Visiting the Imperial War Museum: Part I

June 6, 2017

Last week the KCA team went on an outing across the road to the Imperial War Museum (IWM) to check out their current exhibitions, Syria: A Conflict Explored and People Power: Fighting for Peace.

This first article is about Syria: A Conflict Explored.

In Syria: A Conflict Explored, the IWM are hosting a season of exhibitions and events considering the origins, escalations and human impact of the ongoing Syria conflict. We began with Syria: Story of a Conflict, a short exhibition offering an introduction to the complex conflict in the country. Visitors are led past a collection of objects and personal stories to an installation film experience.

The conflict has already lasted longer than WWII and has many competing voices, making it difficult to piece together what is happening and decipher the accuracy of information. The film addresses the ‘war of narratives’ and provides a clear, balanced and objective explanation of the conflict, the events leading to it and the many sides involved.

From this we went on to see Sergey Ponomarev: A Lens on Syria, an exhibition of the award-winning Russian documentary photographer’s work. The first room provides a rare insight into ‘Assad’s Syria’, the Government controlled areas of Syria in 2013-2014. The beautifully composed colour photographs give a sense of the beauty of the country and the destruction that has occurred during the conflict. The first room shows Syrians going about their normal lives, drinking tea and baking bread whilst the war happens around them. The next room shows the visual signs of the conflict becoming more difficult to miss, children playing in rubble, soldiers, families fleeing, and explosions.

The final and smallest room of the exhibition looks at ‘The Exodus’, Syrians seeking asylum and a better life in Europe in 2015-2016. This digital projection captures the urgency, endurance and suffering of Syrians and provides a moving insight and reminder of their sacrifice and determination.

June 2014: Homeless children play in the ruins of Homs after opposition forces fled their district. Photograph: Sergey Ponomarev

In Damascus, Syria, Sunday June 15, 2014. (Photo Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times)

In Damascus, Saturday August 24, 2013. (Photo by Sergey Ponomarev)

An inflatable dinghy, crowded with refugees and migrants, is pulled ashore the Greek island of Lesbos after sailing five miles across the Aegean Sea from Turkey. July 27 2015

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Visit London’s Hidden Gem of the Week

May 10, 2017

Visit London provides an official guide to the city, showcasing the best restaurants, street markets, West-End deals and hotels for every budget. It’s guide to London and everything the city has to offer is used by Londoners, regular returners and first time tourists, and this week our exhibition at the Francis Crick Institute is the website’s hidden gem of the week!

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Sorted!: A trip to Holland

April 24, 2017


We’ve been developing Sorted! for the soon to open Postal Museum. The gallery is a dedicated play space for under 8s and combines many aspects of the world of mail and post, including an interactive sorting office, weighing machines, vintage post van and uniforms to try on.

Joe recently went to Holland to visit Bruns, the company building the exhibits for Sorted!, to see how it was coming along. Everything is taking shape and looking very exciting. We can’t share many photos before the museum opens in July, but couldn’t resist sharing a sneak peek…


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New Exhibition at The Crick

April 19, 2017

We spent last week installing the Francis Crick Institute’s new exhibition, Open for Discovery. The exhibition opens to the public tomorrow, but we couldn’t resist sharing some photos beforehand!

Open for Discovery invites visitors to step inside the scientific mind of the Crick, learn about who Francis Crick was and explore the Institute’s research interests.

The exhibition is split into six elements: Francis Crick, influenza, TB, DNA, cancer and growth factors. Scientists at the Crick’s founding sites played an important role in developing our understanding of each of these areas, and these strands of research remain central to the new Institute’s research programme with many of the scientists being world-leaders in their respective fields.

The exhibition opens to the public tomorrow, April  20th, and is open until 28th October 2017.

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Secret Structures at Wakehurst

April 12, 2017

We’ve recently been working with Wakehurst in West Sussex to design their new Secret Structures exhibition.

Wakehurst is home to a 16th-century mansion which is set in 500 acres of garden. The vast garden is incredibly impressive and includes a botanic garden, large woodland, wetland conservation area, the world’s largest seed conservation project in Kew Garden’s Millennium Seed Bank, and exhibition spaces.

Wakehurst’s new exhibition, Secret Structures, provides an opportunity to not only marvel at the featured plants and fungi, but also a platform to learn from them and better understand our need to protect them.

Secret Structures features an interactive table which invites visitors to peel back the layers of scanned objects including a Brazil nut and an orchid to reveal their intricate innards, and an excavated oak tree  suspended to reveal its complex and normally hidden root system. The exhibition also includes a specially commissioned light sculpture suspended from the ceiling, created by the exhibition’s Artist in Residence, Perdita Sinclair.

We developed multimedia displays for the exhibition. Each of the displays explore the unusual, secret and curious sides of the specimens on show, including Brazil nuts, walnuts, orchids and oak trees. The displays cover the incredible role oak trees play in supporting biodiversity in the UK, the complex process of propagating orchids and Kew Science’s expertise, and why you should think twice about falling asleep under a walnut tree- they cunningly secrete chemicals to poison nearby plants…

The exhibition’s star exhibit is the excavated oak tree which was featured on the acclaimed BBC4 programme, Oak Tree: Nature’s Greatest Survivor.

Secret Structures’ opening was covered on BBC South East.

It is open until March 2018, for more information see Wakehurst’s website.  

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KCA in China!

April 7, 2017

We’re delighted to announce that we’re working on a project for the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.

Our work centres around the development of four themed programming spaces within the Museum. The Shanghai Museum was opened in 2001 and has gone on to become one of China’s most visited modern museums.

We started been working on the project in January and have been busy developing the themed programming spaces and 68 hours of activities for a range of different audience groups. The project is due for completion in May.

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Snap Happy

March 21, 2017

We’ve been busy taking new head shots for the KCA team recently- have a look at them on Our People page- and they’ve inspired us to take more photos of our lovely team:

Here are the KCA women who were in the office on International Women’s Day on March 8th.

Rupert, Ant, Leila, Cat and Emma and something on Leila’s laptop…

And finally, the ever lovely Emma!

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Mishkat Director joins NAMES Board

March 10, 2017

Mishkat’s Executive Director, Abdulaziz AlHegelan, is the newest Member of the NAMES Board of Directors.

Abdulaziz has worked for Mishkat four years and joined the team after completing his degree in Industrial Engineering. He was appointed Executive Director at the end of last year.

Mishkat is an active member of NAMES, the network for North African and Middle Eastern Science Museums and Centres. In October last year several Mishkat team members spoke at the biennial NAMES conference- read more about it here.

Congratulations on your appointment Abdulaziz, we look forward to seeing the continuing development of the relationship between the NAMES network, Mishkat and engaging science education in Saudi Arabia!

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Extended Opening for ‘How Do We Look?’

March 3, 2017

We worked with the Francis Crick Institute to design their first public exhibition, ‘How Do We Look?’. The exhibition explores the world of biomedical imaging and the Crick scientists behind the images.

The exhibition has been extended until Wednesday 29th March- so if you haven’t been to see how the Crick or our exhibition are looking, you’ve got an extra few weeks to head over to King’s Cross!

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A Visit to the Design Museum

February 28, 2017

The new Design Museum opened its doors at the end of last year at its new location in Kensington, at the site of the old Commonwealth Institute.

The Commonwealth Institute was built in 1962 and famed for its striking design. It closed in 2004 and after an £80 million redevelopment, the building is reopened and repurposed as the Design Museum- complete with the original parabolic roof.

KCA recently went on a trip to check out it out.

The Museum’s atrium is a light and welcoming space, contributed to by the informal seating area created on the wide stairs leading visitors up into the exhibition spaces. 

We checked out ‘Designer Maker User’, the Museum’s first ever permanent and free display. The gallery charts the interconnectedness of the three roles: designer, maker and user. Designer explores the ways in which designers’ thought processes inform projects, and includes a scale model of the new London underground train, British road signs and anglepoise lamps. Maker explores the evolution of manufacturing- from everyday objects, such as tennis balls, to novel and bespoke items, like the 2012 Olympic torch. In User the focus is placed on the interaction between people and brands that have come to define the modern world. This includes a display of Apple and Sony products- highlighting the relative obsolescence of the Walkman in 2017 and comparative gawkiness of early iPods.

The gallery also includes a collection of 200 objects suggested by people as their most important object from over 25 countries. The display is diverse and includes a IKEA blue bag, pair of jeans, £5 banknote and a plastic garden chair. The Museum describes it as a demonstration of the intimate relationships we have with everyday objects that shape our lives.

Towards the end of our visit Cat (who previously lived in Japan) became reacquainted with an old friend- Paro, a Japanese therapeutic robot baby seal. Designed by Takanori Dhibata to be very cute and have a calming effect, Paro responds to petting and used in hospitals and nursing homes to elicit an emotional response from patients and residents. Creating benefits similar to those seen with animals-assisted therapy. Paro was indeed very cute and responded to our petting, soon winning over the rest of the KCA team.

Visit the Design Museum’s website to find out more.

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