April 13-17, 2010
Denver, Colorado, USA

Demonstrations: Description

On-site digital learning programs at the British Museum and the V&A

Shelley Mannion, The British Museum, United Kingdom
Lorna O'Brien, Victoria & Albert Museum, United Kingdom

The past two years have seen the launch of new digital learning centers at large UK museums. The British Museum partnered with Samsung Electronics to transform an existing ICT classroom into the Samsung Digital Discovery Centre. At the V&A, a well-equipped Digital Studio forms part of the Sackler Centre for Arts Education. Along with a similar initiative at the Museum of London, the centers are exploring the role of museums as ICT learning spaces that complement other technology training venues available in local communities and schools.

The Samsung Digital Discovery Centre focuses exclusively on young people and families. During the week it offers ICT-based educational sessions for schools that highlight specific culture areas from the museum's collection. Children produce digital artwork, films and music using cameras, laptops, mobile computers and a green screen. On weekends, a varied menu of activities for families is available including photography trails, Photoshop mosaics, comic making, podcasting and stop-frame animation. Special events, such as the Mexican Day of the Dead celebration, have included dress-up skeleton art with Photoshop and the projection of digital graffiti, Twitter and Flickr streams onto museum walls.

The V&A Sackler Centre's Digital Studio targets families, adults and young people, offering large scale drop-in events for families, and workshops and courses for adults and young people aged 11 - 19. Activities for adults and young people include skills sessions; film making; digital music; workshops and courses using digital photography with Photoshop to create designs for craft products relating to the museum collections. Family events cater for an average of 200 visitors per day and offer activities including digital photography in the galleries; creating designs for T-shirts and badges; animation; specially commissioned interactive applications relating to temporary exhibitions.

The learning program for the recent V&A exhibition Decode included activities such as arduino electronics, design for virtual worlds, openFrameworks and Processing courses, and a big Digital Design Festival Weekend. The exhibition microsite invited visitors to recode the digital identity created by Karsten Schmidt who also ran a recoding workshop as part of the Festival.

Results of the Festival as well as activities, applications and artwork produced in both centers will be available to view. We are happy to answer questions about our experiences and learned from the hands-on running of digital programs in a museum context.

Demonstration: Demonstrations - III [Close Up]

Keywords: digital, learning, programmes, onsite, activities