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SNIBSTON: "Oh no there isn't"! "Oh yes there is"!

Discussion in 'Everything else Heritage' started by oddsocks, Jul 8, 2014.

  1. Spamcan81

    Spamcan81 Nat Pres stalwart

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    Or IWM and RAF Museum plus their outstations.
     
  2. flaman

    flaman Well-Known Member

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    I know what you mean, but isn't that rather a broad analysis? The national museums are generally excellent and as they have access to the pick of the cream of exhibits, so they should be! Those run by local authorities are much more patchy. I can think of examples of the latter, besides Snibston, that have been expensive failures and I struggle to think of a local authority-run museum that I would travel any distance to see.
     
  3. andykeithharris

    andykeithharris New Member

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    Although surprising given what much of Bradford is like, I was very pleasantly surprised by both the Bradford Industrial Museum, Moorside Mills, Bradford, and Bolling Hall, Bowling Hall Road, Bradford, both are completely at odds with their surroundings, but very much worth a visit

    Andy
     
  4. Johnb

    Johnb Part of the furniture

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    The NRM is part of the Science Museum not run by the local authority but even there things could have been better presented. They inherited a former steam shed and then went on to convert it to something resembling a B&Q warehouse and the with the new proposed frontage it could be confused with the local ASDA Store. I've never been to the National Gallery
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
  5. Platform 3

    Platform 3 Member

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    There are some wonderful local authority run museums in Stoke. The City Museums in both Liverpool and Birmingham are exceptional and many people do travel considerable distances for them.
     
  6. ragl

    ragl Well-Known Member

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  7. Platform 3

    Platform 3 Member

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    The NRM is a museum run by politicians and bureaucrats, just like local authority museums. You have made very sweeping generalisations based on the architecture of one museum and the placing of a locomotive in another.
     
  8. Johnb

    Johnb Part of the furniture

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    Nothing to do with the architecture in Glasgow but again with the way the exhibits have been stuffed and mounted and dumbing down of the factual information presented to the visitor.
     
  9. Platform 3

    Platform 3 Member

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    But that is all personal preference and can be seen anywhere. Personally I like both museums that you don't like, and think the presentation of the locomotives in Glasgow is rather enjoyable.
     
  10. Anthony Coulls

    Anthony Coulls Well-Known Member

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    Each of the big exhibits has a large flat screen interactive with images, film, extra information, drawings and text, some 20,000 words per display in total, a lot more like a big iPad or similar - much more than a simple display panel - how is that dumbing down?

    [​IMG]
     
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  11. flaman

    flaman Well-Known Member

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    The basic problems at Snibston were those that it shared with quite a few museums, both local authority and privately/voluntarily run- the lack of a unique selling point, a core subject that is already catered for better elsewhere and over-reliance on non-genuine "interactive" features.

    Possibly the best example of this was the Transperience museum at Bradford. This developed from a very adequate bus museum, housed in a former bus garage, which was popular but judged by the local authority, egged on by museum professionals, as boring. "Let's build something completely new, incorporating all forms of transport, state of the art interactive educational facilities...... " and so on. It was a total flop, closed within three years of opening and lost over (some say well over) £1 million.

    It's not a situation unique to LA run museums, there have been quite a few in the private/voluntary sector who have similarly come unstuck. From hard personal experience, the important thing is for people to be able to easily identify what your museum is about- when we started, we had visions of being a railway and farming museum, but soon found that whilst most people had an interest in historical railways, relatively few had the same interest in farming history. We originally called ourselves "Mangapps Farm Railway Museum" and although we dropped "Farm" from title in 2001 (at the time of the Foot & Mouth crisis) we still can't get rid of it! Small things like that matter; we came to realise that, to our core market of railway enthusiasts, "farm railway" mean't a few bits of rotting junk in the bushes behind a barn!

    The "interactive" thing can also be a pitfall. I know of a small, privately owned and run, military museum. It has a couple of plinthed tanks and a missile, but otherwise consists entirely of a huge collection of cased, but very well presented, smaller exhibits. It's not at all what the professional museum community favour- no interactive displays, no smart lighting or videos- but it works. On the other hand, a nearby volunteer run set-up, built around a stationary steam pumping engine, tries to present all kinds of "power". It struggles.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2016
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  12. Johnb

    Johnb Part of the furniture

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    Nothing wrong with the information screens but I felt the information given, and I am talking about the railway exhibits, was a bit superficial which is what I meant by dumbing down. This educational aspect is something that the NRM does well. The locomotives were also not exhibited in a railway environment which left me with the feeling that the whole thing was set up by those who know nothing about transport history. A criticism that cannot be levelled at the NRM.
     
  13. Johnb

    Johnb Part of the furniture

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    I hope dropping the farm from the name hasn't meant the loss of the old harrow in the field by the curve or the old blue Fordson tractor, they added interest to my pictures of the J15 (I'll upload some on here when I get round to scanning them).
    I think, from a customer point of view, it's value for money that counts. Is the presentation good and how long does the place hold my interest. I've been to Mangapps twice, once on Geoff's J15 charter and a second time to look at the extensive small relics, some of which I think the NRM would die for and I could do with going again. Just a pity it's on the edge of the world in Essex and not anywhere I pass on my way to somewhere else. The interactive videos and all the buttons to press are great for the kids to play with but does the average visitor go away any more knowledgable?
     
  14. flaman

    flaman Well-Known Member

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    The Fordson actually belongs to my neighbour, who was driving it during the photo charter. We can still do interesting displays of farm machinery, but we no longer have it on permanent display.

    "edge of the world in Essex"? For goodness sake, it's only 40 miles from central London! Anyway, thanks for the kind words, you and all NP members are always very welcome.

    As to interactive displays and videos, after over 25 years of running a museum and closely observing others, I have no doubt that what visitors want to see is real things, not replicas and graphics, however state of the art. Among the most frequent questions that I get asked are "How old is that?" "Is that really original?" and "Did they really use that?" The issue of age and originality seems particularly important to the young.

    I well remember going on school trips to the Science Museum. Even in those far-off days many exhibits were "interactive", in that you could press a button and, with luck, the exhibit, usually a model, would spring into life. We tore around, pressing buttons right, left and centre, but did we learn anything from that? Of course not. It was the real exhibits that got us going, and in some cases (including mine) influenced our future careers.
     
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  15. Johnb

    Johnb Part of the furniture

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    Sorry if I gave offence by the edge of the world comment it was meant as a sort of a complement in that the museum is obviously successful despite not being able to entice any passing trade by being near a through route. If you go any further you fall into the English Channel!
     
  16. flaman

    flaman Well-Known Member

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    No offence taken:).

    Not the English Channel, it's the German Ocean, a.k.a. the North Sea:eek:!
     
  17. Avonside1563

    Avonside1563 Active Member

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    We really should be grateful for the way many of our museums and heritage centres are presented.

    Having spent a couple of weeks touring New Zealand and looking at lots of 'museums' the overwhelming feeling was that Kiwi's don't quite get heritage. Plenty of places had loads of potential but were full of empty promises, such as Shantytown at Greymouth where, if it was for the steam presence on the railway, I would have been extremely disappointed. The 'town' full of buildings held very little apart from a frontage and some average displays of memorabilia. And it wasn't the only place I came across this, there was a Toy and Transport museum which had so much stuffed into the hangars you just couldn't get to see half of it, and no attempt to help the visitor interpret it or display it in a logical manner. Mainly hundreds of cars of varying vintage tightly packed in amongst some airplanes and lorries! At first I put this down to the shorter history of the European influence in the Islands, but soon realised that it wasn't just that. We are very well provided for in the UK and have a much better appreciation for our heritage and how to present it than many other parts of the world. If it was a case of hundreds of indiscriminate cars jammed in a building or a selected representation with plenty of room to view them and some information about them I know which I would prefer.

    As regards dumbing down, did you feel that the non railway exhibits at Glasgow were dumbed down or was it that you felt the railway items were dumbed down because you had some previous knowledge of these items and wanted more detail? It can be difficult for a regional museum to display large relics, such as railway items, in a suitable environment due to space constraints and balancing it with the other exhibits. Were the road vehicles displayed in a highway environment? Did they have lots of water around the ships? Plenty of museums suffer with these difficulties yet manage to give the visitor a brief insight into a part of our heritage they may not have considered before and, hopefully, encourage them to find out more for themselves.
     
  18. Johnb

    Johnb Part of the furniture

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    Two things about the whole place, apart from the street scene,which was quite good the presentation was poor. Take the collection of motor cycles on shelves floor to ceiling, more like a dealers showroom than a museum, the same with some of the historic cars. Can someone tell me what that circular thing in the ceiling with all the bicycles is all about? No doubt designed by someone with an art degree who is very proud of their creation but meaningless in a museum. The railway locomotives were tucked in a corner behind a strange arty exhibit made up of various bits of vehicles painted up hippy style, I couldn't really see what it was doing in a museum, more suited to the Tate Modern. One locomotive was on the first floor with the smokebox poking throught the wall! Just putting the railway and tram exhibits on a length of ballasted track would have at least given some railway atmosphere, better still with length of platform and maybe a half relief station building.

    The information screens seemed to give basic and sometimes not very accurate information, for example I cannot remember anything mentioned about the Jones Goods being the first British 4-6-0 or any details of how the single drivers evolved and why No 123 was built so late (steam sanding)

    Overall my impression was of the place being designed by those who have no appreciation of the subject matter
     
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  19. simon

    simon Resident of Nat Pres

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    People go to museums for a variety of reasons. From taking the children somewhere to try and stop them being bored on a wet day through to wanting to see a specific exhibit, and all points in between.

    My wife and I went to the Glasgow museum in the summer and, not unnaturally, there were gaps between what appealed to her and what appealed to me. So in some areas, I might have liked to have seen more info, whereas she was content with what she read, but in other areas the situation might have been reversed.

    As a result they are after different amounts of information required by users and in the end its not really possible to provide all the information the the "specialist" visitor is after. In any event, now in the world of instant mobile access to the internet, it is perfectly possible for those to want to know more to do research before, after or even during the visit. In fact that's exactly what I did.

    The same applies to, say, National Trust properties or places such as RHS Wisley. So on our visit to the Tenement flat, we had already read up on the subject before we got there.
     
  20. DJH

    DJH Active Member

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