Budget Museum Hacks: 100 uses for foam board – #2 – A chalkboard

100 uses for foam board- #2 – A Chalkboard

Foam board use #1 – Flip books

This use of foam board is simple. A low-cost reusable chalkboard for adding an interactive element to your temporary exhibitions.

The chalkboard

I created this chalkboard for the extremely low budget Lost Collections of the Ancient World exhibit. One of the central objects in the exhibit was a large clay pot full of perforations, the “Mystery Vessel,” so named because we did not know the original intended purpose of this pot. So, we asked exhibit visitors to write what they thought it might be on the chalkboard. This helped add an evolving and interactive component to the exhibit.

“What do you think it is?” Chalkboard

The chalk can be removed just like from a regular board. You can of course paint chalkboard paint directly onto a wall, but the foam board ‘s light weight and portability allow it to be easily hung and re-hung in different locations throughout the museum and exhibits.

Materials: 

  • One foamboard (cut to size)
  • Chalkboard paint (you can purchase this at most hardware stores, or try making your own, it’s cheaper, and you can make it any colour you want!)
  • finishing nails
  • hammer

Step 1: Paint the foam board with an even layer of chalkboard paint

Step 2: Let it dry

Step 3: Use the finishing nails, one at each corner (plus one more along the middle of each edge – if making a large chalkboard) by gently taping in the finishing nails – this takes practice, you don’t want to hit the foam board with your hammer – It will dent!

And you’re done! 

Further suggestion: Do you want to have a full wall chalkboard without the permanency? Try painting multiple foam boards and puzzling them together on the wall.

If you have a Budget Museum Hack of your own, let me know! I would welcome guest blogs in this series 🙂

Budget Museum Hacks: 100 uses for foam board – #1 – Flipbooks

100 uses for foam board- #1 – Flipbooks

Now I don’t know if I have found 100 uses for foam board (which I have always called foam core), but I am confident that I could. I have found a lot of non-standard uses for the relatively cheap museum (small to medium sized museums anyway) staple. Traditionally these boards are used for mounting images and labels for an exhibit.

Foam board
Foam board

The title for this blog comes from a comment a former Boss of mine made about five years ago. I was working up in the north of Ontario and developing exhibits on a petty cash budget. What I did have was a good supply of foam board. Therefore, whenever I needed something I did not have and couldn’t buy cheaply (or locally); I would make it out of foam board. I made brochure holders, small display stands, and I even made a book strut once. One of the easiest and most effective uses I found is what I call a flipbook.

The Flipbook

These flipbooks, which are similar to the poster racks you can flip through in stores,  came about due to a need to display more material than I had space for. And also as a way to solve the problem of a flat 1-dimensional exhibit space. I was working with a traveling exhibit, the kind that consists primarily of images, and a few panels. Great content, but very flat in an exhibit space. I also had lots of great photos.  These flipbooks became a way of adding some dimension and interactivity without spending a lot of money.

Materials: 

  • Two foamboards (any size, as long as they are the same)
    • Use any colour you like, white is cheapest, but black is great. You can use coloured foam board as well, to add a splash of colour to an exhibit space).
  • Finishing nails
  • Ruler (A large square ruler works best)
  • Pencil
  • a hammer
  • box cutter

Step 1: Measure the exact centre of each board and draw a pencil line (this will be the back, so don’t worry about the pencil). Orient the boards either way you want.

Cut on short or long side
Cut on short or long side

Step 2: Using the ruler as a straight edge, carefully cut along your pencil line with the box cutter on each board. Being very careful only to go through the top layer of paper and about half-way into the central foam (you don’t want four pieces).

Step 3: Carefully snap the remaining portion of the foam core of each board. You now have two foam boards that fold in the centre but are held together very nicely with the remaining side. (optional step: you may want to reinforce the seam with some form of tape if your books will see a lot of wear).

Step 4: Adhere your photographs, labels, etc. to your boards as you normally would, paying attention to how they will eventually be displayed on the wall. (Remember you will have both the front and back of the free-hanging sides.

Step 5: To mount the flip books you will need a partner. Place the left-hand side of the left board against the wall in the correct position. Then hammer (or gently tap) a finishing nail into each corner – this takes practice, you don’t want to hit the foam board with your hammer – It will dent!

Step 6: Square the right side of the book up against the left and repeat step 5.

And you’re done! 

Tap finishing nails into the corners.
Tap finishing nails into the corners.

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If you have a Budget Museum Hack of your own, let me know! I would welcome guest blogs in this series 🙂

The Top 5 Reasons I Love Museums

The Top 5 Reasons why I Love Museums

1) Artefacts: Handling, Preservation and Conservation

I’m first and foremost an archaeologist, and because of this I actually think a Saturday afternoon spent cataloguing and photographing an interesting archaeological collection is great fun to be had. ;P I may be unique in this.

However, there has been a lot of talk bouncing around the museum world lately about whether a museum needs a collection to be a ‘Museum.’ Whereas, I do think there are valid examples of instances where a collection isn’t necessary; I do think that the element of authenticity found in real artefacts is unbeatable.

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Cuneiform Foundation Cone c. 2144 – 2124 B.C.E
(Part of the Lost Collections exhibit)

2) Environment: The meeting of like minded people

The Best place to find other people who like museums, art, culture, history, heritage, etc. is to work at, volunteer for, or just hang around at museums!

At the Lost Collections Opening
At the Lost Collections Opening

3) Learning: Fueling our life long curiosities

I love learning new things, and it’s almost impossible to visit a museum and not learn.

Students participating in simulated underwater archaeology dig
Students participating in simulated underwater archaeology dig

4) Heritage: Housing and interpreting our collective Cultures

Museums offer visual essays of our collective cultures (Like a real life Pinterest!). Visitors can explore a cross-section of artefacts and images that illustrate the history of a place, people, or culture. (However, It is important to note that the stories told are usually those the local populations want to be told. Museums often avoid conflict and can be used as propaganda – the latter I do not like at all.)

5) Commentary: The past can illustrate the Present and inform the future

I especially enjoy exhibitions that have a good thought out and illustrated thesis. I find these kinds of exhibitions are rare, but when they are successful, they have the power to make social commentary, offer new interpretations of past cultures and events, and can help others to understand just why the past is worth knowing.

Source
Source: http://behappy.me/shchedrina/learn-from-the-past-80481

After two years, what I have come to call “The Lost Collections,” have finally come together into an online exhibit. Many many thanks go out to my friend Krista Carson, who has helped me put all of this together.

Lost Collections of the Ancient World

The story started in January of 2011, when my friend Paige Glenen and I made an incredible discovery in storage at the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, in London, Ontario. We had found boxes and boxes of artefacts labeled as “Old World Roman.” The idea that we had a collection of Roman artefacts that we could handle and explore was exciting enough for two Classical archaeologists.

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Roman Terra Sigillata c. 200 CE

However, it soon became very apparent that there was more to the story than we had originally thought. Most of the boxes contained artefacts that were most definitely not of Roman origin, but what were they?

There were some large complete, or almost complete, pots stuffed with old yellowed newsprint. We thought it would be best to remove this acidic product to protect the artefacts (that and we wanted to look inside).  We found many more small artefacts, small pots, human figurines and two Cuneiform cones (cone-shaped baked clay pieces covered with writing known as cuneiform).

This is when we knew we really had something special.

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Cuneiform Foundation Cone                               c. 2144 – 2124 B.C.E
“For Ningirsu, Enlil’s mighty warrior,
Gudea, ruler of Lagas, made things function as they should (and) he built and restored for him his Eninnu, the Whit Thunderbird.”

Our first thought upon stumbling accross these ancient records, – ‘Are they real?’

The cones are real and the presence of cuneiform text identified the part of our collection as Mesopotamian (the region around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Modern day Iraq and Syria).

Armed with this information we were able to determine that the majority of the artefacts are of Mesopotamian origin and were found at the archaeological site of Ur (in modern southern Iraq).  The majority of the collection dates to c. 5900 – 2000 B.C.E.

The story behind the Lost Collections has proven to be unique and fascinating. I hope you take the time to explore the online exhibit and learn more about the story of the Lost Collections of the Ancient World.

Enjoy!

Two really excellent online museum exhibits

The Secret annex Online (Anne Frank Museum – Amsterdam)

This online tour through the 3D hiding place of Anne Frank, her family, and the others she was in hiding with during Hitler’s invasion of the Netherlands, uses video and sound to tell the story as you travel through the space. There are excerpts from Anne’s diary, radio broadcasts they were listening to, and interviews with those who survived the war.

Click here to visit.

This is brilliant, but very heavy – You Will Cry.

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Digital Monet: Galeries Nationales, Grand Palais, Paris

On a much lighter note, the Grand Palais, Paris’ online exhibition of Monet’s Impressionism collection is like a stroll through the park on a warm spring day.

There are two main sections to this online exhibit; the first is a more traditional slide show through the paintings in the onsite exhibit – although with an excellent level of zoom, allowing you to get much closer to the paintings then you ever would in the gallery setting. The second, which they call the ‘Journey’ is my favourite; It takes you through a series of the paintings, allowing the viewer to interact with the paintings as you travel. Works best with a webcam and microphone.

Visit Digital Monet by clicking here.

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