With just over a week to go until the opening of Climate Control, most of the week was spent making many, many, many (and a few more ‘many’s) preparations for this. Here are just a few.
We are very lucky to be having Dame Vivienne Westwood to open the exhibitions, along with the Universty’s President Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell. Ahead of the launch and private view on 10th May, Vivienne is going to talk with students on the topic of ‘Intellectuals Unite’. We put the tickets to attend on Event Brite and these were snapped up within two hours. We’ll review the numbers next week, and open up any remaining spaces for people to attend. Through the week I’ve worked a lot with our Marketing Officer, Alia Ullah, on press releases, lots of plans for a great launch event, and much more besides.
We have used Climate Control to build some great partnerships and relationships. Central to these is a partnership with Manchester Climate Change Agency and Tyndall Manchester, to help contribute to the aims of Manchester A Certain Future, the city’s strategy and action plan around climate change. We have been working with the amazing Arup on an animation as a taster for our exhibitions and ongoing engagement programme around climate change. The animation is looking great and will hopefully be ready for the launch. We met programmers at Arup who, like us, had got really quite obsessed with details about the features of the buildings in the animation. We’ve worked hard to make sure the information it contains is correct, drawing on historical statistics of population and carbon dioxide production.
Our exhibitions will be brought to life by volunteers and visitor services assistants. I met with a group of keen volunteers on Tuesday, to go through the aims of the exhibitions. We are interested in disrupting the narrative of hopelessness, and focusing our attentions on what people want to do and can do in their day to day lives, if they want to. This isn’t about us telling people what they should do, but giving them opportunities to share what matters to them. This is really important as we see the Museum as being one of those unusual spaces in society where people can connect with the bigger picture, and with other people. I am very far past the point of museums being about people simply looking at objects in cases, and that will be reflected in the exhibitions. More to follow on these.
On Thursday, I took part in a tour with assessors from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council for a competition on Excellence With Impact, looking at how the University has embedded impact through its activities. We are one of 10 finalists. With only a short time for a tour, we squeezed in just a few of the ways that we’ve embedded academic engagement opportunities into the Museum. These include Honorary Academic Curator and Student Curator schemes I set up a few years ago, which aim to build and recognise relationships between academic, students and the Museum. We looked at our galleries, which we have redeveloped since 2010 to better connect with our ambitions of promoting understanding between cultures and working towards a sustainable world. I spoke about the latter as we walked through Living Worlds, still my favourite gallery. We saw second year BSc Biology students giving their short ‘lightning talks’ in the Study. (A few months ago we briefed students on our projects around climate change and conservation and they researched objects in the Museum and linked them to the topics. This is one of a number of ways we have involved students in our programmes, and the talks looked absolutely fascinating. Rachel Webster, our brilliant Curator of Botany, took on most of the organising of this whole scheme.) After a whistlestop tour of the Vivarium and the space that will be our new brilliant temporary exhibition gallery, we met with students in the Rutherford Room, where Ernest Rutherford worked on atomic structure in the early 1900s.
I was also very happy to have the opportunity to meet with Dr. Hartwig Fischer, the new Director of the British Museum. He visited us on Monday to see what we do and to talk about our ongoing relationships with the BM.