Twin Cities Holla

Hello from St. Paul, MN! I am visiting the twin cities for a museum conference. AAM, specifically (American Association of Museums). Along with a number of other things, my job is to create interactive experiences for museum exhibits. This is one of the most fun things about my job. It’s working with educational content to create engaging, meaningful audience experiences, and if the visitor can take part of it home with them, all the better.

The conference has several sessions that focus on issues unique to the museum industry. It’s really amazing to hear what all of the country’s museums are accomplishing both on their own and with partners. I’m learning yet another set of meanings for words like “design” and “develop” that contradict or skirt the meanings from other industries.

Admittedly my favorite session so far has been The Moth storytellers. It was after the keynote yesterday and Rudy Rush hosted as three storytellers spun their yarns. As one of my favorite podcasts, it was so amazing to see it live. These storytellers are truly gifted performers, and they lead the most interesting lives!

Last night my boss, Ken, and I went to a party at the Minnesota History Museum. The structure, modeled after a fort, was enormous and beautiful. It was flanked by the state capital and St. Paul’s cathedral, both of which are impressive silhouettes. The theme of the party was “Beer, Burlesque, and Babe” after several of the state’s original offerings. They gave away these precious, tiny glasses that you could fill with sample beer from several of the state’s local breweries. They also had “Underwear that’s fun to wear” displayed in most interesting ways, along with a burlesque show to cap off the evening. And finally, they had Paul Bunyan (this enormous man in plaid with a giant ax) walking around and taking pictures with people. Oh, and seasonal food on every level of the museum. It was a really fun party, everyone was in great spirits, and there was plenty to see and do. What an impressive museum.

One of the best parts of the night was talking to the team of graduate students who are prototyping a new exhibit on the Aris development platform. The experience utilizes mobile technology and trackable physical interactives to collect data and analyze how kids learn. It is embracing the principle that video games are onto something, and seeks to take advantage of that model and enhance it by getting kids engaged in the physical world around them (tangible objects and other people). So cool!

I asked if they were also developing the system’s UI by analyzing the collected data, and they haven’t quite gotten to that part yet. David, the director of the Aris program, phrased it nicely when he said they “haven’t reached the stage at which the experience becomes elegant.” Or something along those lines. The word elegant was used. It really sums up an intuitive UI and beautiful skin nicely. He asked if we ever had time to donate to the project. Hmmmm…..

Now on to another fun day of sessions and networking!

PS – the food has been pretty good so far! Newsroom is worth a stop. Brit’s pub apparently has long bowling on the roof. That is a must.

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Twin Cities Holla

Bang Bang

One of our stops in Nashville included the Antique Archeology store from the History Channel show, American Pickers.

While the store ended up being more of a t-shirt shop than an antiques store, they did have Jack White’s old photo booth that he traded to them on the show. It can be yours for $5,500.

Next door to the shop was a great little candy maker called the Bang Candy Company. They specialize in handmade marshmallows with exotic flavors and flavoring syrups. We got a couple of mallows in blueberry with milk chocolate and lavender with dark chocolate, along with a couple of cups of hot chocolate. And an awesome t-shirt featuring a couple of six-shooters.

Bang Bang

I Was Crafty Before Crafty Was Cool

Just like being a geek has earned a certain amount of street cred (awesome Geek infographic by Mashable), being crafty is now the hotness. From felting to felties, embroidery, knitting, paper crafts, polymer clay and even metal clay jewelry, there are many creative outlets that don’t involve a brush or paint.

One of the really fun ways craft is being modernly interpreted is through urban art (often stealthy, unauthorized installations in the dead of night). I passed a tree on my way into work this morning that had been enrobed in a pink knitted sleeve overnight. “Urban Knitting” is a (somewhat controversial) joy to see in person.

Urban Knitting can occur anywhere! Image Credit: Fubiz via crookedbrains.net

Continue reading “I Was Crafty Before Crafty Was Cool”

I Was Crafty Before Crafty Was Cool

Swoon.

I love books. I always have. In design school, when we had to choose a business to rebrand, I chose an indie bookstore in the Pacific Northwest called Atticus Books that I found online. It was a beautiful package, with antiqued art nouveau influences and famous quotes scrawled across velum layers.

My book love is something I inherited from my parents. They took me to yard sales, flea markets and library sales and rummaged through boxes of books right along with me (my sister, who is now a doctor, sat in the car and sulked). It’s not only the amazing worlds presented, voices of the characters and authors, the information contained…it’s the feel of them. The beautiful covers, the paper choices, the typographic decisions. Nothing makes me more comforted than sitting in a big squishy chair surrounded by stacks and shelves of books. That’s one reason Dr. Bombay’s appealed to me so much.

So given this crush I have on books, I was drawn to the Borders going-out-of-business sale like the proverbial Atticus moth is drawn to a pyre of burning books. I was just going to peak inside, see what kind of selection was left. An hour later I had a stack of books that were at least 40% off the original price. First it was the bargain books (mini sketch books, a Dresden hardback, and an unknown that looks interesting), marked down even more than usual. Then I thought about the graphic novel section (Mouse Guard!), knowing it’s often hard to justify their retail price. And then, oh Lord, I found the craft section.

Continue reading “Swoon.”

Swoon.

A Romp on the Farm

After dining at The Hil, we decided to tour the farm yard at Serenbe. I had toured the grounds before, but never made it over to the inn or the farm.

It was a treat to see the different critters they had, including rabbits, chickens, goats, and a very friendly pot-bellied pig. Though the chickens had little bald hind-ends. My guess is overcrowding.

There were several quaint, and working, rabbit houses and chicken pens.

One could easily make a day trip out of a visit to Serenbe. Brunch at The Hil, hit up the farmers market and shops, tour the gallery, pet some animals at the farm, and finish the day at the community-style Farm House restaurant. Happy adventuring!

A Romp on the Farm