AIM Members Are Fizzing With Innovation

To discover what inspiring projects AIM members are running at their own organisations, we introduced a new strand at AIM conference this year called ‘Three Minute Museum Fizzers’. Museums and those working in the UK heritage sector were invited to take part and tell the conference audience all about an entrepreneurial project or idea that has impacted positively on their organisation, local community or other stakeholders – all in just three minutes.

Independent museums are well known for creating enterprising projects that encourage social cohesion, income generation or more effective ways of working and the Museum Fizzers strand was developed to celebrate and promote these projects. The six entries each showcased innovative ideas that reflected the resourceful, ‘can do’ attitude of the independent sector.

First to take her place under the spotlight was George Oates, Director of Museum in a Box The project allows you to create a box of replica objects from museums around the world and have it sent to your school or your office or to home. George said:

“Museum in a Box puts museum collections and expert knowledge into your hands, wherever you are in the world. Our working design question is “How can we update the classic museum loan box for the internet age, and how might that improve understanding and engagement with museums?” We’re prototyping towards an answer that’s a genuine, tactile mix of replica objects and contextual content direct from museum curators and educators.”


Photo: courtesy of Museum in a Box

Then Hayley McCafferty-David, Project Manager, West Midlands Museum Partnership, Black Country Living Museum, explained about a new CRM system that has made a big difference at the museum.

“Following an extensive procurement process Black Country Living Museum launched an integrated CRM system in January 2016. This system, which brings together all of the key areas for running a paid museum in one place, also allows bespoke communications with stakeholders at all levels. Tessitura are a well-established North American organisation with clients in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Sweden to name a few. In the UK they are the CRM supplier to some of our most famous cultural establishments including the Royal Opera House and the Royal Albert Hall. BCLM is proud to be the first UK museum to have Tessitura as its CRM system.”

AIM Fizzers Black Country Living Museum picture

Photo: courtesy of Black Country Living Museum  

We then heard from Annie Macsween, Chair of Ness Historical Society, about an emotive project being run on the Isle of Lewis. Annie told us:

“Comunn Eachdraidh Nis based in the north of the Isle of Lewis has undertaken several projects to commemorate WW1. 900 local men were involved in the war with 214 losing their lives. The projects include: A poppy trail where large poppies were mounted at the homes of those lost, an exhibition with artefacts pertaining to the WW1, a major publication Dol Fodha na Grèine (The Going Down of the Sun) , which was shortlisted for a Saltire award as well as a number of other booklets, a mural, a painting commission and forthcoming trip this September to the battlefields of France and Belgium for 40 members of the local community.”      


Photo: Annie Macsween, Chair of Ness Historical Society

Dr Sophie Forgan from The Captain Cook Memorial Museum, then stepped forward to present an uplifting and fun project that is now touring other museums. Sophie said:

“Stubbs’ iconic portrait of a kangaroo came to us on tour from the National Maritime, so how to highlight the presence of this extraordinary painting?  Why, a willow sculpture to stand in the entrance courtyard! Get to grips with the subject!  Something special was inside! Glasgow’s Hunterian grabbed him for the next stage of the tour.  Now in Middlesbrough, where will he hop next? Touched, photographed, hugged, Facebooked, talked about, acted around – ‘Stubbsy’ provided a wonderful counterpoint to Stubbs. What else has he inspired?  I will tell you…”

The Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Photo: courtesy of The Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Natasha Woollard, Head of Kensington Palace and Kew Palace, then took to the stage to charm us all with an enchanted project…

“Enchanted Palace was a radical and innovative visitor experience at Kensington Palace which took place between 2010 and 2012. The concept was that the capital project building works were shaking the stories out of the building; visitors were on a quest to discover the seven princesses who had once lived there. We worked with theatre company Wildworks to create an enchanted world in the State Apartments. The purpose was to retain visitors and income, and raise awareness of the transformed palace opening in 2012. Enchanted Palace was the most challenging visitor experience Historic Royal Palaces has ever done. Although it ended in early 2012, its legacy is still influencing our work today.”


Photo: Natasha Woollard, Head of Kensington Palace and Kew Palace

Fran Burke-Lloyd, Chair of The Kidwelly Industrial Museum, then presented the final fizzer entry which showcased an innovative way of engaging young people at the museum:

“We needed to keep the interest of the younger visitors to our museum without turning to games. What we have achieved is a story line using the history of the young children who worked in the tin plate museum. We gave a brief history of what the children once they had turned 11, had to do once at work, we shared out name tags representing family members from the past and walked through the museum having the group act out their parts in the family. One child would have the name Dai who represents the young boy who is about to start work in the tin plate works on his 11th birthday they then get to see what was expected from him. The children asked more questions and got really into the story line so much so that on more than one occasion I was asked what time they should come back to work.”


Photo: courtesy of The Kidwelly Industrial Museum

After hearing all entries, the conference audience voted and new AIM Chairman, Richard Evans, declared the winner to be Annie Macsween, Chair of Ness Historical Society, who was presented with a bottle of champagne. Thank you to all entrants this year and we look forward to hearing more innovative fizzer entries during conference in 2017 at The Historic Dockyard Chatham.

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