Corey Timpson, guest for Meet the Media Guru at Triennale Design Museum in Milan, the 16th of May 2018, gave an intense lecture on keywords such as cultural innovation and inclusive design. Along with the experience of more than 18 years of professional engagement in museums, including 8.5 years at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) in Winnipeg, Timpson traced an interesting working map for cultural operators, directors, technicians, curators and public aiming to find the choices that work most in terms of inclusion in the museum path and the exhibitions.
Most of the examples come from the CMHR, the first museum solely dedicated to the evolution, celebration and future of human rights. As they explain on the website, the Museum aims to engage Canadians and international visitors in an immersive, interactive experience that offers both the inspiration and tools to make a difference in the lives of others. They will welcome visitors as partners on a journey to erase barriers and create meaningful, lasting change.
We asked Corey the meaning of cultural innovation for him today, in very general terms: “…cultural innovation for me is anything that is going to engage the visitor. So it could be technology based but it could also be methodology, it doesn’t have to be necessary a digital media. Anyway, applying museological practice in a way that engages the visitor, that hasn’t been done, that would be innovative.”
He gave an example, in terms of methodology: “I try with an example: the approach to inclusive design and using that methodology doesn’t really rest on technology. It rests on how we design something to engage everyone and, to me, applying that methodology is innovative in culture but has nothing to do with technology in itself.”
In Italy we have a huge amount of small museums, with very low budget and small staff. Timpson experience can help small and traditional museums, in terms of inclusion and interactivity. The first thing Corey underlined is “to ensure a strong awareness for the visitor before he comes to museum. On the website make sure that the visitors can know how many lifts are in the museum, if there are stairs or a ramp, for example. This could be the first thing: let people know what to expect.”
Awareness is inclusion, information is inclusion: Timpson brought up questions around the “legibility of text: how are the labels created? Are they readable by everyone? It doesn’t mean changing everything, or recreating all the labels, but it means the next time you create a label or a text for the museum make sure the color contrast, the size and the type can be read from everyone. All those little things that have a low cost and do not imply to change everything but starting to do things better in terms of inclusiveness.”
Timpson lecture finally identified a couple of strong points: “there are no barriers unless we create them”, this statement should help leaders, officers, museum and cultural operators in their search for the best inclusive approach. Efforts in this direction bring with them “a larger audience, a longer audience loyalty, an engaged audience more learning and an increased usability for everyone”.
A second, intriguing point has to do with storytelling. The following statement well describe Corey Timpson’s professional approach: “stories have the power to inspire. Storytelling has the power to engage. My goal is to provide meaningful and inclusive storytelling through trans and mixed-media, multi-sensory design.”