Science Museum | Community-in-Residence (Ceramic City Stories)
A group of volunteers from Stoke-on-Trent enjoyed a unique research experience exploring some of the most valuable scientific collections in the world at The Science Museum in London. During this intensive weekend challenge those taking part were offered behind-the-scenes access and bespoke informal tours of Blythe House - an extensive object store in West London (and former National Savings Bank headquarters). Participants will be given an opportunity to access and explore more than 170,000 artefacts not on public display. They also visited and spend time in The Science Museum itself during the weekend.
The team were guided and supported by senior curators and research professionals. Participants were encouraged to capture their experience from start to finish using smart phones, cameras or sound recorders. An extensive collection of photographs, short videos, sound recordings, hand written notes and even some sketches were produced. This material has been shared within the team and some with the wider public via social media during the event. A 'living archive' will be published this week and shared online on this website Ceramic City Stories and Pararchive
Focus and Themes:
Participants were guided by curators throughout the visit and there were inevitably some practical limitations. However - the Science Museum wanted this to be an open access exploration wherever possible. The participants were encouraged to influence the curators - where they stopped, dwelled a bit longer or perhaps even returned to look again?
This residency evolved from the Pararchive (Ceramic City Stories) project. It provided a starting point or 'frame' for how the team might begin to explore these extensive collections. There are many Stoke-on-Trent artefacts and connections held by The Science Museum including ceramics, The Great Exhibition, Darwen, Wedgwood and Lunar Society. The team discussed a saw some of this material and were inspired by the local, national and international connections and stories behind them. However, as predicted, is participants soon became totally immersed in this immense world science collection. They got understandably distracted and that was absolutely fine of course!
Science Museum online resources:
As previously identified - those taking part were encouraged to photograph and record their experience and favourite artefacts. With permission - this is already being used to create a digital exhibition and wider share online. This material and dissemination will help other people to gain a glimpse of some of the artefacts stored in Blythe House - participants will in effect help to create a mini 'virtual tour'. We also aim to create a small 'pop up' display of at least some of the items that participants identify in The Science Museum and in a Stoke-on-Trent museum (both of these displays will be subject to negotiation and further funding).
Finally, we hope that this residency, the team's experiences and the way we share them with the wider public using online resources and displays will inspire new links and future partnerships between Stoke-on-Trent and The Science Museum. The project also provides an innovative pilot for exploring public access and use of archives as well as wider public engagement.
Science Museum | Community-in-Residence (Ceramic City Stories) is funded by the Digital Economy Sustainable Society Network+. The project is led by the Science Museum in partnership with the University of Leeds. This pilot action research activity aims to encourage new thinking in relation to public engagement with national cultural collections. This pilot involves three community partnerships - Stoke-on-Trent, England and Bute, Scotland and Manchester.
*Scroll over image + click arrows to view more photographs
Science Museum Residency (Flickr - Group):