This morning I walked from home to Dan’s work (2.5km, with Charlie the dog) and then sat journaling while I waited for my baker to finish work. Below is an edited version of a half hour of writing, muffin, and Diet Coke.
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I went down to the Albury LibraryMuseum during the week to have a look at their exhibition spaces (and, you know, to borrow a nerdy book – which ended up being useless). I managed to time my visit with a group of school kids (and I believe, given their fancy schmnacy uniforms, they were from a private school). My instant though was “Great. Kids. Totes gonna ruin my nerd times.” and then I mentally had to kick myself for evening thinking such thoughts, given my MA thesis research topic and general interest in museums/galleries (and especially given some recent articles I have read regarding the negative feelings towards youth in galleries). Taking a step back (mentally), I reassessed the situation: were these kids really ‘ruining’ my exhibition experience? Or was it an excellent coincidence? Clearly the gods of museum and art gallery nerdery were shining on me! It was the perfect opportunity to observe, ‘off the cuff’, youth in a cultural institution:
The exhibition with which these children (and subsequently myself) were engaging with was Frock Stars: inside Australian Fashion Week (Thursday 31 May 2012 to Sunday 24 June 2012, a traveling exhibition from the Powerhouse Museum). Girls and boys were present and actively engaged in the exhibition experience (having more of a ‘hands on’ feel to it, I can see why these kids liked this exhibition more than the ‘traditional’ looking permanent exhibition next door). Teachers and a museum staff member were on hand, presenting hands-on fashion-related activities for the class group to complete (remembering that this group were probably in year 9, so about 14 years old), including, from what I could surmise, the age-old ‘dress someone in a plastic garbage bag’ game, and designing outfits on dolls. It was (nerdily) interesting (for me, not so much the kids) to see the ALM staff-role in this setting, and I intend to follow up on their educational/children’s programming.
The exhibition lent itself to a youth-orientated audience: the theme of fashion, in conjunction with the innovative exhibition design elements (eg. backstage and fashion studio areas were simulated and given an interactive feel), is easily aimed at youth who (presumably) hold a greater interest in the fashion industry that most adults.
But I wonder why this exhibition was brought to Albury. Does Abury LibraryMuseum ordinarily have a lot of traveling exhibitions from the Powerhouse Museum? What is the appeal of the Australian Fashion Week to the general Albury public (given that you must walk through this temporary exhibition to reach the permanent exhibition)? Was the exhibition selected purely as a draw card to a new, youthful target audience?