We’re Museum in a Box, and we love museums.
🦠🦠🦠 We’re still working. Our shop is open.
While we continue to sell our Make Your Own kits, we’re also working to develop resources that we can offer to families now stuck at home because of COVID-19. We have a dedicated #educators channel on our public Slack that anyone can join, if you’d like to join in to discuss this work, or hear about new resources.
Stay at home! Wash your hands!
Museums are the vaults of the world that represent us and our histories. They are deeply human constructs, and we love them.
But, not everyone can visit a museum, and even if you can visit, you might only see about 5% of the collection, and even then, chances are you can’t touch anything, and you interact through glass and esoteric wall labels. It’s difficult. We want to make it easy, by sharing objects outside the museum.
Our mission is to help museums increase to their collections, and connect people through shared histories.
We make a Box.
At the centre of our world lies the Box. It’s a small, friendly, internet-connected, Raspberry Pi-powered thing, and has speakers inside. When you place a museum object on it, an audio response will play.
It’s simple, versatile, and portable. So simple in fact before too long you’ll realise this flexibility lets you fill the Box with any story you can think of.
And, those stories take the form of a Collection. That’s what we call the set of 3D prints or postcards you use to explore those stories. Each object has a little metal (NFC) sticker attached, and the Box recognises that to play its story.
Any Box can play any Collection, too. (That’s the long term idea of Museum in a Box; that Collections can travel the world, to play on any Box in the network.)
You can have a Box!
We can also help you with training in the various aspects of creating a collection, like 3D Modelling or a Training Day to get you started with Make Your Own.
Who else has a Box?
We’ve worked with organisations all over the world, from Bloomington to KwaZulu-Natal. Our anchor partner is the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and we’ve worked some other biggies like the V&A, British Museum, and Historic Royal Palaces.
Educators are seeing the potential of Museum in a Box to help students learn, and develop their creativity. Using object-based learning projects, students can develop their 21st Century skills, and progress through the Bloom’s Taxonomy framework, where students grow from remembering through to synthesis in their studies.
Our Educator Make Your Own kit is our most popular product, and comes with a growing library of “Getting Started” guides, for primary, secondary and adult learners.
Every continent except Antarctica?
(And we’d like to keep it that way, unless a nice scientist down there would like one.)
This is our approximate distribution of Boxes in March 2020:
Another bonus is that the Box can speak any language. So far, we have stories told in Swedish, Japanese, isiZulu, Spanish, French, English, a variety of North American Frog, and more. It’s also great for students to translate their collections so they’re bilingual.
How long has this all taken??!?
We established the company in October 2015, and transformed into a Community Interest Company in 2019 (UK Company Number 09849074).
Highlights from our history include:
- The idea was born at a residency at Somerset House called The Small Museum, in March
- We incorporated in October, working out of Hans Sloane’s old house in Bloomsbury
- Our first commission, “Big Stuff from the British Museum”, in April
- Hired Charlie! Yeah!
- Our first branded hardware, the progress bar Printed Circuit Board (PCB)
- Tom’s lovely The Planets prototype pops out over a weekend
- Early design thinking about a Box that can listen as well as speak
- Flirting with the Raspberry Pi Foundation commences; press!
- We connect with educational concepts of 21st Century Skills and object-based learning
- Tom escapes the fracas to join Sketchfab
- Gill Wildman coins the phrase “brainraising” to celebrate our first joint box-making session, which Adrian, Tom, Charlie, George, Gill, Dan, and Fiona all worked on to make five Boxes (!)
- R&D on Make Your Own begins
- First great outreach commission with Camden Council; lots of kids, lots to learn
- Major commission with the Smithsonian Institution, including research trip to DC, to hand-deliver Boxes to Title 1 schools (and meet the kids)
- Moved to Hoxton, in Shoreditch, out the back of the National Circus School (we’ll tell you about that at the pub one day)
- Part of the spring cohort of the Young Foundation Accelerator
- A collaboration between British Museum and National Museum of Iraq results in a Box in Baghdad that speaks Arabic
- Declared V1 of the Box’s “skull” design (that’s the outer shell)
- Successful Crowdfunder raises £20k for the company, our only outside investment
- Made our biggest run yet, 80 Boxes
- Initiated self-funded product R&D phase, to research Make Your Own, with 40 international pilots
- Build the concept of “admin cards”, objects in each Box that can help you configure it, using the same UI as the Collection objects
- Our Make Your Own pilot proceeds, as we send out Boxes in Jan/Feb, and get updates from pilots about their Collections, being made around the world
- The first ever boop made entirely by somebody who doesn’t work here happened in Spain. This was a huge milestone, because it meant that the Make Your Own idea could work
- Incredible Amagugu Ethu / Our Treasures commission with Dr. Laura Gibson takes us to South Africa
- First dementia-oriented Collection is developed with the Monroe County History Center in the USA, for their Living with History program The hardware that drives the whole shebang is looking super sweet, including our annotated PCB
- Opened our online shop in November, selling Make Your Own kits (which people are buying!)
- Completed development of our on-demand small-batch manufacturing process, with a 2,000% productivity increase since we made our first Box
- Abira Hussein joins our Advisory Board
- This year is already looking a bit crazy! More on that soon. Keep an eye on the blog?