Key to the Door… of the Science Museum!

*Mosaic tile design, Blythe House, London - former National Savings Bank Headquarters Building.
**Image courtesy of + thanks to Steve Parker on Flickr

Science Museum | Community-in-Residence (Ceramic City Stories)
Saturday 22nd November 2014 - Sunday 23rd November 2014
A small group of volunteers from Stoke-on-Trent will enjoy a unique 2-day research experience exploring some of the most valuable scientific collections in the world at The Science Museum in London. They will be 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 will also visit and spend time in The Science Museum itself during the weekend.
The team will be guided and supported by senior curators and research professionals. Participants will be encouraged to capture their experience from start to finish using smart phones, cameras and/or notebooks. We hope people will create an extensive collection of photographs, short videos, sound recordings, hand written notes and perhaps even some sketches. We will encourage and support the team to share much of this material with the rest of the team and - in turn - the wider public via social media and a project website.
Focus and Themes:
Participants will be guided by curators throughout the visit and there will be some practical limitations that will have to be adhered to of course. However - the Science Museum want this to be an open access exploration wherever possible. The participants will be encourage to influence the curators - where might we stop, dwell a bit longer or perhaps even return and look again?
This residency has evolved from the Pararchive (Ceramic City Stories) project. This provides 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 will discuss and see some of this material and we hope these local, national and international connections and stories will inspire them. However, it is likely that participants will very quickly become totally immersed in this immense world science collection. They will get distracted and that is absolutely fine of course!
Science Museum online resources:
About the Collections
Library, Archives and Collections
Online Science
As previously identified - those taking part will be encouraged to photograph and record their experience and favourite artefacts. With permission this material will be used to create a digital exhibition online. This material will help other people to gain a glimpse of some of the artefacts stored in Blythe House - participants will 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 teams 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 will also provide 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 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.