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Our First Bequest!

It is with great pleasure that I announce our first gift, The Arthur & Henry Maxwell Bequest. It’s a fabulous Museum in a Box, full of treasures from two smalls, who happened to visit us yesterday. They were inspired by beards and the Small Museum which is actually just a little room because museums are supposed to be big.

File 31-03-2015 10 36 46 File 31-03-2015 10 36 33 File 31-03-2015 10 36 13

What a thrill! Thank you, Arthur and Henry!

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museuminabox, somersethouse

The Museum Vs. Reality

 

Our fourth day publicly prototyping Museum in a Box was centered around the idea that what you see in an object – be it a miniature 3D print or the original object in a museum – rarely tells you the whole story.

The former gives you an idea of the shape of an artifact, the latter adds scale, detail and information on colour and material. You might even be lucky enough to have one of those museum labels nearby to give you even more data:

label-nandi 2

But this doesn’t always give you a great sense of what these objects meant or mean to the humans that made or used the object. In our research on our 4th object in focus, the Figure of Nandi, we learned that these iconic statues have been part of Hindu religious ceremonies for thousands of years – and are still celebrated today.

As I lean forward to softly hum my wishes in His ears, I feel myself detaching from the chaos of the world outside. It is like stepping into a quiet room – filled with peace, pin drop silence. […] It’s in those silent moments, I feel His power… and a connection is established – me with the divine, me with myself…
And, me with the Nandi!

~ myyatradiary.com

The significance of Nandi bull in religion is huge. Nandi bull is the animal that is often associated with the Lord Shiva. Nandi Bull was a great devotee of the lord and would always be seen with him.

~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2C7OIxrfOc

… and how much of this spiritualism and life is presented to us as at the Museum?

BM_nandi-bull

So that was the simple idea underpinning today’s exhibition – the two sides of an objects life: the one you are presented with in a Museum and the one that exists in real life:

Final thought: it is really fun to be thinking and making non-digital displays of these objects! I highly recommend a hands on craft prototype day to anyone!

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Collection Data

The collection is tiny. Ten objects. It’s liberating to have such a small collection, because our work can be not related to understanding the scope and scale of it, but to quickly dive into stories about each object.

All the objects are listed as Museum in a Box Version 1. In the last couple of days, we’ve focused on single objects, but have some ideas for looking at the whole collection as a group in next week’s work. The fact that this is a semi-random set of British Museum objects is also lending itself to an editorial point of view on the last two days, to look into stories about where each object came from around the world, and how it ended up in Bloomsbury.

But, to the point of this post, we’re also publishing this collection data online. It’s right here (Version 1, last updated 2:20pm March 20, 2015) as a CSV:

Object Name,MIAB_ID,MIAB_URL,BM Explore URL,BM Collection URL,BM Open Data URL,Wikipedia,MyMiniFactory ID,Country of Origin,Place Found,Period,Date,Measurements,Material,Notes
Colossal Marble Foot,37542537,https://thesmallmuseum.org/museum-in-a-box/museum-in-a-box-version-1/colossal-foot/,http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/gr/c/colossal_marble_foot.aspx,http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1404142&partId=1&searchText=colossal+marble+foot&page=1,GAA80104,,4566,Italy,Italy / Naples,Roman Imperial,1st-2nd AD,"L:88.9cm, W:48.26cm",Parian marble,Statue would have been 5m tall
Crouching Lion,37542546,https://thesmallmuseum.org/museum-in-a-box/museum-in-a-box-version-1/crouching-lion/,,"http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?searchText=%20The%20Nereid%20Monument&place=23211&ILINK|34484,|assetId=172268&objectId=460580&partId=1",GAA8133,,4410,Turkey,Turkey / Xanthus,Classical Greek,400BC,L:1.6m,marble,
Henan Budai Buddha,37542555,https://thesmallmuseum.org/museum-in-a-box/museum-in-a-box-version-1/budai-hesheng/,http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/asia/s/stoneware_figure_of_budai_lau.aspx,http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=259077&partId=1&searchText=buddha&images=true&place=42791&page=1,RRC10037,,3396,China,China / Henan,Ming dynasty,1486,"H:119.2cm, W:65cm, D:41cm",,
Hoa Hakananai'a,37542564,https://thesmallmuseum.org/museum-in-a-box/museum-in-a-box-version-1/hoa-hakananaia/,http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aoa/h/hoa_hakananaia.aspx,http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=512302&partId=1&searchText=hoa&images=true&page=1,EOC3130,,3228,Easter Island,Polynesia / Easter Island / Orongo,,1200 (approx),"H:242cm, W:96cm, D:47cm","stone, coral, basalt",Hoa Hakananai'a ('lost or stolen friend') / Moai (ancestor figure)
Housepost,37542573,https://thesmallmuseum.org/museum-in-a-box/museum-in-a-box-version-1/house-post/,,http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=492756&partId=1&searchText=house+post&images=true&page=1,EOC23102,,4667,Papua New Guinea,Oceania / Melanesia / New Guinea / Papua New Guinea / East Sepik / Ambunti,,Register 1964,"H:100 inches, H:254cm",wood,Anthropomorphic
Nandi Bull,37542582,https://thesmallmuseum.org/museum-in-a-box/museum-in-a-box-version-1/nandi-bull/,,http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=248943&partId=1&searchText=nandi+bull&images=true&page=1,RRI6925,http://wikipedia.org/wiki/Nandi_%28bull%29,4582,India,,,,,,
Rosetta Stone,37542591,https://thesmallmuseum.org/museum-in-a-box/museum-in-a-box-version-1/rosetta-stone/,http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/t/the_rosetta_stone.aspx,http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=117631&partId=1&searchText=rosetta+stone&page=1,YCA62958,http://wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosetta_Stone,4537,Egypt,Lower Egypt / Nile Delta / El-Rashid / Fort Saint Julie,Ptolemaic,196BC,"H:112.3cm, W:75.7cm, D:28.4cm",granodiorite,Translation http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/articles/r/the_rosetta_stone_translation.aspx
Stone Figure of Xochipilli,37542600,https://thesmallmuseum.org/museum-in-a-box/museum-in-a-box-version-1/figure-of-xochipilli/,http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aoa/s/seated_figure_of_xochipilli.aspx,http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=669693&partId=1&searchText=Xochipilli&page=1,ESA92,,5099,Mexico,,Mexica,AD 1325-1521,"H:55cm, W:32cm","basalt, volcanic stone",Male or Female?
The Bodhisattva Tara,37542609,https://thesmallmuseum.org/museum-in-a-box/museum-in-a-box-version-1/buddhist-goddess-tara/,http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/asia/g/statue_of_tara.aspx,http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=251954&partId=1&searchText=tara&images=true&page=1,RRI137,,3002,Sri Lanka,"between Trincomalee and Batticaloa, Sri Lanka",,AD 700-750,"H:143 cm, W:44 cm, D:29.5cm","gold, bronze",
The Goddess Hathor,37542618,https://thesmallmuseum.org/museum-in-a-box/museum-in-a-box-version-1/goddess-of-hathor/,,http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=111469&partId=1&searchText=Amenhotep&images=true&page=1,YCA69261,,4974,Egypt,Upper Egypt / Temple of Amenhotep III (Thebes),18th Dynasty,,H:139.7cm,limestone,

And we’ve also put it on Github, just for s**ts and g*gg**s, at https://github.com/goodformandspectacle/museuminabox/blob/master/prototype-set-V1.

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Printing Our First Bits of History

DSC04500With Museum in a Box, part of our intention is to put the experience of curation, tactile examination and learning through exploration literally into people’s hands – and what form these physical artifacts take is a fairly involved decision and one that we are interested in exploring.

On the other hand, with our upcoming residency at Somerset House in mind, we wanted to go ahead, print a set of objects and explore the possibilities of 1,000 year old artifacts shrunk down to pocket size with modern tech. So we printed our first set of objects, which you can see in the above photo: Scan the World models printed by iMakr’s My Mini Factory.

3D printing a set of museum objects for human interaction comes with a bunch of interesting considerations, informed by a variety of needs and seeing our first set has got me thinking about a few of them…

Cost

3D printing is an amazing development in manufacturing but is currently still pretty expensive. Quotes from several printers in London for a set of print ready models (meaning the digital 3D files are in the right format, cleaned up, ready to go) came in at £200 – £300.

The expense, among other things, results from a) 3D print services charging by the hour for use of their printers – the bigger the print, the longer it takes, the more it costs and b) a finer print resolution (say 0.05mm layers) takes longer to layer up than a rough resolution (say .3mm per layer). Here are some pics to illustrate what I’m talking about. Those quotes were for “economy” i.e. lowish resolution prints, by the way.

In the interests of making this a more affordable enterprise, we asked iMakr to fit our prints into a much tighter budget and they succeeded by balancing the two factors above. Which brings us to…

Size

As mentioned above, how much will prints cost is a relevant question, but maybe more importantly we need to figure out what is a good size print for a pair of human hands to touch and manipulate and for human eyes to examine. Printing at life size would defeat the purpose of miniaturizing a museum to fit in a box, printing too small means that things feel less substantial and, even worse, might break in the course of printing or use, like our tiiiiny Bodhisattva Tara:

Tuiny Bodhisattva Tara

While this may at first appear to be a big failure, this is part of the learning process we have undertaken, plus, even before we’ve begun, we have our first 3D print conservation project!

Definition & Accuracy

DSC04493What kind of a 3D print is a good 3D print? Does it need to look and feel 100% historically accurate to be useful?

Consider the print we got of the Rosetta Stone:  As you can see, the print is fairly small, much smaller than the original which stands at 114.4cm / 45in. It’s the right general shape but at this scale it’s impossible to make out the hieroglyphic, demotic and Greek figures carved on the original. Heck it’s completely the wrong colour! Do these things make it less valuable or usable?

As a replica for study it may have it’s shortcomings, but as a key, a talisman to unlocking a world of digital data and a physical artifact around which conversations can take place … it might just do 😉

All in all, I think we’ve made a great first step in our research and  with our lovely prints we can explore the issues detailed above and more.

If you have any ideas, questions or suggestions about the topic of this post or our Museum in a Box – please drop us a line!

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Our First Display

Here you can see the ten Museum in a Box objects arranged by size.



Also, if you’d like to visit, our front door says Civic Bureau.

In the time it’s taken me to upload this post on my phone, Harriet’s made the second arrangement, this time by height. Next, we’re making a simple timeline and Tom’s cutting out a bright pink world map.





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Visit Us

We’re doing a two-week residency at The Civic Workshop in The New Wing at Somerset House in London. Starting March 18, we’ll be experimenting in public on The Small Museum Version 1. We plan to be there Monday to Friday between 10am and 5pm (or thereabouts).

Go to The New Wing, look for signs that say Knyttan. Once you see the red neon door, turn back from the entrance. Find butterfly. We’re excited to show you the Museum in a Box project and have a chat about what you think.

Visit Us at Somerset House

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