Monday, November 19, 2018

Happy Tapes-giving!


As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving here in the United States, one thing I am always happy for as an exhibit developer and prototyper is TAPE!

Tape is one of those handy things that you often use but rarely think about.

So here's a listing of a variety of specialty tapes for your creative design toolbox.  Just click on the title link above each tape description to go to a web page to purchase that tape or for more information.


HAPPY TAPES-GIVING!


3M SOLAS Tape
"SOLAS" stands for "Safety Of Life At Sea" and it is super-durable reflective tape that was designed originally to be used by the Coast Guard. It's strong. It's shiny. What more could you want? It may also be useful outside your exhibit pursuits on bikes, backpacks, or cars.


Gaffer's Tape
If you think duct tape is useful, try Gaffer's tape. You can think of Gaffer's Tape as duct tape without the sticky residue. It's the standard tape in the film and theater worlds. Best of all, the adhesive is designed to not rip off paint. You can leave Gaffer's tape stuck to a wall for days, and then remove it without tearing up the wall surface or leaving sticky gunk behind.


Blue Painter's Tape

The "blue masking tape" is great because it doesn't mar or mess up walls.  Great for painting/masking of course, but also super when putting together large paper or cardboard prototypes that need to interface with walls, floors, or windows.



Vypar X-Treme Tape

X-treme tape is a non-adhesive, self-bonding wrap. It's not really "tape" since it's not sticky. But it really grips and wraps around wet stuff or slimy stuff --- think water exhibits, hoses, bubble exhibits, etc. Once it's in place -- it is NOT coming off! You just pull on the tape and it fuses to itself under tension. As a bonus, it comes in a range of colors as well. 



Here are two variations on good old reliable duct tape:

Gorilla Tape
Gorilla Tape is like regular duct tape on steroids. Sure, it's much stickier, but it also adheres to uneven/rough surfaces.


Clear Duct Tape
From the creative minds of 3M comes "clear "duct tape! It is less noticeable than standard duct tape, but more importantly, 3M claims it lasts 6 times longer than the standard variety, having been engineered for extreme temperatures and UV exposure.



Vet Wrap

A "self-clinging" wrapping material that does not require tight compression.


Instant-bonding Glue Dots
Adhesive "dots" that require no drying time, are clean and easy to use and work on a variety of materials. Glue Dots bond instantly to any surface.


Terrifically Tacky Tape
This is double-sided craft tape with red liner that is super strong. (The bond actually increases after the first 24 hours it is applied.)  This is the same kind of ultra-thin, very sticky tape as "3M 4910 VHB Tape" but TT tape comes in shorter-length rolls so it is less expensive.


3M Dual Lock Reclosable Fastener System
Clear self-mating reclosable fastener with clear acrylic adhesive on the back. This is the "mushroom" topped style, rather than hook and loop, so it fastens to itself and doesn't collect fuzz like the "hook" half of velcro.


Colored Plastic Vinyl Floor Marking Tape
Great for outlining areas on floors or walls.  These tapes come from Identi-Tape and are highly adhesive and resistant to water, oil, fungus, and chemicals, have a semi-gloss finish and can be written on with permanent markers.


1/4"-wide Colored Plastic Vinyl Tape
Also from Identi-Tape, these 6-mil vinyl adhesive tapes are available in a 14 colors plus clear in 36-yard long rolls. These tapes are ideal for constructing lines and tables on dry erase boards, identification of small tools, decorative striping, etc.


Hugo's Amazing Tape
The cool thing about Hugo's Amazing Tape is that it only sticks to itself.  This makes it great for things that need to be wrapped and re-wrapped, or opened and closed, on a regular basis.  Hugo's tape can also be used as a temporary clamp or stabilizer for irregularly-shaped materials as well.


And that wraps up this post about tape!  Do you have any favorite tapes that we've missed here? Leave us the info in the Comments Section below!




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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Labor Pains: The 2018 NEMA Conference and the Museum World's Ongoing Wages and Workers Challenges


A labor dispute happening during the recent New England Museum Association (NEMA) Conference illustrates the Museum World's ongoing challenges with workers and wages.

Despite the fact that representatives of Unite Here Local 217 requested that all NEMA Conference attendees honor a boycott and daily picket lines against the Stamford Hilton by not entering the hotel, over 90% of the approximately 900 conference registrants entered the hotel to attend sessions and events.

A small number of NEMA Conference attendees chose to honor the boycott and picket lines by not entering the Hilton and by holding their sessions offsite at either the Local 217 Union Hall, The Bruce Museum, or Franklin Street Works, a local not-for-profit art space. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, almost all of those offsite sessions had a social justice focus, and almost all of those offsite presenters honoring the Hilton boycott were women, people of color, or members of the LGBTQ+ communities.)

Certainly, the decisions that everyone made regarding how to participate (or whether to participate at all) in the NEMA Conference were their own, but museum people being museum people, there was some furious parsing of union and labor terminology and some pretzel logic going on to justify some of those decisions -- which you can rehash for yourself by checking out the #NEMA2018 hashtag on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

[And now for context, a short union terminology sidebar, speaking from my perspective as someone who grew up in Detroit in a union household and in an extended family of union members, including my immigrant grandfather who was fighting with his coworkers against Henry Ford's goons to help start the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.

To boycott an establishment (like the Stamford Hilton) means to withdraw from commercial or social relations with an organization as a punishment or protest.  There doesn't need to be a "strike" a "labor action" or even an active "dispute" or "demonstration."  Union 217 asked all NEMA Conference attendees to boycott the Hilton by canceling their room reservations, and/or by not entering the hotel as a show of support and solidarity.

Picketing is a form of protest in which people congregate outside a place of work or location where an event is taking place. Often, this is done in an attempt to dissuade others from going in, but it can also be done to draw public attention to a cause. Again this can be independent of any formal "strike" or specific "labor action." In this case, Union 217 held daily picket lines outside the Stamford Hilton to urge people not to enter or patronize the hotel.
If you wait 10 minutes after a picket line stops to enter a place of business, or if you look for a side or rear entrance because a picket line is only at the front door, you "technically" did not cross the picket line, but you are also "technically" acting like a weasel.  A picket line serves the same purpose as a boycott in the sense that it is an ongoing request for support and solidarity, whether a picket line completely encircles a building and every entrance 24 hours a day or not. ]





What happened during the 2018 NEMA Conference may be an isolated incident, but it is also reflective of ongoing challenges related to wages and workers in the museum and not-for-profit worlds and how museum workers and museum organizations need to "walk the walk" not just "talk the talk."

Salary transparency is an example of one small way to increase awareness and equity for museum workers. While many national museum organizations like the Association of Children's Museums (ACM) and the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) along with numerous regional, state, and local museum organizations have required that salary ranges be part of every job posting, some other museum organizations (including NEMA) have chosen not to honor this simple requirement asked for by members, including some of their own board members.  (You can find out more about the campaign for museum salary transparency at the National Emerging Museum Professionals Network's website.)


If we want fair pay and better working conditions for ALL workers, including museum workers, and if we want to make museums welcoming places for ALL people, not just a small subset of our communities, how will we ACT when given the chance to show support and solidarity for those ideals? 



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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Impressions of MuseumNext NYC 2018


I attended my first MuseumNext Conference that just happened in Manhattan.  MuseumNext often bills itself with the tagline "The Future of Museums" and while this NYC edition had a decidedly digital bent, I was pleased to discover that not everything in the museum world's future appears to be digital.

First, a few general impressions before I highlight a few specific sessions that struck me.

MuseumNext NYC had a relatively small number of participants (around 300) although they hailed from 15 different countries in addition to attendees from North America.  The presentation format is TED style, so all MuseumNext attendees see the same presentations all together in rapid succession (there is a lunch break and a short afternoon coffee break, but otherwise the sessions move right along.)

While this format has benefits, as an attendee if you don't like a presentation you are stuck -- there are no other concurrent sessions to jump to.  And this was a problem for me during the 2-day conference because several presentations were more "sales pitch" than sharing of expertise and experiences.  That's fine, and to be expected, in the case of MuseumNext sponsors who were given the stage, but it felt a little slimy in the case of the other presentations.

My other quibble with the MuseumNext NYC schedule was that there was not enough time for socializing and networking.  I would have appreciated the opportunity to spend a bit more time with more of the very interesting attendees!


Below are some takeaways and impressions of some MuseumNext NYC presentations that particularly appealed to me. (You can find many of the MuseumNext presentations and slides here.)

Hannah Fox from the Derby Museums in the UK led off the first day of presentations by sharing the approaches that bring the Derby Museums and programs such acclaim.  I was particularly struck by how often the word "prototype" came up in Hannah's presentation! The Derby Museums try out everything with their visitors and community partners.  I also appreciated how often Derby's cross-disciplinary teams pushed back on the “it would just be better if I did it myself” approach.




Laura Flusche from the Museum Of Design Atlanta (MODA) explained how she and her staff create a "maker museum" that constantly uses design thinking and "radical friendliness" to incorporate visitor feedback into their process. In a simple equation, Craft + Activism = Craftivism at MODA. So, letting visitors create at MODA to express their stories. (I also loved the corridor of pool noodles from the “Designing Playful Cities” Exhibition!)



Christian Rohner from the Museum of Communication in Berne, Switzerland explained how their museum re-allocated budget to switch from volunteers and part-time “communicators” to all permanent staff and how the redesign of the MoC made sure every object was coupled with a human story.



(I also loved how children could follow a graphic "squirrel story" without words to experience the Museum of Communication.)



Victoria Travers from the Auckland Museum explained how the museum staff used Facebook as a means for collecting objects from current events (like the worldwide Women's Marches following Donald Trump's election.) The Auckland Museum also did a lot of prototyping and shifting of exhibit experiences based on visitor feedback. (In the picture below, the upper left image shows how staff thought visitors in Auckland would use a feedback experience, and the other images show how visitors took over the whole feedback experience and space!)





One of my favorite quotes on Day 1 came from the engaging presenter Liat Rosenthal, curator of Uniqlo Tate Lates (evening events at the Tate Modern.) She and her colleagues think about a museum as "a university with a playground attached."



Day 2 at MuseumNext NYC 2018 featured two very different, but equally strong, digital museum experiences:

ReBlink at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) used Augmented Reality (AR) technology to help visitors engage more deeply with a small selection of paintings from the permanent collection. Working with creative company Impossible Things, the AGO was able to create deeper visitor engagement by introducing modern images and ideas into classical artworks. (Evaluation shows that visitors shifted from spending two seconds (on average) with AGO paintings to 4-9 minutes with ReBlink paintings.) Here's a video teaser of ReBlink (below or on Vimeo)




The folks from Impossible Things also gave a pop-up demo of ReBlink during the lunch break.



Ann Neumann from the MIT Museum shared the lessons learned from the development of the immersive Virtual Reality (VR) project, "The Enemy" developed with Camera Lucida. By juxtaposing the stories of combatants from conflicts around the world the MIT Museum asks whether VR can be a tool to expand our moral imaginations?




Of course, after learning about two wonderful app-based projects, JiaJia Fei from the Jewish Museum in NYC gave a wonderfully contrarian and compelling argument against apps in museums! Basically, visitors to the Jewish Museum access web-served audio guides once they connect to the museum’s free WiFi — no downloads or apps. (A major limitation of the use of apps in museums is the minuscule percentage of visitors who actually are willing to download an app onto their devices.)


One of my other favorite presentations from Day 2 came from Tim Powell of the Historic Royal Palaces (HRP) in the UK. Tim shared several of the exciting ways that HRP are using an R&D approach through collaboration with artists, and by gaining audience input from the start.



I'll end my impressions of MuseumNext NYC 2018 with this image of Rolf Coppens from Grrr creative agency in Amsterdam. I think the qualities of pushing boundaries, working together, being demanding, and keeping users first were certainly captured in many of the presentations (and my takeaways) from the conference. MuseumNext was definitely not a typical museum conference, and I would encourage ExhibiTricks readers to check out a future edition near you if the opportunity arises.




You can check out additional impressions of MuseumNext NYC 2018 by searching for the hashtag #MuseumNext on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


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