Saturday, April 26, 2014

What's Your Dream Project?

One of my favorite questions, either for people I've interviewed for this blog, or for people I meet in "real life" is a variation of the "what would you do if you won the lottery" game.

Most non-museum people I ask that question of usually respond with a travel-related quest to some exotic locale.

But when I ask museum people, If money were no object, what would your dream museum project be? the answers are a lot more varied.  

Here are a few of my favorite responses from the ExhibiTricks "interview vault" (if you click on folks' names you'll also be directed to their interview...)

Beck TenchI'd give anyone who wanted one, a heart rate monitor to wear for a month. I'd build technology that would autostream the data to a website where they could see their heart rate in the context of everyone else participating.  I'd also build in the ability to geo-locate where people's heart rate rises and falls.  And we'd ping folks with questions about their mood and whether or not they feel they belong. We'd assign them random tasks like doing good deeds or taking small risks.  We'd ping them when rates spiked to find out what was happening.  I'd also buy a big laser projector and project a visualization of the heart rates of the participants across the sky on a cloudy night or on the side of a tall building.

I wore a heart rate monitor for a few days in a row once and was surprised to learn that mine lowers when I'm in a stressful confrontation. I also discovered a crush I didn't know I had!  I think the participants would learn a lot about themselves and the researchers would have more data than they knew what to do with (a personal mission of mine currently).

Jason Jay Stevens:   I'd like to cast a set of giant ceramic upright bells.

For centuries, the Chinese used hand bells to measure the volume of dry goods in the marketplace; there were strict regulations for the making of the bells and particular notes represented particular quantities. I love this overt correspondence between two seemingly disparate things: sound and quantity. So each of my giant bells would correspond to a particular standard volume ("one cubic meter," "one hundred bottles of beer," "boot space in a 1954 VW Beetle"). We can call the exhibit "The Well-Tempered Volume."

Is money really no object? The bells would be mounted on gimbal yokes of solid oak, installed beneath a great pavilion, surrounded by gardens organized in a taxonomic maze, and full of sonorous sculptures activated by wind and water.

Really really no object? I would like to make a second set of these bells and install it in the Antarctic. Wouldn't it be nice to know there is a set of giant upright bells on the bottom of the world?!

Erika Kiessner: I would love to do a science exhibition about a city, embedded in the city landscape. I imagine walk-up exhibits on street corners and points of interest that draw your attention to something in the vicinity and give a science-based explanation for it. From architecture to wind patterns, local flora to material properties, there are elements of a city that are easy to take for granted even if there are fascinating explanations for them.

For example, in Toronto one of the big downtown office buildings has a cantilevered portion that suspends 13 stories over the sidewalk. An exhibit there might draw an area on the ground with the statement “Standing here there are XX thousand pounds of concrete suspended above you!” Then an explanation about how the building is constructed to support the structure overhead.

Dan SpockI’ve got tons of them in reserve, but the most impractical one I’ve always wanted to do is a combination museum and resort hotel where you’d get to live, sleep and eat in the museum. It would have guest rooms, lounges, restaurants, a pool, a bar, a day spa, all of which are a part of game-like exhibits you can party in around the clock with other guests. The museum could be about anything, but maybe it would be about a journey of self-realization. Something about the choices you make in life and where they lead you, a place where you can experiment with alternative paths and identities you’d never dare take in real life. Know anybody who’d like to fund it?

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And what about YOUR dream project?  Let us know about it in the "Comments" section below!

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