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Innovative exhibition concept 1X4 opens at Newcastle Museum this weekend

An innovative new exhibition, encouraging visitors to explore multiple truths opens at Newcastle Museum tomorrow.

The 1X4 exhibition was conceived by Newcastle Museum as a way of highlighting the role curators and historians play in how we perceive the significance of things, presenting visitors with four diverse “stories” for each object, reflecting a range of different but valid perspectives that can be used to interpret the displays.

Newcastle Museum Director Julie Baird said the concept had already attracted both state-wide and international interest flipping the exhibition concept on its head, right down to how the stories are presented – on your own phone or device instead of labels on walls.

“By using their own phones, visitors can read or listen to each object’s stories plus listen to its accompanying song, in an accessible and COVID safe way, so when you come, don’t forget to bring your mobile or device,” she said. 

1X4 breaks the power that museums have when they choose what to collect and how to interpret.  An object as simple as a child’s dress can tell of the Baby Boom generation, the symbolism of the colour pink, an individual’s childhood or the science of the Nylon revolution.

“The exhibition begins as many conversations as it concludes, allowing visitors to enjoy deeper engagement and a more philosophical view on rare, beautiful and ordinary objects. We are hoping visitors leave the show and go home to explore the links, songs and stories more after the have visited in person.”

Ms Baird added that while the exhibition will start life in Newcastle, it will eventually travel to other local government-funded museums in NSW and that there had been considerable interest overseas about the concept.

“The approach is considered so ground-breaking that local government-funded museums in Canada have been in contact and are interested in creating their own version of the 1X4 concept,” she said.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes added that the interest generated by the 1X4 concept was reflective of the quality of exhibitions, collections and programming coming out of Newcastle Museum.

“Newcastle Museum is on the cutting edge of contemporary museum practice, creating insightful and immersive ways to interpret and preserve our city’s fascinating history,” Cr Nelmes said.  

Visitors will need to use a phone or device to experience the audio or written labels, links and songs for every object. 

1×4 opens at Newcastle Museum on Saturday 19 December and will remain on display until Monday 31 May 2021 Entry is free. Newcastle Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am – 5pm, and Mondays during NSW public and school holidays.