A new exhibition comes to Hull’s Dinostar, created by young designers working with animatronics from the BBC’s Walking with Beasts series. The exhibition was officially opened Saturday 6 February, in front of a large crowd of visitors, as part of Kids in Museums Day.
The injection of funds allowed Creative Briefs to widen the scope of the project and increase their design team, from the planned six to twelve. The project leaders could now focus on giving the young people, the best experience without having to worry about raising funds.
The young design team, selected from an original 45 applicants, had been challenged to draw and design new dinosaurs, thinking about appearance, environment and survival.
During a series of guided workshops, ideas have been refined and adapted by the young designers, as they tackled each design concern. They successfully pitched their own ideas, keeping in mind issues to do with different audiences and accessibility.
The result is a multi-sensory experience with engaging, informative displays and exhibits, incorporating sight, smell, touch and hearing. The young designers were very excited to show the visitors every aspect of the exhibits.
‘The best bit has been today, seeing the exhibition and showing it to all the people.’ said Jack from the Design Team.
The launch event was a huge success, with the children leading groups around the museum, to the three different areas, they themselves had designed.
I asked some of the young design team to tell me more about their experience of working on the project. The responses underlined just how much of an educational journey they had been on.
Ben: Design is fun and exciting
Demi: I really enjoyed learning about new dinosaurs particularly the Indricothere
(thanks to a clever audio learning tool, I think we all now know how to pronounce In-dri-co-ther-ra)
It is incredibly heartening to see young people so engaged with a subject, really thinking about fundamental design questions.
‘You have to think about people who can’t hear or see,’ Jack explains to me as we look at a dino-jigsaw that blind and partially sighted visitors can put together.
Ben had been impressed by the Smilodon and told me how they were related to sabre tooth tigers with their large curved fangs. ‘These are the first dinosaurs with feathers,’ says a very knowledgeable Tom stood by a flying raptor exhibit. Earlier he had explained to me at length how Terror Birds hunted the aforementioned Smilodon, firing of a bunch of facts and figures, all carefully researched.
Likewise Jacob, who first showed me how to unearth the bones of a fossilised raptor, then explained how this dinosaur used stealth and speed, in order to hunt.
Words like carnivore, herbivore, predator are trotted out with ease. Visitors to the exhibition will absolutely learn new things, not just learn, but get a real sense or scent of a prehistoric beast. Demi told me how she liked the smell of the Macrauchenia because it smelled of mint, she explained that was because it lived on land and fed on plants. Clever scent boxes allow you to breathe in that mint smell, just like the dinosaur did years before.
By another exhibit I find Tom again, singing out ‘Am-bu-lo-ce-tus‘ – a particularly ferocious looking creature, known as the ‘walking whale’. It is actually a kind of 3 metre crocodile that fed on fish. He delighted in telling me all this and also, how during the filming of the BBC’s Walking with Beasts, the animatronic model had exploded on a rock.
Upstairs I find Jack again, busy in the 3D section, moulding plasticine. I ask him what the secret is to building a dinosaur.
‘Start with the body,’ he explains, ‘Then work on the head, then the tail. Dinosaurs needed such big tails to balance them out.’
Many of the project overseers remarked upon, how freeing and refreshing it was, to work with the young design team.
I spoke with a couple of teachers from Grimsby, who had been involved in one of the workshops.
‘There’s so much excitement, they are full of imaginative ideas: there are no rules to their approach.’ Catherine Brompton (Toll Bar Academy) Paul Sparks (Grimsby Institute)
‘The design team have actively been converting research, into visual planning and refinement, before communicating the final designs to the builder, exactly the way any design brief would be approached.’ Rebecca Shipham (Creative Briefs)
The launch event concluded with a Q and A, as the young designers of the future and a Design grad. student Big Jim @BigJimDesigns from the Grimsby Institute, shared ideas on what constituted good design practice. They covered areas such as interactivity, incorporating new ideas and taking what you’ve learned, into future projects.
Later each member of the team, were presented with a framed picture of their dinosaur design, plus a two year free pass to Dinostar.
The value in engaging young minds in creativity and design, can not be underestimated. Done well the results can be exceptional, as visitors to the new Walking with Beasts exhibition at Dinostar will see. This kind of live project with real outcomes, has such a positive effect on a child’s capacity to learn, and fuels their curiousity and understanding of the world around them.
Creative Briefs have created a template for future projects, that other organisations who engage with the model, can only serve to benefit from.
I’ll be proudly displaying my red Dinostar badge on my lapel – thank you Tom, and to the rest of the Design Team, a huge congratulations. Nothing but praise for you all.
Visit Dinostar Hull’s Dinosaur Experience http://www.dinostar.co.uk
For more info on the project: http://www.creativebriefs.co.uk/dinostar-1/
Pictures courtesy of Graeme Oxby, Stuart Wall and Sarah Taylor