This week, The Museum of Everything is taking over the critique room in Minto House at Edinburgh University, and I’m helping out as a volunteer co-curator on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. (Of course, I’ll be popping in as a visitor-contributor on the other days too!) This interesting activity is a part of the university’s Innovative Learning Week, and hopefully will get visitors to rethink not only the way museum collections are curated and managed, but also what belongs in or can even be put in a museum.
The rules are simple, and posted around the room for visitors to see. Essentially, anything one can write, draw, or stick to one of the provided cards and pin to the wall is fair game. This attracted a whole range of interesting contributions and even more interesting juxtapositions as the cards ended up in different clusters on the walls. Intentional, or purely coincidental? Only the contributor who pinned up the particular card you’re wondering about can say, but have a look at some of my favorite groupings:
It’s only the first day and there’s already a huge variety of cards on the walls, which makes me excited to see how the room changes throughout the week. A cardboard model of what a “museum of everything” could look like if it was a permanent building has also been contributed, as well as an evolving miniature model of the room itself!
Encouraging visitors to the museum to participate, and creating a few contributions myself, was a really invigorating experience. I always notice whenever museums organize interactive exhibitions or even public workshops, people will initially say they haven’t picked up a marker to draw or even touched art supplies for months. Soon, though, they can get into the project with a lot of creativity and intensity of focus that you’d usually associate with a self-proclaimed artist. For me, it was great to take a break from academic work and make some cards of my own. I think the interest in these types of projects prove that many people are really hungry for a collaborative and creative experience when they think about or look at art, as opposed to just passively listening to an audio tour or reading a wall label.
On Wednesday, Richard Williams will give a talk on the academic and art historical rationale behind the Museum of Everything project, and on Friday there will be a panel discussion on the results of the project as well as how to conserve and document it, and most importantly, what do we do with all these index cards!? I’ll update with more posts about how the museum develops over the course of the week.