Monday, February 2, 2015

Lego Pompeii

Lego Pompeii creates less pomp and more yay in the museum

Lego Pompeii creates less pomp and more yay in the museum

The Forum of Pompeii recreated in Lego. Craig Barker/Nicholson Museum
Lego Pompeii was painstakingly recreated from more than 190,000 individual blocks across 470 hours for Sydney University’s Nicholson Museum – it’s the largest model of the ancient city ever constructed out of Lego blocks. There is a mix of ancient and modern elements within the model’s narrative; displaying Pompeii as it was at the moment of destruction by the volcano Vesuvius in 79AD, as it was when rediscovered in the 1700s, and as it is today.
The historical model is the exhibition centrepiece in an archaeological museum where, until recently, displays of Lego would have been unthinkable.
The Nicholson Museum, with collections of artefacts from the Mediterranean region, Egypt and the Middle East, is a place where visitors can expect to see Greek vases, Egyptian sculpture and ceramic sherds from Jericho.
Yet since 2012, the museum has commissioned professional Lego builder Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught to recreate three ancient sites made from Lego. Together these models represent an interesting experiment; attracting a new audience to the museum space and demonstrating the importance of fun in a museum context.
Ryan McNaught with his creation Lego Pompeii. Craig Barker/Nicholson Museum

The Brickman’s historical constructions

The first Nicholson Lego scale model was a replica of the Colosseum in Rome.
The joy of the model was its ability to contrast the old with the new. Half the model featured the amphitheatre in antiquity; the other half featured the building in ruins with Lego modern tourists.
The model proved such a success it subsequently toured several regional NSW galleries and museums. It is currently displayed at the Albury Regional Art Gallery along with Roman artefacts from the Nicholson Museum’s collection.
The second model, opened in 2013, was the Lego Acropolis, which featured buildings of ancient Athens peopled with historical Greek figures. It is now displayed at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.
The Lego Acropolis. Phil Rogers/Nicholson Museum
McNaught’s latest and most ambitious construction, Lego Pompeii, as with previous creations, also sits firmly at the centre of the museum’s educational aspirations.
The study of the cities of Vesuvius is central to the Higher School Certificate (HSC) Ancient History syllabus, with more than 13,000 students annually sitting HSC exams with questions on the archaeological site.
Likewise the city forms the basis of undergraduate courses on Roman history. The model provides a means of introducing students to issues of Roman daily life, architecture and the history of the excavations in a visual way, different from their classroom experience.
Educators can explore with their students features of the ancient city such as bakeries and bars, temples and marketplaces or they can examine the modern history of excavating pointing out archaeologists such as Fiorelli, Spinazzola or Maiuri all of whom are replicated along with modern investigators.
Lego Pompeii. Craig Barker/Nicholson Museum
The legacy of Pompeii in popular culture is also depicted: from Bulwer-Lytton’s famous novel The Last Days of Pompeii (1834) to more recent Hollywood movies, such as Pompeii (2014). All are topics in the school syllabus and are depicted in Lego in order to stimulate both discussion and entertainment.

The genuine article debate

The Nicholson Museum is not the only museum to have used Lego and other “non-traditional” materials for displays. The Museum of Sydney’s current exhibition Towers of Tomorrowfeatures Lego models of iconic buildings.
These and other international exhibitions such as Hampton Roads Naval Museum in he US with its program of Lego shipbuilding, form part of a much larger debate within the museum sector about how to excite audiences and the use of “non-traditional” displays is gaining popularity.
The use of a popular medium such as Lego enabled the museum to present the ancient world in a way that captures new audiences who may not necessarily be museum-goers and ensure that fun is a central component of the museum visit.
From personal experience I have seen children engrossed in the Lego display, but then actually spend far longer exploring the collection as a whole. Education and entertainment need not be mutually exclusive in a museum.
In recent times, there has been much debate on museum visitor engagement and reassessment of the concept that museums must be exclusively reserved for the “real” or the “genuine”.
Lego Pompeii. Craig Barker/Nicholson Museum
I argue that the idea of a museum of exclusively “genuine” material is a relatively recent invention. Since the 18th century European museums have been filled with corkboard models of Classical architecture. There were even precedents for Lego Pompeii: Sir John Soane’s House in London has a cork model of Pompeii, while the famous 1:100 model of the city in the National Museum of Naples has been wowing visitors since the 1870s.
Plaster casts of classical sculpture were popular in collections in an era when international travel was expensive and reproduction images (either photography or illustrations) were rare.
Natural history museums and war memorials used diorama models in the early part of the 20th century. Modelling and reproductions were designed to take visitors on a journey of discovery. But by the late 20th century, models were often removed from display and sold off.
The Nicholson Museum gave most of its plaster casts of sculpture to schools in the 1960s, highlighting the thinking of the era which saw copies as suitable for education, but museums were to be reserved for genuine historical material only.
This mindset has changed again over the past decade as museums have become central to educational philosophy again. Subsequently, a number of European museums who retained their collection of casts, such as the Museum of Classical Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, and the recently revamped plaster cast courts at the V&A, are now seeing increases in popularity as the artistic, historic and aesthetic value of the casts are reassessed by a modern audience.
The use of Lego in a museum context is a 21st-century continuity of this much older tradition of displaying interpretive models. Lego Pompeii and other models of this ilk are a fun and engaging tool for reaching audiences in an exciting new way.

The Lego Pompeii exhibition at the Nicholson Museum runs until December 31, 2015.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Startup Professionals Musings: Agility Is The Key To Survival In Good Times And Bad

Startup Professionals Musings: Agility Is The Key To Survival In Good Times And Bad

Agility Is The Key To Survival In Good Times And Bad

business-agility-petMost small businesses are trying to forget the recent recession, and get back to “business as usual.” They don’t realize that business as usual is gone forever. With social media and smart phone conversations, real product information spreads at astounding speeds. Entrepreneurs that are not listening, not engaging, and not changing will be left behind even in the best of times.

Business agility is defined as the ability to adapt rapidly and cost efficiently. It is required today for new innovation strategies, analyzing markets for new opportunities, and organizational changes. Today’s customers are much more proactive in going online for the latest information, rather than simply reacting to the “push” messages that businesses traditionally use to drive commerce.

According to a recent survey conducted by Dimensional Research for Zendesk, 90 percent of respondents asserted that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions, and 86 percent admitted buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews. Yet there is evidence that as many as half of the small businesses out there still don’t even have a website or go online.

If you as an entrepreneur are not “listening” to your online reviews, and not moving quickly to make changes, you are losing ground. Moving forward, you should expect the market volatility to increase, driven not only by customers, but by new technology, changing government regulations, and a surge in new competitors.

For a business, volatile markets are a source of great opportunities, as well as great risks. Every entrepreneur must be alert enough to spot the change early, and agile enough to adapt quickly. Here are some key elements of agility that are required for you to survive and prosper:

  • Stamp out organizational inflexibility. Bureaucracy can appear quickly in startups as well as large companies. The real problem is inflexible people. Every organization must constantly review its hiring practices, training, and leadership to make sure the focus is on people who are motivated, open-minded, and empowered.
  • Continually watch for new opportunities. Don’t wait for your competitors to uncover new markets that you wish you had jumped into early. An agile business doesn’t wait for their current product line to fail, before planning some enhancements. The days of the “cash cow” are gone. Make sure you have a process in place to find your next big thing.
  • Rotate team members into new roles. If a key person in your organization has never changed roles, that person is likely limiting their personal growth, as well as the growth of your business. Maybe it’s time to find the real strength of your team by giving top performers additional new responsibilities, and rotating the lower performers out.
  • Define a continuous innovation culture. Innovation doesn’t happen without active leadership, a mindset of commitment from the team, and a defined process. Discipline is required to continually track results, return on investment, and customer satisfaction. Let your continuous innovation become your sustainable competitive advantage.
  • Foster a performance culture, and avoid analysis paralysis. A strategy of speedy execution is required. If you organization routinely thinks in terms of months or years to make any change, it’s falling behind and probably already obsolete. Don’t wait for expensive outside consultants to tell you it’s time to change, or make it happen.
  • Practice small change experiments often. The “big bang” theory of change, where innovations only come through huge and expensive new projects, with big rollouts, is a thing of the past. New innovations should be seen as experiments, which are inexpensive, measurable, quick to fail, and without retribution if they don’t work.
  • It all starts with agile leadership. If you are the entrepreneur, or the top executive, you set the model and the tone of your business. You can’t have an agile business without effective communication, an empowered team, and a constant influx of new ideas. Managing an agile business means managing change, not solidifying a status quo.
Business agility is simply to ability and intent to make small changes, on a daily basis, to penetrate new markets, add new revenue streams, reduce costs, and prune out products that are no longer carrying their weight. All you need to win with customers is to be slightly more visible and have a few more evangelists in the marketplace.

It’s time to take a hard look at your own business. Is it pulling ahead, or falling behind? Standing still in not an option.

Martin Zwilling

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Entrepreneurs – Have You Got What It Takes To Succeed? |

Entrepreneurs – Have You Got What It Takes To Succeed? |



You’ve got a great idea, you are pretty sure that what you have will sell, you’ve even got some cash together. What else do you need?
Vision: You must be able to see where you are going and what the future will hold. See what others are not able to see and build your business on these visions.
Courage: The ability to act upon your vision despite having doubts. The readiness to give up job security and a planned future for the chance of making a success with your new business. This takes courage.
Strategizing: Having the courage to act upon your vision, you now need to build your strategies. You will need a business and a marketing strategy. These are the formulas that you will use to drive forward and manage your business.
Entrepreneurs_Have_You_Got_What_It_Takes_To_Succeed
Planning Skills: To ensure that you reach your vision, you need copious amounts of planning. Planning how you will reach your targets, how you will meet new changes and challenges and how you will improve your business. You will need a business plan and a marketing plan.
Researching: Having decided what your business is going to be, then you will need to find out who will want to buy from your business and at what price. This takes a fair amount of researching.
Conceptualizing: Knowing what you want to sell and to whom, you now need to define your products and services. Brainstorm different things that you associate with your company. Include everything, good and bad, until you are out of ideas. Keep in mind that ideas generate ideas. Write everything down, this is how you move your company forward. Use this period to design your products, what you want your company to look like and how you want it to be perceived by your customers.
Creativity: You will need the ability to think outside of the box. Keep ahead of your competitors by coming up with new, unusual and unique concepts and solutions to their needs. You will need to create marketing materials, packaging and sales pitches – all will need verbal and visual creativity.
Determination: Along the way you will come across many hurdles and set backs, you will need to dig deep, make your changes and keep going. Determination and the belief in your visions and plans will keep you on the road to success.
Humour: When all the world seems against you and all seems to be going wrong, when your customers seem to be your worst enemy then you need a sense of humour to carry you forward.
Lastly good luck!
By  Martin   Brown

Monday, December 15, 2014

What did ancient Babylonian songs sound like? Something like this

What did ancient Babylonian songs sound like? Something like this



What really lasts in this world? What dies, what can be revived? Are humans basically the same now as in ancient times?
I was left pondering these questions after listening to singer and composer Stef Conner's album The Flood. It's probably the first ever to be sung in ancient Sumerian and Babylonian, and it's hauntingly beautiful.
One concrete answer to the first question: clay. Clay lasts.
andy-lowings-lyre

Monday, November 3, 2014

Gen Con Art Show and Other news.

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Gen Con 2014: Level Up!
Art Show Submissions to Open November 10
As previously announced, Gen Con 2015 Art Show has made some changes in its application process this year due to unprecedented demand, and will accept applicants through a juried process. Any artist interested in applying in the 2015 Art Show, regardless of how many years they have exhibited at the Gen Con Art Show in the past or their professional status, will need to submit an entry to be reviewed by an anonymous jury.
Submissions will open Monday, November 10, 2014 and will close Wednesday, November 19, 2014. There will be a $25 non-refundable submission fee.
Artists interested in learning more can click herethe submission link will appear on that page next Monday, as well.   
 
Gen Con at World Championship Weekend

Are you going to Fantasy Flight Games' World Championship Weekend, November 6-9? Gen Con will be there!

A Gen Con representative will be on-site during the event in Roseville, Minnesota throughout the weekend. They will give away Gen Con prizes, including some promo passes to Gen Con 2015! Just look for the person in the Gen Con Staff shirt.

Can't make the show? You can check out Fantasy Flight Games' Twitch Stream 
here, and see World Champions crowned in some of Fantasy Flight Games most popular titles.
 
Post Show Survey: Part 2
Thank you to all those that have taken Part 2 of the Gen Con 2014 Survey. Haven't had a chance to take the survey yet? There is still time.

You can take it by clicking 
here. Gen Con will distribute four Gen Con 2015 promo passes to randomly selected survey participants. Respondent information will not be shared publicly. Thank you for your participation! 
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