Interactives concept creation, design, build and installation
Timeline: 6 months
Client: University of St Andrews
Aim: We were contracted to design and build the interactive elements of the MUSA galleries. We began working with the team when the museum was just an idea and we worked with them right through to the install of the exhibits. Three years on, we're still working with the team to upgrade exhibits and add new features.
What we did: Kaleidscopes: Almost synonomous with St Andrews, FifeX built a 5 and 3 mirror kaleidoscope exhibit, each with interchanageable 'cassettes' that hold different materials, letting users experience difference patterns as they twist the kaleidoscope.Stereoscopic Viewer: A modern replica of a 'traditional' taxiphote. Sitting alongside the real one, it gives users the opportunity of some authentic stereo images, the old fashioned way! One small concession to modernisation was the addition of an internal light which makes the images easier to see. We would like to thank the Stereoscopic Society for their help in making this exhibit.Feely Boxes: FifeX's take on this classic interactive, the Feely Boxes are part of an activity table and contain some interesting items inside!Maces Jigsaw: The aim was to create a wall-mounted puzzle based around three of the University's maces. The puzzles are all the same size and with the same shaped pieces, so not only do users have to work through the normal jigsaw process of matching pieces with their neighbours, but in these puzzles, they also have to decide to which puzzle each piece belongs. It is actually quite tricky!Digital Stereoscope: A modern take on the original stereoscope idea. Two monitors using 50/50 glass and polarising glasses create mind-blowing 3D images.Memory Bank: This exhibit has its own page
Testimonial: "In 2008 the University of St Andrews Museum Collections Unit worked with FifeX to develop a range of interactives - both high-tech and low-tech - for the gallery spaces in a new University museum - MUSA (Museum of the University of St Andrews) which opened in September 2008 in St Andrews. FifeX helped in each phase of the project and provided valuable input to the concept creation. They successfully turned our initial ideas into inter-active activities and exhibits which have been very popular with our visitors."
"MUSA aims to tell the story of Scotland's oldest University through a remarkable collection of artefacts and stories which illustrate its history, personalities and teaching practices. MUSA contains four themed galleries, a Learning Loft and a Viewing Terrace."
"The vision for MUSA has always included the concept of discovery and including inter-actives goes a long way to helping us achieve this - especially to encourage families to discover the collections together. After producing a brief for the inter-actives we worked closely with Fifex to consider the design of each inter-active station. Six bespoke designs were created and installed across the 4 galleries."
"Together we considered the learning outcomes for each gallery, the key objects on display, links to school curriculum topics and the restrictions or opportunities posed by the physical design of the gallery spaces. In gallery 1 a wall mounted magnetic jigsaw encourages visitors to examine the famous medieval maces closely. In gallery 2 a unique 'Memory Bank' offers visitors the opportunity to leave their own memory of the University and the town of St Andrews, and to listen to those of other people. The scientific stations in gallery 3 allow visitors to build their own kaleidoscope and examine 3D photography through both a modern interpretation and a replica of an original stereoscope. Gallery 4 contains an activity table with feely boxes, a microscopic viewer and an archaeology puzzle."
"We have found that the inter-actives really encourage visitors of all types - and in particular families and children - to engage with the objects on display, learn more about them and to make discoveries of their own through activity and play. To date about 17,000 visitors have visited MUSA - and the feedback we have received indicates that the interactives created by FifeX are a very important factor in engaging visitors' attention, encouraging learning and, importantly, providing fun and entertainment. FifeX were really easy to work with - taking on board our ideas and requirements and making useful suggestions - and we would recommend them to any museum like us who require interactives."
Emma Jane McAdam, Curator, Operations & Projects
External Link to Project Website: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/musa/
External Link to Client's Website: http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk