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Museum Life: Yes- A Leprechaun Museum!

March 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of my Irish heritage I bring you one of the newest museums on the planet…. The National Leprechaun Museum which opened in Dublin last week.

Irish furniture maker Tom O’Rahilly founded the museum to capitalize on what has become a national symbol, albeit a negative one from the perspective of many Irish, and to explore the origins of the tales of those little people dressed in green. He shelled out millions from his own pot of gold to do so.

Becoming the size of the wee ones

According to reports visitors will enter a passage that “shrinks” them to leprechaun size. I’m having flashbacks of Disneyland when I thought riding in a little car that made me the size of cells to learn about science was the coolest thing in my 7-year-old world.

In addition, the Museum  uses 3-D illusions to recreate neolithic sites such as Newgrange and of course has its own Rainbow Room. The newsletter sign up form says it will keep you apprised of he latest leprechaun sightings. 

Whether part of ongoing folk tales, poems by Yeats, or dancing on television selling magically delicious cereal, the leprechaun is forever associated with Ireland. Some continue to fight against  such cultural stereotypes. While this may or may not fit the definition of a museum by professional standards, I applaud the attempt to use humor and education to look the image in the face rather than deny it. Given my own professional history, I also seen nothing wrong in finding new ways to engage tourists. When people take on their own history from all perspectives and invite others into the dialog, the layers of interpretation are enriched.

Now go have a green beer….

Find Out More!

The National Leprechaun Museum website http://www.leprechaunmuseum.ie/

Tom O’Rahilly’s design company Rua http://www.rua.ie/

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Museum Life: What Are They Doing in That Gallery?

March 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Lately the museum stories catching my eye are about galleries being opened to performance art of all types. Last month the Laguna Art Museum in southern California hosted roller derby girls who helped artist Jocelyn Foye create clay pieces by throwing each other into the walls. A DJ, beer and popcorn rounded out the night.

An Orange County roller girl at Laguna Art Museum

Last week the Guggenheim in New York sold out two performances by band Animal Collective in collaboration with artist Danny Perez. As described on the museum website, they set out to create a site-specific performance piece that will transform the museum’s rotunda into a kinetic, psychedelic environment. Transverse Temporal Gyrus will feature original recorded music composed specifically for the event along with video projections, costumes, and props, rendering the band members and performers into intense, visual abstractions. Visitors were invited to interact in the gallery as part of the piece. 

Animal Collective with Perez

 The Berkeley Art Museum at the University of California has a new Friday night L@TE series with performances, music and drinks which this week will include, according to BAM, a live video feed of physically challenging “actions” performed by professional dominatrix, champion submission wrestler, and local artist Jennifer Locke…. wondering if I should ask why actions is in quotations or just go see for myself?!

 Artists making art in museums and using visitors to participate in the creation is in my opinion one of the best uses of public space. While parameters are broadly designed, the experience is not directed by curators, educators or docents. It allows museum professionals to hand over galleries and get out of the way to see what happens when a unique group of people in a specific timeframe interact with whatever is around them… preferably wearing roller skates.

Find Out More! 

Laguna Art Museum http://www.lagunaartmuseum.org/ 

Guggenheim New York http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york 

BAM L@TE Friday Nights http://bampfa.berkeley.edu/about/late