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January 16, 2007

Their space

Just found a new report from think tank Demos called Their Space, on the relationship between young people and digital media. They hope to have approached technology from the perspective of children and try to tell positive stories about young people and technology.

Aspects reminded me of some of Noga's chapter in this book.

January 9, 2007

The exhibit as film set

We visited the Royal BC Museum in Victoria, Canada, a relatively new museum with a focus on British Columbia history and natural history. The exhibits are immersive and give the impression of walking into the past, whether you find yourself standing by a lifelike woolly mammoth (that is a real sheet of ice by the way, which children walking by are encouraged to touch), walking along a seashore with sea lions and puffins (and a real shallow pool of sea creatures they are definitely not supposed to touch) or making your way through a recreated 19th-century town.


Walking through this museum is like walking through a film set; of dubious educational value but highly entertaining, I think. The two young children we were with (3 and 6) ran through these rooms fairly quickly unless we stopped them to point something out.
The galleries of objects seemed very well designed though: a bit like the Edinburgh museum, many items, boxed fossils etc. were set up with labels and notes presented as 'field notes' with magnifying glasses. The feeling of an anthropologist's field lab was dramatic -- a bit Indiana Jones?


The new Ocean Gallery is heavily stylized to give you the feeling of being submerged in a Victorian submarine, ('just like Captain Nemo' says the pamphlet). It is particularly nicely set up with aquariums, fossils and interactive displays such as a microscope with different specimens, encased in plastic, for children to sort through and examine themselves.


There is also an undersea cliff through a huge portal window, viewable through a periscope, and the creatures can be identified on a nearby computer terminal. Good fun for our 6-year-old visitor. What is the greater critical message behind these artefacts and galleries? I would have had to visit the other 3 floors of the museum to tell. The galleries on first nations art and the settlement of the province would no doubt have produced a stronger reaction.