At Museum in a Box, we believe that creativity is as important as numeracy and literacy for kids, and that learning about the world's cultures and our histories is one of the best ways to explore your creative side. We've updated the old idea of a museum handling collection, where museums would send out a box of objects for kids in school to think with. Using replica 3D or 2D objects, NFC technology, and a Raspberry Pi-powered Box, we can make the objects come alive and tell a great story, play music, trigger archival audio footage, or replay you a first person account from the creator of the work.
Every time we show Museum in a Box to a teacher, they inevitably suggest how great it would be if their students could create a Box of their own about whatever they're studying at the time. We love this idea too, and we're keen to see a thousand museums bloom in schools and libraries around the world.
We're here to seek your support to develop our second product line: Make Your Own Museum in a Box.
Expanding Our Reach
To date, we have created bespoke Box commissions with some of the world's largest cultural institutions, like the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Smithsonian Institution, and while we wish to continue providing commissions, we also want to broaden the reach of Museum in a Box by letting anyone make one.
We're developing a Make Your Own kit version of the tech we already use at HQ to create a Collection and a Box, so anyone can do it. The kit contains a Box, 10-20 NFC stickers, and access to a software platform where you can configure your objects, stickers and audio responses into your very own Collection. Make Your Own will help kids learn skills like curation, collaboration, critical thinking, writing, audio production, digitisation, information & media literacy, and maybe even 3D printing. We also suspect that some smaller (or not so small) cultural organisations will Make Your Own too, which is brilliant.
Open Call to join the Make Your Own Pilot
In June 2018, we put out an open call for people who would like to participate in a co-design pilot, and got an amazing response! We now have a list of 40 different individuals and organisations around the world who are ready for us to send them a kit. Here's a map so you can see where they are:
There are librarians, home schoolers, foundations, museums, and teachers on our list, from Peru, USA, India, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, Lebanon, Canada, France, Spain and the UK. Phew!
We already have all of the components needed to make a box - from hardware design to the software platform - but it's not ready for public consumption. This pilot would take us to the next level, allowing anyone to log in and use the tools we've made. We're thinking it'll take us a good six months to do a great job of this, and working with the pilot group will be fantastic to help us keep on track and develop the kit's features in collaboration. Our goal is to make the first small batch of Make Your Own kits for sale in time for Christmas 2019.
The more funding we can attract, the better it will be!
What will the money be used for?
This crowdfunding campaign is the first step to help us getting over the hump of being a bootstrapped business into a business with capital. It will allow us to kick off the hardware piece of the pilot, gathering all the components we'll need to make 40 boxes, and, well, making them.
We also don't expect this campaign to be our only source of funds. We're also applying to the Social Tech Trust, KEEP+, and Arts Council England for starters, and kicking off our first equity investment round, all over the next 6-9 months. If things get crazy and we get a bazillion bucks, we'd also bring on some more people to help with software development, educational resources, and community management sooner than we have planned, which would be super duper.
- We're a small but mighty crew at HQ, led by me, George Oates. I'm a designer who's worked on the web for about 20 years, the last 10 of which I've spent focussed on the cultural heritage sector, bringing my commercial software design skills to bear on the digital challenges of clients like the British Museum, MoMA, Wellcome Trust, and the Wikimedia Foundation.
- Then there's Adrian McEwen, who's leading the tech design. He's the lead designer and maker of the Box technology and its software. He's also a veteran, specialising in the Internet of Things, and he's also the co-founder of a brilliant makerspace called DoES Liverpool.
- Charlie Cattel-Killick is a sustainable product designer, and he works on all sorts of things, but mostly the physical design of the Box, videography, and audio development.
That core crew is supported by all kinds of partners, both individual and organisations, like:
- software/web heavyweights Phil Gyford and Tom Armitage,
- Whole Education, dynamic partnership of schools and organisations committed to redefining today's educational offering,
- the Young Foundation, where we spent this summer in their Academy program, strengthening our core business proposition and reaching out into new, education-specific networks
- ThinkSee3D and Amfori Consulting, who can do the amazing 3D-related heavy lifting we can't do, and
- ...many more!