Connecting museum collections and contemporary medical technologies
Messy Realities: The Secret Life of Technology explored the work of the research project Studies in Co-Creating Assisted Living Solutions (SCALS). The SCALS team invited museum engagement staff and members of the public to co-design a display that would reflect on the team’s research into assistive living technologies and generate new insights to inform ongoing research. This process brought together an interdisciplinary group of researchers, museum staff, designers from Rycotewood Furniture Centre and community members living with long-term health conditions to test connections between historic museum objects and contemporary medical technologies, particularly ‘assistive living technologies’. If we put unexpected objects together, could meaningful connections be made? Could we spark new ideas about what assistive living technologies are and find out new things about what they mean to the people who use them? Could we think about objects in the collections in new ways by viewing them alongside assistive living technologies from the SCALS research?
A museum of comparative technology meets assistive living technology
Often described as a ‘museum of comparative technology’, the Pitt Rivers collections can be understood as worldwide examples of technologies created to cope with the dilemmas of life. For example, it demonstrates ways to stay connected with loved ones, ways to worship and ways to care for family. To develop the Messy Realities display, we thought about objects in the collections as technologies that assist people to live their lives, just like the assistive living technologies from the SCALS research that we considered alongside them.