Every job should involve camels and honey

It was odd to find myself at Omani passport control at 4am for the second time in a month. Frankly I am more used to East Midlands airport on bleary January mornings or the shuttle between Gatwick's north and south terminals. I was back for a second round of research visits and meetings as part ...   [more]

I'm in love with Higgs Bosun

The Collider exhibition at the Science Museum is just fabulous. And this from a woman who scraped a C in Physics and who really didn't understand much after Lesson 1: the ticker tape timer. It's a triumph of museum exhibtion interpretation which, frankly, is something you can say all too ...   [more]

Thinking inside the cube

Nottingham Castle is the castle that's not a castle. Obviously it was a castle once upon a time but now it’s more of a palace, standing high on a rock with huge views of the surrounding city and country beyond. The castle was left derelict by its owner and in 1831 it was stormed by rioters, ...   [more]

Ambition and courage

Great meeting with Tejshiv Jain from Rereeti who's just coming to the end of a month's study fellowship at Museums Galleries Scotland. She's given up her day job in Bangalore to focus on her idea of creating a new professional body for India's museum workers, aiming to build skills ...   [more]

It's all in the tone of voice

And relax... Back in Glasgow after the MA Conference in Liverpool. Two jam-packed days of talking, talking, talking and more talking - almost from the minute I got on the train in Glasgow to the minute I walked through my front door. Perhaps even in my sleep too. I was delivering a programme of ...   [more]

Mersey delights

Off to sunny Liverpool for two jam packed days at the Museums Association conference. Monday will be taken up with running four Smarter Training sessions again. Last year, the four training sessions were over-booked and I'm hoping for the same this year. The idea is to give people the chance for ...   [more]

Hello Hitchin

Hitchin and Letchworth Museums are planning to come together to create one new museum. The team from both museums are working hard on their HLF bid and decided that a day of text training would help focus their thoughts when it comes to telling stories for their target audiences. We had a full day ...   [more]

Book prize

Delighted to hear that the 26 Treasures project's lovely book won the Literature category in British Book Design and Production Awards this week. The project asked 26 writers - most of whom who don't usually write for museums - to come up with a 62 word label. The objects came from the ...   [more]

Fortune favours the brave

Coming back into museums after a decade in broadcasting, I’ve been struck by how the profession has turned away from introspection and outwards towards a deeper commitment to creative engagement and using resources imaginatively. And there was plenty of that thinking in evidence at the Museums ...   [more]

A to Z

A to Z

I went to Edwin Pickstone's studio this week to meet the master of letterpress. There were drawers upon drawers of letters in all shapes and sizes, and huge black printing presses. Came home and immediately searched to see if Glasgow School of Art do any continuing education workshops in his studio. ...   [more]

Awards awards

It's interesting when awards are given out based on a popular vote. For some people it gives the result greater credibility. For others, it somehow doesn't count as much. Whatever you think, I am sure National Museums Scotland were very chuffed to have been voted the UK's top museum ...   [more]

Words on words

I'm working towards the next Museums Association one day conference on text and text writing so I've been going back to some of my favourite books and websites which talk about writing. I found this quote which sums up the writer's challenge, “A scrupulous writer”, ...   [more]

Story of an island. Island of stories.

Story of an island. Island of stories.

I've spent some time writing and researching Britain's most remote island - St Kilda - for the community in Lewis which is planning to build a St Kilda Centre so it was really interesting to spend some time at the Blasket Centre, a few miles west of Dingle in Kerry, Ireland which tells the ...   [more]

Writing on the wall

Writing on the wall

Wandering through Dublin, I spotted these little cast iron plaques on the walls of a renovated housing estate. Each one reflected a person's life and story. It was fascinating to feel that the people behind the walls were speaking to you.   [more]

Another Eureka! moment

Another Eureka! moment

35,000 visitors in just four weeks... not bad. All About Me got off to a good start, withstanding the pressure of 3 weeks of Easter holiday mayhem. It's possibly the toughest time of year to open a new project - with a more concentrated block of visitors than over the summer holidays - but the ...   [more]

A Eureka! moment

A Eureka! moment

Last year, a speaker at the MA conference said that their exhibition wouldn't be done until the day it closed. I thought that was a great way to sum up the need to stay responsive to visitors and to build flexibility into exhibition design. So is All About Me done, now that it's finally ...   [more]

Great Map goes live

Great Map goes live

March was a wee bit busy as several projects sped towards an Easter holiday opening date. The scale and scope of the Great Map project at the National Maritime Museum certainly required creativity, attention to detail, dogged determination and a very tidy spreadsheet so we could keep track of each ...   [more]

Life on the ocean wave

Life on the ocean wave

A day training the team at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth. They are working on a fabulous new 20th century gallery, Storehouse 10, and the men in hard hats are already busy converting a beautiful dockside storehouse into a new exhibition space ready for opening in 2014. So the ...   [more]

24 hours in Jersey

Twenty four hours offshore for my first trip to Jersey. Jersey Heritage invited me over to get them thinking about how they use the written word to communicate with their audiences and how their choice of words reflects their organisational personality and values. We had a stimulating three hours ...   [more]

The art and science of writing

Off to South Kensington to deliver a bespoke training session for the team working on the Science Museum's new gallery all about the history of communication - Making Modern Communications. We wrote, talked, unpicked and analysed text - thinking about what's going to work for their project ...   [more]