Interview with Carmina Borbonet, Head of the Education and Activities Department of the Museu del Disseny, Barcelona.
Since the museum reopened in 2014 until today, what have been the main trends in terms of quality and quantity of the museum's educational activities?
We have more than doubled the number of visits by schools, mainly workshop visits that combine the visit and exploration of an exhibition with a practical activity in the workshop.
In every museum there is always one, or several, "star" activities. What are these at the Museu del Disseny?
Undoubtedly, the stars of the school activities programme are those in which students become fashion designers, graphic designers, etc. and have to find creative solutions to problems that arise.
¿Y por qué no? (And why not?, primary), Leer el objeto (Reading the object) and Pensar con los ojos y mirar con el cerebro (Thinking with the eyes and looking with the brain, secondary) are an example, as students empathise with the problems of others in order to find and design a solution. Siluetas (im)posibles ((Im)possible Silhouettes, primary) also poses an experimental and creative game to transform the body itself.
And the object or objects that most attract the attention of the students?
They marvel at the Berlina from 1750, the "Flying carpet" rug, the motorcycles, the corsets, the racist posters of postwar as in the case of Jabones Capdevila and the pharmaceutical advertising of Pla-Narbona.
Fashion, graphic design, decorative arts... surely you have prepared some innovations for the next academic year. What will be surprising teachers from September?
Basically, what we have prepared are improvements in the methodologies of some of the activities and, above all, we have reformulated the activities linked to the Extraordinary! exhibition which hasn’t been very successful among teachers, perhaps because the contents of the exhibition seem to be too far removed from the school curriculum.
On the other hand we have prepared two new activities that seek to unveil a world of unknown and surprising objects to stimulate the creation of stories among smaller children and discussions about topics such as trade, colonialism, the consumer society, etc. These are Extraordinary stories, in which we explore objects from the museum’s collections; and Extraordinary objects, where objects speak of consumption, colonialism, the consumer society etc.
There have been many activities and the educators have worked many hours. Have you any stories to tell about the schools that have visited the museum?
Once, when talking about the Taburete Binaria (Binaria Stool) which was designed in a collaboration between a dentist (Jordi Badia) and a designer (Otto Canalo), it turned out that a student was a patient of the dentist Jordi Badia!
Finally, a question about the future. More and more, a new educational model is being extended, one based on projects and rather than textbooks. What role could museums play in the coming years?
We believe that museums can play an important role. Most of us are already involved in the improvement and innovation of the educational model by working on proposals that allow the direct experimentation and contact with the heritage, with the object and with the material culture. In addition, there is the desire to work ever more closely in collaboration with schools, on an equal footing, promoting museum-school projects that facilitate this relationship.