I was very happy to be invited to be part of a workshop at the United Nations (written up on Good, Form & Spectacle). Naturally, I took along Nandi from the Museum in a Box to share the idea with colleagues over there. Interesting too, how the path of a museum object can reflect information about its owner(s).
I came to The Small Museum as a visitor today, along with a couple of little visitors.
Henry checked out the not so colossal foot. We tried to fit it in some size 5s but sadly it didn’t fit!
Arthur put the objects in height order…he remembered what George had said about Nandi Bull being bigger than a tree so guessed him the biggest.
Felix had them enthralled with his sensor which made a picture of the foot get bigger and smaller on the screen…
And, like everyone else, they signed the visitors book.
Thanks for making us so welcome!
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:
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!
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.
… and how much of this spiritualism and life is presented to us as at the Museum?
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!
We’ve found some amazing photos of Nandi Bull in situ.
Often he is adorned with stunning flowers in vibrant oranges and yellows.Today I had much fun embracing my inner-crafter, creating some flowers for our display.
Here is the first batch.
Here’s the full display.
And Tom S and George with the reveal.
Remember to whisper your wishes to Nandi, he has the ear of Lord Shiva.
We started this morning with what has now become our cleansing ritual, where we remove the previous day’s display, stick that on the wall, and then prepare our new day’s actual tabula rasa.
Our basic idea is to prepare a new display each day based on one or more of the objects. Today is our Nandi Bull.
Here’s his label:
Figure of Nandi
India, Deccan, 1500s
The humped bull Nandi (which means ‘rejoicing’) appears at the entrance of every temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, facing the god with a constant serene gaze. Symbolising strength, virility and fertility, as well as religious and moral duties, Nandi is widely recognised both as Shiva’s gatekeeper and as the animal on which he rides. Seated with his legs tucked underneath his body, this figure portrays a representation of Nandi from the southern Indian tradition.
And here’s what he looks like in the museum:
We were struck that the austere granite figure of the Nandi Bull in situ was so inert and static compared to the energy and colour and life that surrounds the bulls installed at shrines to Siva, in real life. They’re celebrated, covered in garlands, whispered to, and surrounded by people, fire and music. The museum experience shows us nothing of that. It didn’t take us long to pick an idea where the display transforms from something bland into something with energy, color and movement.
Here’s the work in progress. We’ll post the finished thing when it’s, well, finished.