The Imagination Museum

Last weekend at the Zoology Museum we welcomed the Made by Katie Green Dance Company as part of the DanceLive Festival for very special performances of the piece ‘The Imagination Museum.’ Curatorial Assistant Laura tells us more about this quirky tour of the museum.

On Saturday and Sunday visitors young and slightly less young (me!) flocked to the Zoology Museum for a very special tour. In the foyer of the Museum we were met by Henry, Mildred and Harriet, and as an audience we were immediately immersed, through the brilliant characterisation and cheeky music by Max Perryment, into the spellbinding world of the Imagination Museum.

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The wonderful characters, Henry, Harriet and Mildred, were brought to life by dancers Robert Guy, Lucy Starkey and Jessamin Landamore. Mildred is the stern head of visitor services at the Imagination Museum, and is accompanied by her assistants cheeky Henry who spends the tour delightfully distracting the audience and excitable Harriet who is filled with wonder at everything she sees in the Museum.

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Meet the tour guides!

After a ‘Safe and Unhealthy’ notice that hilariously takes on the museum stereotype of no touching, no talking, no playing, no laughing, no fun, Harriet and Henry split the audience into two groups: woolly mammoths and stegosaurus… I was a stegosaurus! We followed the guides around the upper level of the museum, meeting Jeffery the Whale along the way. The guides then proceeded to ask the audience: ‘if I ask you a question what do you think of first?’ followed by innumerable questions such as ‘how do we walk?’ and ‘how many bones are in the hand?’ These questions were accompanied by playful movements and clever choreography which saw Harriet and Henry’s curiosity become so uncontrollable they  literally ended up in a knot on the ground!

Questions!

Questions!

The audience were encouraged to join in throughout, with Henry coercing everyone to help him with his neglected dusting duties! At the museum we are always looking for a helping hand with the dusting, so this was an added perk of the piece!

Dusting!

Dusting!

After dusting our way down to the lower gallery we reached the ‘beginning’ of the tour, although Mildred, Henry and Harriet couldn’t quite agree where to begin! Mildred overruled the other two and began with the first animal leaving the sea and walking on the earth, this was accompanied by ethereal music and Lucy performing a beautiful piece of dance which was viewed through the glass of the porpoise display.

Bringing the audience round to central area of the museum the three dancers explored the idea of learning about the past through the imprints left behind, performing a dance section around the overarching question: ‘Imagine if everywhere you went you left a mark?’

Imprints

Imprints

After this thoughtful section of fluid movements and interesting questions, the audience are again distracted by Henry who realises he has forgotten to move a delivery of boxes to the office, cue the audience helping out again! We were then brought back round to find a skull in one of these boxes, expertly danced by Lucy. This section with Lucy as an animated skull had a hint of Night at the Museum about it, with objects coming to life and telling us their secrets.

Skull in the box!

Skull in the box!

The final section returned to the ‘Questions’ motif, this time with Mildred, Harriet and Henry asking about the future, with questions such as ‘will we meet again?’ and ‘are there any new fruits?’ Again accompanying these questions was the expert choreography of Katie Green, which saw the three dancers moving around and with each other using fluid movements and fascinating sequences. The final question was the rather poignant ‘how long is now?’ with the piece finishing with Mildred pronouncing ‘This is now.’

From my personal point of view it was wonderful to see the Zoology Museum brought the life in such a creative and vibrant way. For me the piece promoted the curiosity and joy people can, and hopefully do feel when they visit a museum.

To find out more about the Dancing in Museums project by Made by Katie Green please visit the website here. If you would like to visit the Zoology Museum you can find out more about it here. And finally keep an eye on our YouTube page, here, for excerpts from The Imagination Museum!

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About uoamuseums

The University of Aberdeen's Museums include King’s Museum and the University's Zoology Museum. The museums can claim to be Scotland's oldest, with records of museums and collections as far back as the late 17th century. Thanks to their status as a Recognised Collection of national significance, the Zoology Museum’s displays are currently being improved, while King's Museum hosts changing exhibitions drawn from across the collections, particularly those formerly in Marischal Museum. Visitors are warmly welcomed to the museums, and there are no charges for admission. Marischal College now houses the Museums Collections Centre, caring for and conserving many of the collections.
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