Ever experimenting with new ways of reaching to audiences, 29th March saw a small contingent from the content team and willing volunteers host a zine making workshop at the Natural History Museum Lates.
The theme of the evening was ‘Copy Cats’ and was all about exploring the ways that nature has inspired scientists and engineers to explore new solutions, from architecture to medical technologies.
One of the things we’re interested in is encouraging visitors to engage with ‘untold’ stories and different perspectives on natural history, but we’re also interested in hearing back from people about what they find interesting and what questions they might have. The zine workshop is all about providing a space for people to do that in a fun and creative way.
But wait, what exactly is a zine?
A zine is shorthand for ‘magazine’ and generally refers to handmade newsletters or leaflets that people put together on a topic they’re interested in. They’re often associated with the DIY ethos of the punk movement where people would put together their own mini publications to share their opinion about anything, be it a favourite band, a new writer they’d come across or even a local politician.
For those of us interested in working together with people to understand their concerns and needs, zines are a great way for people to share their thoughts and questions about the topics raised at the Lates events. Paying homage to the theme, visitors were provided with random prompts on a range of topics from animal behaviours to examples of how humans have been inspired to create ingenious new technologies based on nature. We encouraged people to make a zine imagining a future, social or technological, inspired by the prompts they selected.
Special credit goes to Humon Comics for their brilliant and quirky comics about sexual behaviours in the animal kingdom, and also the content creators on Discover, whose articles on Biomimetics were a very helpful source!
There’s so much we learn when we hear back from visitors about what was particularly interesting for them. Some people were really intrigued by the idea that slug slime could inspire wound adhesives, and others were more taken by the idea of architecture being inspired by termite mounds. It was great seeing how people of carrying ages engaged indifferent ways with the content and one person even took a few of the prompts home with them!
We’ll be returning to the next Lates with our zine making on the last Friday of this month with a new theme… and even more glitter!
Written by Florence Okoye, user researcher in Digital Media and Marketing