Making Magic

An interactive audio-visual cauldron for the V&A’s travelling children’s exhibition Magic Worlds in Newcastle

cauldron  cauldron1

The V&A’s Magic Worlds is a traveling children exhibition which invited visitors to explore fairy tales, fantasy literature, and the origins of magic and illusion. It was presented at the Great North Museum for 3 month and intended to encourage playful learning. For this Newcastle-based exhibition we designed and crafted interactive installations, working closely with the exhibition designer, educational director, and the museum manager leading up to the exhibition to create unique digital artefacts in order to encourage greater engagement of children in this museum exhibition.

cauldron2 cauldron3

In particular, I was working on one of our artefacts, the interactive Magic Cauldron, which was situated in a small room dedicated to magical creatures. Our cauldron responded with audio-visual feedback when children (or adults) cast spells by throwing ‘ingredients’ into the cauldron. These differently weighted ingredients, such as skulls, toads, bats and snakes, would trigger a change in sound and lighting to create a magical atmosphere for which children could playfully dress up as witches or sorcerers.

Our interactive artefacts were very well received by both visitors and museum staff and they not only encouraged kids to playfully engage with the themes of the exhibition but also facilitated the museum staff in educational play in new ways. I delivered this collaborative project with researchers and artists Robyn Taylor, John Bowers, Gavin Wood and Tim Shaw at Culture Lab in conjunction with the Great North Museum.

Associated publication:

Taylor, R., Bowers, J., Nissen, B., Wood, G., Wright, P., Chaudhry, Q., Bruce, L., Glynn, S., Mallinson, H., Bearpark, R. Making Magic: Designing for Open Interactions in Museum Settings In Proc. C&C’15, ACM(2015), 313-322. [pdf] [link]

Received C&C15 AWARD for Best Contribution to Creative Communication