The Portfolio careers pioneer? Adventures in transportation and collaboration

At social media week 2012 I thought the opportunity to combine many of my interests into a day would be ideal, so headed down to the Riverside Museum for the “Glasgow- Five Easy Pieces- Item 1” event.

Presentation of historical objects and buildings in different ways is something which fascinates me, I have a background in conservation and the arts and find it really interesting to see how people interact with “heritage” branded activities.  This was the first time I had been to the “new” museum, I always liked the one at Kelvin Hall so it was good to see the new museum at last.  The Transport Museum was always well loved by everyone, and it only took the Riverside six months to receive over a million visitors from opening in June 2011.  I was delighted to see the Museum so busy, a dreich September weekend had brought many people of all ages down to the Museum to clamber on new exhibits, explore those they know and love already, walk down the recreated street and play with the touch screens.  All “learning” or all “play”?  I’m not sure that people necessarily analyse this to that level of detail, they were just having fun with family and friends!  I liked the level of attention to detail in the displays, even the seating areas echo Zaha Hadid’s iconic roofscape (shaped in waves).   The worlds most difficult velodrome is also rather dramatic!

Riverside Velodrome

Riverside Velodrome

Glasgow Museums are working hard to find new ways to let people explore their collections, a new treasure trail app is being launched and also next month the “big draw” project is asking people to draw or paint an item from the collection every day, creating an online sketchbook.

Our social media week talk was about the Comet steam ship, which paved the way for Glasgow’s ship building future.  It was a superbly early example of collaborative projects and it is currently the bicentenary of the PS Comet.  Henry Bell had what we would now call a portfolio career, including routes as diverse as housebuilding and a millwrighting apprenticeship.  In another twist to his career, his hotel managing days at Helensburgh led to the development of the Comet in a working collaboration between John Wood (a ship builder) and John Robertson and David Napier (both engineers) to build a steamship, ultimately to bring people into his establishment.  The explanatory text to accompany the portrait of Henry Bell says “I have done what no Emperor, King, Princes or Admiral Generals ever could do- I can make vessels go against both wind and tide- what no man could ever do before”.

Henry Bell

Henry Bell- steamship pioneer

So, lessons from that for the modern day creative professional?  Be ambitious, smile like Henry Bell and work with others to do what you would like to do.  Collaboration good!  Next time you’re on a CalMac, think of Henry Bell and his pioneering steam routes, and next time you’re on Twitter, find some local museum events to explore.

There is a podcast on here which explains more about the Comet (produced by Walking Heads).

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