I’m not exactly sure when or where it started, but I give credit to Ed Rodley at the Museum of Science in Boston for introducing me to the concept of the “Drinking about Museums” professional meet-up. What could be better than meeting up with museum folk, playing around in our galleries & exhibit spaces, sharing ideas, and topping it all off with drinks. Boston is doing it! Sydney is doing it! Denver is doing it! So it was time to get “Drinking about Museums” started up here in the Northwest — Portlandia style. And since I’m still the new kid in town, this was a great way to get outside the walls of the Portland Art Museum and meet other creative museum people. So here is my report from the inaugural “Drinking about Museums” in Portland, Oregon:
Drinking about Museums — Portlandia Edition
Who: Sparked by my new love for OMSI and their staff, we gathered together interested people from their education and exhibit design departments along with people from our education and digital collections departments at the Portland Art Museum.
The evening began at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI) in their technology lab and maker space — an area of their museum in which they are playing with new forms of creative engagement and participatory design. David Perry, OMSI’s Director of Museum Education, and Kristin Bayans, Senior Educator, both hosted the group along with many other OMSI educators and staff. We all got to know each other through some fun (aka ‘embarrassing’) activities, but mostly we played around in the learning lab space and got to chat with each other about what we do.
When you get so many creative, high-energy museum people together in one place, the ideas start flowing … and I feel that we came away from the night with tons of potential for meaningful collaboration. For me, one of the first experiments that will likely come out of this exchange is a couple MakerBot 3D printing workshops at the Portland Art Museum, allowing education staff from both institutions to play with this technology and its potential applications for an art museum.
So this brings me to the next topic of my post … MakerBots! I have been eyeing the MakerBot station at OMSI for months now, chatting with their staff and volunteers about how it is being used, why it is being used, and what are the potential ways it could be used in an art museum context (or even with artists). Kristin Bayans, who manages this innovative lab space at OMSI, has been such an amazing person to brainstorm with, and she was able to download some objects from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection to print for us yesterday. Yes, earlier this year, the Met teamed up with MakerBot to make statues, sculptures, and other three dimensional artworks from the museum’s collection available for anyone in the world to access virtually on Thingiverse.com and physically recreate with The Replicator™- MakerBot’s third-generation 3D Printer. As Jackie Terrassa, the Met’s Manager of Gallery and Studio Programs, wrote about this Hackathon event:
“… by partnering with artists and programmers who are already using these accessible technologies as creative tools, we will advance a core component of the Museum’s mission to encourage the study and development of the arts, enhancing the Met’s role as a dynamic site for creativity, inspiration, and exploration by artists and visitors alike.”
I could not agree more, and this has made me so excited to experiment with some workshops here at the Portland Art Museum around these technologies, and ensure that the museum can be a place for open creative exploration. And, besides, now I have my very own 3D-printed replica of the Met’s sculpture of Marsyas by 17th-century German sculptor Balthasar Permoser … what could be cooler than that! Obviously, there will be more discussion coming up on this site around 3D printing and museums, especially the impact this type of work might have in the teaching and learning realm of the museum. But I would encourage everyone to learn more about what the Met has been doing, and check out the objects and the 123D Catch scene files you can download to make your own replicas.
OK, so that is a quick report from Portland’s first ever “Drinking About Museums.” I look forward to opening this up to more and more museums across Portland, and exploring the way we can learn from each other as professional, as creative thinkers, and as people. Cheers!