Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Museum + Exhibit + Design Inspiration: Cavalry 360°


Architecture studio NEON created a site-specific installation called Cavalry 360° at the Chesters Roman Fort, in the north of England. The piece (pictured at the top of this post and in the YouTube video at the end) is a large circle in which visitors can stand and hear the simulated sound of 500 cavalry horses galloping, as a reminder of the armies stationed at Hadrian's Wall in the 2nd century. 

One thing I especially like about the sculpture is that it uses wind energy to function. Comprised of 32 wind turbines, each of which has three arms with cups to catch the wind and power hundreds of "mini beaters," to create the sound of equine hoofs in a constantly changing pattern. The beaters are arranged to mimic a "Turma," a term in Latin term that refers to a Byzantine cavalry group of 30 horses.  Visitors experience the beaters working at differing speeds as the wind rises and falls – and hear the sounds of horses galloping or trotting. 

English Heritage commissioned Cavalry 360° in the hopes that the unique kinetic piece, placed in the remarkable historic setting along Hadrian’s Wall, will be both thought-provoking and fun. It is designed to connect the viewer with the environment, to invite people to look through the work at the landscape beyond, and to pick up the sound on the wind.


Mark Nixon, who owns NEON, explained that the installation is meant to make people consider the Roman conquerors who rode over the land almost 2,000 years ago:

"This was an incredibly ambitious and challenging brief that called for a project that would retell the story of the Chester’s Cavalry in a way that would be engaging and exciting as well as drawing a new audience to the fort. The challenge of describing something that was no longer physically there, the Cavalry - and acknowledging the way the horse changed mankind’s relationship to the landscape were key to our approach for the commission. Like written fiction, we were excited to offer a half description of the subject as a means of evoking the imagination of the viewer to fill in the gaps. The horse as a creature evokes a wide range of visual and audial motifs that gave us a rich palette from which to draw on.”



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Friday, October 6, 2017

One Way to Address the Museum "Pay Problem" (TODAY!)


Although many museums and not-for-profit organizations have underpaid (and it could be argued, undervalued) their staff for years, there has been a recent flurry of online articles bemoaning this fact --- including here on the ExhibiTricks blog, at AAM's Alliance Labs blog, and at the Nonprofit: AF blog.

"Why all this sudden interest?" you may ask.  "Nobody goes into museum or non-profit work for a big payday."

That's true, to an extent, but deliberately inadequate pay contributes to the museum world's lack of diversity, and, for organizations that like to place their high-minded social credentials front and center, it is just downright demeaning and unfair to hard-working staff not to pay them a living wage.

So what to do?  (Besides the usual rationalizing and hand-wringing and pearl-clutching so common in the non-profit world?)

HERE'S MY SIMPLE SUGGESTION: Refuse to publish help wanted ads from museums and other cultural institutions that do not list clear salary ranges in their job postings, or from those organizations that offer unpaid "internships."

That's it.

Personally, if I ran the circus, I would also not accredit such organizations or let their representatives present at professional conferences, but let's start with baby steps and something simple(r) to implement.

If you'd like the museum world to start cleaning up its classified ads, and by extension its pay problem, then I urge you to email and speak with the leaders of every museum organization you know.  I've listed a few organizations and their leaders (with links to their emails) below to get you started.

You could just write something like: "As a member concerned with fair pay and diversity in the museum field, I ask you to stop accepting job ads that do not list clear pay ranges or ads for unpaid internships."  (Feel free to cut-and-paste this text directly into your own email.)

I am disheartened that we are losing emerging and diverse members of the museum profession because of poor pay and bogus unpaid work situations.  So let's stop hiding and rationalizing and start doing something.  I've just sent emails to everyone listed below, won't you join me?


PLEASE EMAIL THESE MUSEUM LEADERS

American Alliance of Museums (AAM):  Laura Lott

Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC): Gillian Thomas

Association of Children's Museums (ACM): Laura Huerta Migus

American Association for State and Local History (AASLH): John Dichtl

New England Museum Association (NEMA): Dan Yaeger


Editor's Update: The New York City Museum Educator's Roundtable (NYCMER) is active on this front and does not need to be encouraged via emails.  Also the website museum.jobs now requires that all postings list salary ranges.



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P.S. If you receive ExhibiTricks via email (or Facebook or LinkedIn) you will need to click HERE to go to the main ExhibiTricks page to make comments or view multimedia features (like videos!)