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QRator and the Grant Museum of Zoology


Presentation by Jack Ashby, Manager of the Grant Museum of Zoology, at University College London on 31 January 2013

Presentation by Jack Ashby, Manager of the Grant Museum of Zoology, at University College London on 31 January 2013

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  • 1. QRator and the Grant Museum of Zoology Jack Ashby Manager, Grant Museum of Zoology, University College London
  • 2. The “old” Grant Museum
  • 3. The Grant Museum today
  • 4. The Grant Museum today
  • 5. We must support UCL• Provide museum expertise• Enable public access• Provide venues• Offer lower barriers to access• Raise profile
  • 6. Delivering public engagement and impact• Acting as a broker between external communities and the university.• Providing established audiences for events• Co-curation – swapping skills and knowledge• Research venue
  • 7. The challenge:• Bring the Museum into 21st century in museology and technology• Maintain our “traditional” atmosphere• Collaborate with CASA and DH• Create something visitors want• Innovate and experimentThe Solution: QRator
  • 8. Qrator is• Questions on iPads• For us – public engagement• For partners – research, including a PhD• For visitors – fun and thoughts
  • 9. QRator doesAsks questions linked to object-based displays on:•How museums operate•Science in societyIn order to•Gather opinion•Raise new ideas•Invite thought
  • 10. Potential pitfalls of community engagement• Takes place behind closed doors• Short-term• Peripheral to key strategy• Are exclusive• Don’t necessarily represent “the community”
  • 11. QRator: Social interpretation• Meaningful for three groups – Active contributors – Passive readers – The Museum• 100% of visitors are invited• Entirely visible
  • 12. QRator risks• Post-moderation / Trust• Raising tricky questions• Getting answers we don’t want to hear• Being misused• Detracting from objects
  • 13. Big challenge – different agendasWhen different partnershave different needs we hadto ensure it was the visitorexperience that stayedforefront:The visitors don’t know thatthey are in an experiment.
  • 14. Major successes• Visitors like it• 4-5 years ahead of “adoption horizon• Social interpretation at IWM• Museums and Heritage Award• Museum of Brands
  • 15. Some Visitor Studies issues• People don’t know they’ve been empowered – Do they know who is asking? – Don’t connect FoH and “museum proper”? – Lack of experience in social interactives?• People don’t converse
  • 16. Lesson learnt• Adapt! – Don’t be cross if your visitors want something you didn’t intend: it can still be of use• With partners, remember that the visitors shouldn’t suffer due to partner’s hopes
  • 17. Jack Ashby j.ashby@ucl.ac.uk www.ucl.ac.uk/museums/zoologyAcknowledgements• Claire Ross• UCL Digital Humanities• UCL CASA• UCL Public Engagement Unit