February school vacation week has the potential to be the bogey man of a museum programming calendar. Attendance is seriously weather dependent, weather is seriously unpredictable, and in one week you can have a day with over 2,000 people one day and under 200 the next. Fortunately, despite some habitually inconvenient New England weather, we had a great week of vacation programming inspired by Beyond Human and from here to ear (the one with the live finches and the electric guitars!)
In addition to great performances and presentations by Curious Creatures, The Loon Lady, Jackson Gillman, and Steve Lechner from The Science Works, we had a lot of fun with our drop-in activities inspired by animal sounds. We made ‘sonar shakers,’ bull roarers, and bird calls, and people showed a lot of creativity in their decoration of particularly the last two!
Set up for making bird calls: we dispensed rosin from the staff supply table to prevent it from going in small mouths
Final bird calls hanging up to dry, ready for a nature walk
Painted bullroarers. Helpful tip: the shorter the string, the easier it is to make that great low buzzing noise!
If you’re interested in the directions and background information from these activities, feel free to download the pdf with everything you need! Sounds Like an Animal Activity Directions
Steven Kutcher working on a piece made by applying watercolor paint to the feet of a darkling beetle, which he directs with his finger
Original photo by Jonathan Alcorn for The Washington Post, courtesy of the artist
Check out the results of my fun conversation with Beyond Human participating artist, Steven Kutcher over on PEM’s Connected blog: Painting with Bugs.
Earlier this month, PEM launched Connected, a museum-wide blog with frequent updates from staff in all kinds of roles. My inaugural post discusses prototyping, with a few brief peeks at the kinds of work we’ve been doing with visitors as we redesign the ANC for its grand reopening on October 19. Check it out here: “Kid tested, guest approved.”
Right now we’re prototyping an interactive for Beyond Human, so I’m curious:
Bees direct other members of their hives to flowers using a ‘waggle dance’ that indicates direction and (to some extent) distance from the hive.
If you were given the opportunity to mimic this ‘waggle dance’ movement through a full-body game invitation in the gallery, would you do it? Why or why not?