowl
Michael and his bowl
Judith chose objects from Africa
Some of the group tried out the British Museum handling table, they enjoyed using the magnifying glass to view the objects.
Sam tries the handling table
Katy at handling table holding a flint.
Katy at Handling table
Our co-researchers collected thoughts and stories about the chosen object (see pictures below), ready to talk about their chosen object when we meet at the Rix Centre next week.
In our second session with our Co-researchers from the Tower Project we asked them to bring in an object that was special for them and they would be able to talk about why they brought it. Below is the easy read outline plan of the day.
Week 2 Tower Project Session
The theme of the day was to create a Pop Up Museum form objects everyone had been asked to bring in. Everyone had brought something they could talk about we made a video of each person with their object.
We wanted to think about objects people own that are special for them and how they transform when they become part of a museum collection.
Co-researchers with objects Emem photographs them
First we described the object we had brought in, what it meant to each person, and where we kept it, what it made us think of when we saw it. The picture below shows Justin with his trophy for Disco Dancing he won it when he was 3 years old. Next Katy with her musical globe of the Lion King bought for her by her sister who had seen the stage play and Marc a visitor from Austria who is with us for 3 weeks on a study placement he had bought some wafer biscuits that are typically Austrian as a gift for everyone at the Rix Centre.
Talking about the objects
Once we had videoed everyone talking about their object we took instant photos of the objects and created a label with images and some text. The picture below shows all the Co-researchers with the labels they had made.
Everyone at the Pop up Museum
Next we decided to make categories for our Pop Up Museum, we chose 7 which is the same number they have in the Enlightenment Museum. Our section names for the Pop Up Museum were 1 Toys and Games, 2 Food and Drink, 3 Family Histories, 4 Places, 5 Awards, 6 Events and 7 Curios. The image below shows the group at work displaying their objects in different sections, Noelle helps Michael display his football.
Noelle helps organise the Pop Up Museum Michael’s Football is displayed
Popup museum in the making
Exhibits in the Pop Up Museum, we had some glass display cases which we tried out each object inside some were too big, so we used the base. Putting the objects under glass made changed the object. The images below show exhibits in our museum in the first picture you can see Adalana she chose to display her white cane, Kell showed her Grandmothers wedding ring and Julie a Champagne glass she was given on her 30th birthday.
Adalana, Kelly and Julie pop up exhibits
The picture below shows items brought in by Tower Project support workers Debbie displayed old money, Minos a mosaic that reminded him of Greece and Farhat (sorry need to find out how to spell name) a watch that he was given for his 25th birthday the 3rd of his collection.
Support workers Pop up Exhibits
The picture below shows Samatha’s journal where she writes about all the work she does, next is Tim’s soldier at the Trooping of the Colour he has a big collection of them he spoke how putting the figure under the glass dome changed its scale and finally Emen’s medal he won for running, he has lots of medals for sport.
Popup museum Sam Tim and Emem
Below shows Ryans bus he used to travel on a Route Master, Adjoa’s teddy given to her by a friend at the airport, a collection of all our wrist watches from some of the group and the Austrian food, chocolate, biscuits and pumpkin oil.
The Tower Project Pop Up Museum
We photographed the Pop Up Museum see pictures below
We took lots of photos
Austrian food and drink exhibits with sensory information on the labels
Austrian treats exhibit Pop up museum
It was a really interesting day, hearing about everyones object and then seeing them displayed. We talked a bit about how our museum might have connections to the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum we are visiting next. See a picture of our discussion below we remembered Andy’s talk about Museums and Collections last week, where the fork came from, what is was used for originally, who bought it and how it ended up as an exhibit. We asked our co-researchers what was our research question was? They said how to make museums more accessible. We will explore adding sensory information to tell stories about objects from our Co-researchers perspective. Our group suggested using video, touch sounds, braille to help make museums more enjoyable to visit.
We held an introductory session with our new Co-Researchers from the Tower Project London at the Rix Centre who will be researching sensory objects for the British Museum. The picture below shows the easy read plan for the day.
Tower Project Session ONE
It was great to meet every one from the Tower Group see the picture below
Tower Group during first session
Andy used cartoons to help us think about objects, collecting and displaying the objects in museums see picture below