GLAMorous Play in a Pandemic ~ Becoming you: an incomplete guide, Small Town Queer, and Adventures in Time and Gender

The GLAM blog club theme of Play makes me think of the new Becoming you: an incomplete guide exhibition at the Immigration Museum– my first physical GLAM experience since the pandemic hit.

I spent a good two hours or so there listening to, reading and sitting with as many of the powerful and moving diverse stories reflecting on growing up as possible. 

The stories were great and I loved the use of mirrors to help people literally see themselves in the museum and the way the mirrors were often partially obscured in an attempt to illustrate the messy/incompleteness. However, the experience felt a little clinical and passive, especially given the theme of experiences of growing up and coming of age lends itself so well to something messy, experimental and playful, and I’m sure the curators had exciting pre-pandemic plans, but, of course, that’s so hard to do while being covid safe. There’s been so much work in the GLAM sector in recent times to make experiences less passive, and I know my own teaching was just starting to become less passive and more student centred and interactive when the pandemic hit. It feels like the pandemic has undone much of this work given its no longer really safe to encourage people to interact with displays or other people in the physical space.

I feel like there is potential to bring some of the messiness and playfulness online and connect the online and physical space, perhaps particularly with social media (although not limited to social media). It looks like they are doing some interesting work with school students around this Becoming you exhibition.

The following recent online queer and trans history iniatives that have come out of the pandemic may provide playful inspiration:

Small Town Queer uses almost all of my favourite interactive digital history techniques and more!   They appear to have a physical presence in their museum too and recently hosted a drag tour.

Adventures in Time and Gender
I particularly love the way they’ve used ‘wormholes’ to facilitate meandering through the past and help encourage people to dig deeper and learn more in a playful and ethical way. Perhaps the physical Immigration Museum exhibition could use QR codes to link to online wormholes as well as for covid safe tracking. (Is this finally the moment for QR codes in GLAM?!) The suitcase is also an important object (character even) in Adventures in Time and Gender and this could be such a powerful device in the Immigration Museum too.

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