Museum in a Box puts museum collections and expert knowledge into your hands, wherever you are in the world.
Our working design question is “How can we update the classic museum loan box for the internet age, and how might that improve understanding and engagement with museums?”
We’re prototyping towards an answer that’s a genuine, tactile mix of replica objects and contextual content direct from museum curators and educators.
Museum in a Box Ltd. is a registered company, No. 09849074.
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What is it?
The ‘Box’ is a themed collection of objects – 3D prints, postcards, documents, maps and the like, anything you can pick up and touch – that arrives at your door in a nice package, ready to amaze, educate and entertain.
Each Box also contains a Brain that knows what the Box contains. Boxes come pre-loaded with content like object descriptions, mood-setting contextual media like music from the same period, or even documentary video. Initial pre-loaded content can also be supplemented with new content from the web if and when there are updates to send.
Museum in a Box creates a ‘live’ link with an institution through a physical interaction, allowing museums to share their latest news and discoveries with classrooms around the world, and for students to create their own responses to objects through a recorder in the box.
The Brain also notes whenever an object is “booped” on the Brain, creating a history of use that’s never existed before. Museums will know which objects are interesting through this “boop log” that records when objects are used.
Why are we doing this?
Something like 5% of museum objects are on public display at any one time, and then, they’re normally only described by a small wall label.
People who look after large collections of historical artefacts often don’t have the onsite floorspace to publicly display even a fraction of these objects. For example, the gigantic British Museum has only 1% of its collection on display.
In the UK, the Museums Association is urging London based museums to get more of their collections out of storage and on display as funding cuts will mean fewer landmark exhibitions.
It’s actually fairly straightforward to digitise a 3D object (once you have it out of its box). Quite a few national level institutions are putting a lot of investment into 3D digitisation, like More and more institutions are carrying out or developing mass digitisation projects, like the Smithsonian Institution, British Library, British Museum, and the UK National History Museum.
We offer training to teach you how you can do this yourself.
Putting objects in context
Information around objects can be pretty thin on museum websites. Museums often know a great deal more about their collections than can be communicated on a web page or even in an exhibition. We’re excited to bring a wealth of context and background to the museum experience, to help learners really explore an object’s history and place in the world.
Cater for new audiences
As museums continue to find new audiences online, there’s an opportunity to use these new communication platforms often enable new conversations about historical objects, instead of a static one way feed of information. We want to be a part of that.
Less screens, more to touch
One of our design goals is to make Museum in a Box work without a screen, even though it’s built on a digital core. We’re interested in exploring the benefits of tangible interaction in the classroom, and how touching objects can help people develop a stronger connection to them.