You’ll need your smartphone to fully experience Newcastle’s Museum latest exhibition 1×4. More than just a selection of random items on display, these items have been carefully chosen.
This exhibition features 23 interesting items from the Newcastle Museum collection personally selected by curator David Hampton. A Commodore computer, a lace gown, stone axe, Sunbeam mixmaster and a pigeon trophy are just some of the fascinating objects to read about.
These items are displayed prominently in the Newcastle Story section of the museum and have four distinct stories attached to each of them. Hence the name 1×4. If you’re looking for a sign next to the object, you’re out of luck. Instead of reading interpretative signs on the wall, you use your phone or tablet to select the item and then read four short blurbs about the piece.
The exhibition explains that objects can tell multiple stories from many points of view. But who chooses the story? Which story is the truth? Normally, museum curators choose an interpretation but 1X4 turns this upside down. Instead, there are four stories related to an item.
Using the lace gown as an example, the first story explains it was worn by Margaret Bartlett who wore it to the opening of the Sydney Opera House in October 1973. The second story mentions it was designed by John Robinson. Originally a pharmaceutical salesman, a catastrophic car accident in the 1950s, led to a career change. He opened up a clothes shop with his sister and later became involved in designing and creating dresses.
The third explanation relates to the dress. Its beadwork was handsewn by a Russian woman who had worked for the Queen’s official dressmaker. And the final story explains the popularity of sequins inspired by the discovery of gold sequined robes in the tomb of the ancient Egyptian King Tutankhamun in 1922.
It’s a great activity for families. The descriptions for each item are short and succinct and easy for kids to read.
Point out items from yesteryear like the old Commodore computer. They might have trouble realising it’s a forerunner to their laptops and tablets.
Give kids your phone or bring a tablet and let them explore the different items that they spot. Bring headphones as they can also listen to the four interpretations instead of reading them as well as listen to a song that relates to an item.
The music choices ranges from classical to contemporary. For the grand orrery (a mechanical model that replicates the orbit of the planets of our solar system around the sun), the musical track is a rendition of “Mars” performed by BBC Proms. For the gown pictured above, it’s “Fashion”by David Bowie.
If you don’t have time to read the stories at the museum on your phone, you can reference the website later at home by clicking on the website again.
1×4 is a free exhibition at Newcastle Museum and runs until 31 May 2021. For more information, visit the 1×4 website. Newcastle Museum is open from 10m – 5pm on Tuesday to Sunday and open 7 days during NSW School Holidays.
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