gold bug

So, this week we wanted to highlight an artist and work that may not be new to many art museum readers but certainly might be new to some science and history museum people and probably also to many designers out there. The work is called The Golden Roach Project by the artist Miklos Kiss.




Miklos places these in museums around the world, as he states about roaches: “It is found anywhere in the World, considered everywhere as a pest and a source of infections, and exterminated anywhere possible. Opposite to this, the roaches in my creations go through multiple changes. Walking into the culture’s holy space, they turn to gold in the museums, which represent art, and this pushes the question of art. At this point the action is made classic and contemporary at the same time. The smuggling effect is “roachy” and reflects a contemporary approach, while in materials and workmanship it recalls of classic art pieces.”



He encourages others to take these roaches or buy them, and while almost all are just gold-plated plastic, one is actually pure gold. In addition, people can post images of their roach in various places and, if the citation is tagged correctly, it can go up his website.

Miklos draws attention to how this idea of smuggling could also be considered in reverse – “This should bring the attention to a reverse situation, where an effective and valuable object will be smuggled in on the way in to the museum.”




Here at the studio, we are loving several aspects of this whole concept – making something precious by its material and where it’s places, the sort of “treasure” aspect of the one gold roach, and the interactivity with the viewers in a medium where physical interactivity is not often seen.

It makes us wonder how some of these concepts could be exported and adapted to have visitors in other types of museums create an interactive and dynamic social expression physically. How might this idea be adapted for a science center? A zoo?

What do you think? What does this concept inspire you to want to try?!




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Real Time Experiences

Some ideas reappear over and over again in exhibition design. One recurring theme is the idea of displaying information or events in real time. Instances we’ve discussed in the past include aircraft in the sky, internet traffic, cars on the NJ turnpike, and many other element of modern life. Now, it’s even possible to track some of these on your cell phone.

This week we wanted to point out a couple of examples we’ve recently run across that might interest anyone trying to provide visitors an understanding of how we are using communication technology today.

The first is a piece call Pirate Cinema, produced by Nicolas Maigret and Brendan Howell.



In this piece, viewers are treated to a cinematic montage of media segments being shared in peer-to-peer networks through BitTorrent. It provides a real-time sneak peek at an activity taking place throughout and across the world that is fundamentally changing many industries and even changing societies as a whole.

The second examples is the website Tweetping by Franck Ernewein.



Check it out!

Here, one can watch the world of Twitter just wash by across the planet. It can be mesmerizing to see subjects and topics sweep across the globe. These experiences seem to capture a live display of the state of the planet, and they share some important points that might be relevant to exhibition planning and design:

First, they are real. Here are digital media experiences showing real phenomena or technology. They are about real data.

One could argue, too, that these show real phenomena in the same way that, say, a pendulum exhibit demonstrates an actual physics phenomenon.

The second important point is that these experiences makes the hidden, the unseen visible in a dynamic way – and, in these cases, in ways that allow us to look back at ourselves.

Exhibits that explore the hidden parts of being human are always fascinating.

What new ideas do these examples spark for you?

One interesting idea might be to have an exhibition where all of the experiences provide a similar kind of living pulse of our planet.

What would you want to see in such an exhibition?


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Evolving Experiences

Tinkering Studio – Exploratorium 

In today’s designed world we are surrounded by or immersed in spaces and experiences that have been carefully thought out to the nth degree. An example that we are all familiar with are the “lands” and “kingdoms” one finds in the Disney parks or Universal theme park. In these instances often we enjoy these experiences as we look to be transported to a fictional world and are accepting of this conceit. It is a non-reality that is authentic.

But in our designed world we also find ourselves in real places – coffee shops, exhibitions, restaurants, stores that also attempt to set a place, a location, a time that are special – but often we are struck that these feel fake, inauthentic and we leave dissatisfied. Why?

These thoughts came to mind when recently Colin Raney IDEO commented at the SEGD conference in New York that:

Ever evolving experiences provide authenticity and engagement.

It struck a chord that this phrase may cover many of the most recent experience trends in science centers and museums as well as some of the most popular.

Take for example the rise of Tinkering or “Making” spaces – whether it be Maker’s Faire or Tinkering studio space in museums.  While certainly there are learning impacts that these spaces provide they also seem to be places that people enjoy and find “real.”  Certainly these are spaces whose outcome and experiences are always evolving and changing.

Lab spaces like those at the Science Museum of Minnesota or those that ALCHMEY studio has had experience with at Liberty Science Center and the Tech Museum

Infection Connection Lab – Liberty Science Center

are also popular and once again these spaces change and evolve and have the ability to evolve and adapt.

There are other spaces such as these that include merging social media/exhibit spaces and art/science galleries like the Science Gallery in Dublin that come to mind as spaces or experiences that evolve. Additionally spaces that engage the natural world and its constantly changing nature also evolve over time. Parks, sculpture gardens and pieces such as the Neukom Vivarium at the Seattle Museum of Art’s Olympic Sculpture Park.

are examples.

Neukom Vivarium - Olympic Sculpture Park

This leaves some open questions that are worth exploring

-          Can we study and evaluate what experiences are deemed more “authentic.” What makes them so?

-          Do they attract more engagement? Do they have more impact?

-          How about creating a “measurement” of how much an experience can evolve?

If you are interested in joining with ALCHEMY studio in exploring these let us know. Meanwhile we would love to hear of examples you feel match this idea.

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