Adam Clarke on bringing history to life with Minecraft for Museums at Night

Our latest guest post comes from Adam Clarke, freelance artist, film maker and games-for-learning consultant. Adam describes how he got involved in the Tullie House Art Gallery Takeover, and the part Minecraft has to play in engaging new audiences with heritage and history.

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I had the opportunity to get involved in the Tullie House Art Gallery Takeover/Museums At Night project after I talked with the team about Minecraft and how it can be used to create engaging heritage and historical narratives. Excited by the possibilities this opened up, I was invited to work with the project team to create the event. Together, we set about filling the gallery space in a way that had never happened before.

Minecraft at Tully House

Visitors playing with paper craft and Minecraft at Tullie House. Photo (c) Gavin Wilson /  bangyourdrum

Using six massive interactive projections from the video game Minecraft featuring my topographical Cumbrian landscape, including a partially constructed Hadrian’s Wall, we gave people the opportunity to visit an online Minecraft world and play live with other people from around the world.

The museum archaeologist showed Roman artifacts not usually on display, giving people a chance to discover them in a new and intimate way. He also took time during the evening to build a Roman Fort and parts of Hadrian’s Wall in Minecraft with guests.

people at a screen

Minecraft in the Museum. Photo (c) Gavin Wilson / bangyourdrum

We had exclusive access to the Voxelbox server, possibly the best Minecraft creators on the planet. We were joined in person by Stephen Reid from A Higher Place, who talked about games-based learning.

We placed large glass bowls of Lego on plinths to play with, there were tables with paper-craft activities to engage in and even historical costumes for participants to get creative with dressing up and drawing. To set the ambience, there was a DJ filling the space with live mixing, and a bar.

Big screens, paper-craft, glitter, Lego, colourful lights, music, artifacts, archaeology and amazing creators all got to work to turn the museum into something truly magical, but perhaps the most magical element of all were the people who came along and completed that transformation.

People from all walks of life came together – all different ages, with different backgrounds and involvement with museums, technology, games and creative arts, including the curious few who wanted to find out what on earth it was all about – and everyone got involved. I saw people making, engaging, discovering, playing, sharing ideas and conversations, hatching plans, re-imagining familiar landscapes and finding their way around completely new spaces. Everyone was having a go, and having fun.

Artists at work

The Art Gallery Takeover. Photo (c) Gavin Wilson / bangyourdrum

I am currently developing projects using 3D printed artworks in public spaces, with a special interest in museums. Museums are traditionally about housing the intimate objects of the past. When we visit a museum, we engage in a dialogue with these objects and the people who once made them, used them or collected them. By making 3D printing accessible, museums can open up that dialogue in ways that empower the individual and community to create their own objects, their own living history and dialogues with the present, the past and the future.

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portrait-Adam Clarke

Adam Clarke is a freelance artist, film-maker and games-for-learning consultant and instructor. He has many years experience in running creative workshops for schools, museums, hospitals and within community settings, often pulling together his skills from traditional arts, digital animation/film and virtual simulations/games to deliver fun and participant led work. His is passionate about the environment, history, community participation, video games and new technology.

Thanks Adam! If you’d like to write a guest post or case study for this blog about any aspect of event planning or marketing in arts or heritage venues, please drop me a line at rosie@culture24.org.uk or call me on 01273 623336.

4 responses to “Adam Clarke on bringing history to life with Minecraft for Museums at Night

  1. @thecommonpeople @MuseumsAtNight @TullieHouse @AHigherPlaceLtd @GWilsonImages Wow Adam! Terrific, well-written, + enthusiastic, nice one 🙂

  2. Debbie Taylor

    Reblogged this on Blow Your Trumpet and commented:
    Bang Your Drum work with visual artist Mark Gibbs, acting as his agent. One of the ways in which Mark and I are collaborating is his new facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/MarkGibbsArtist.

    Earlier this year, Mark posted this message on his new FB page: “As well as an artist I’m also one of the Learning Officers at Tullie House. Working with colleagues and digital artist Adam Clarke I’m organising a Take over + Party + Digital Art event in the darkened main gallery May 16th 7pm-10 pm. It’s going to be an amazing night combining DJ and bar with drawing activities, mask making, and huge interactive projections of an alternative Cumbria which you can make using the computer game Minecraft. You can use our laptops and get help from tech-savvy volunteers or just bring your own and get building. The projections will form a light installation.” (Mark Gibbs.)

  3. Pingback: Adam Clarke: History to life with Minecraft: Museums @ Night | BANG YOUR DRUM

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