Frank vs App

 I mentioned in my last post that there's an App  for the new Ancient World's exhibition at Manchester Museum so here's my friend Natalie and I trying it out.

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Using the museum wifi you can download their new app on your smartphone.

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Along with each exhibit there is a unique combination of Pheonician codes. By "unlocking" the extra info yourself  you only need access the extra info on things you are particularly interested in. 

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I liked this idea of using the symbols, simple but brilliantly in keeping with the exhibition (although as Nat was scrolling through I kept wanting to shout "Get the crystal, GET THE CRYSTAL")

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As well as accessing image galleries and info on the objects (how they were discovered, uses etc) there were also audio commentaries. It was interesting to have a multi sensory experience but this kind of thing could be used for those with visual impairments too. Blown up details and videos of modern guides were shown on brightly lit screens as well, so you didn't need a smart phone to for all of the shiny new technology on offer.

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I liked the vibrancy the screens and interaction added to the museum. I think it would make the place more inviting for a lot of people and there was definitely a feeling of making it relevant to today but with a spirit of adventure and discovery being able to find things out for yourself.

I think there are some good possibilities with the apps as they could be kept up to date with new info so you could potentially revisit the exhibition but get a new experience and learn more as you go along. (new discoveries, news, techniques on how they were made, links to current events going on in the museum etc).

But much as I like clever and cool, I am also a HUGE fan of WISDOM AND WONDER. And for me you an only get that by learning from a real person who has a deep interest they want to share.

Cue Frank...

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I was really happy to see the museum's hand's on section with some fab objects to find out about and even  (carefully!) handle. Frank is a volunteer at the museum and his enthusiasm was infectious as he answered our questions and taught us about the pieces on the table. I asked how long he had been interested in finding out about history through objects and he said always, when he was a small boy he would sit in the coal shed with a little hammer smashing the black lumps to find fossils.  Viva the Urban Palaeontologist! 

When I quizzed Frank on his fave object at the museum the winner was this mysterious white fragment and it was very exciting when he told us why...

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In a true Antiques Roadshow "Turner in the loft" kind of thing, this piece had been buried in a box of stored objects since it was donated in the 1930s by a German Archaeologist. It was unearthed 10 weeks ago during the prep for the new exhibition. There was no quick look on wiki for this, but by researching in "proper old books" to find images to photocopy like the one Frank's holding of Rameses II it shows the object to be a finial on a chariot used to tie the reins to keep hands free (for fighting with a massive sword or maybe I think eating a nice sandwich* "on the hoof"). 

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*or ancient Egyptian carb equivalent

It is the ONLY piece in the museum with a Pharaoh's name on it. The stylised Dead Duck and Snake you can see -apart from sounding like a jolly nice pub are actually the hieroglyphics for "live in fear of". It also states that he was away fighting at the time. And we got to hold it! Erm just please keep it over the cushioned table. It is very old. Sorry!

For more cool stuff on museums going digital check out culture hack here. To learn more about the objects with a brill volunteers like Frank check out events on the museum website here or just get in and visit. It's free!