Museum of Marco Polo

Celebrating Museums And Imagination 2020

The Wonder Trailer

28th May 2020

Round our way an enterprising cafe owner is crowd-funding to buy a milk float, which she will use to bring flat whites, croissants and other delicacies from the Olden Days to our door steps.

But sometimes an idea comes first, before the times for which it’s meant.  And an example of this could be the Wonder Trailer, an idea that we (at Metaphor) developed back in 2012, when the idea of a travelling museum was quirky and charming but not an absolute necessity.  There is no tradition of travelling museums in this country. (Travelling exhibitions are another matter – and generally much less romantic.)

Now of course times have changed.  As museum directors wonder how to impose social distancing on cramped galleries and small cafes and gift shops, the idea of a museum that travels to you and stays outdoors becomes suddenly compelling.  So this is how you could picture it.  The Wonder Trailor draws up outside your school.  The children sit down on the grass and a Storyteller steps up and standing in front of the Wonder Trailor tells you stories of local history.  Afterwards the children come up in small groups to peer at its treasures.  The displays are made up of a language of boxes.  Inside them are miniature models, artefacts, jokes, automata.  Theatrical lighting. Buttons that the Storyteller can press to make things move and sounds that pop and crash.  Each community could create a part of the display. Afterwards the Storyteller can leave stories behind.

And all this content can be changed so that several museums can share in the Wonder Trailer.

All this seemed fanciful in 2012 but much less so now that we know that the coronavirus travels more slowly in the open air, where social distancing is also easier.  There’s nothing like an idea whose time has come.

The Wonder Trailer was developed by www.metaphor-design.co.uk

If you want to know more contact my colleague Kara Dickinson at kdickinson@metaphor-design.co.uk

And if anyone can offer up  more examples of travelling museums, probably from abroad, I would love to hear them.