Lilliputian Museum Matrix | An installation by Thomas Mason

Interior views of the Ballantyne Type Museum

17th January – 18th March 2011  | Mondays to Fridays  9:00am to 5:30pm

Harkening back to the Cabinets of Curiosity of the classical era, the ‘Lilliputian Museum Matrix’ is a collection of miniature museums inhabiting Edinburgh’s historic police boxes. Each box houses a succinct collection of Scottish artifacts, ranging from the Arthur’s Seat Coffins, to the ancient Lewis Chessmen. Conceived as one in a series, the life size police box replica lovingly constructed at Schop, is designed to house the type sorts used to print Sir Walter Scott’s novels. The installation is a result of the careful blending of the narratives of the objects housed within, and the area of the city surrounding the police box. In a city which can be considered a museum itself, the miniaturization aspect causes us to question the nature of museums as they themselves become the artifacts on display.

The idea of the miniature is the seed from which the project bloomed. The French philosopher Gaston Bachelard laments that “…we haven’t time, in this world of ours, to love things and see them at close range, in the plenitude of their smallness.” This installation entices the viewer with a window into that ‘small’ world. The public can sit and daydream on the miniature machinations of the museum’s tiny inhabitants.

Dreaming for dreaming’s sake is not Mason’s main objective, he argues that the miniaturization of an object can enhance its meaning and as Le Corbusier famously declared that “A house is a machine for living in”, so a museum must be a machine for learning in. However, in order to fully realize the function of a great machine, we must extricate ourselves from its inner workings. We may work its levers and buttons, but we cannot know the whole while we reside within.

Thomas Mason is an expatriate American with a background in interiors, architecture and film design. He read architecture at Newcastle University, then collaborated on a few short film projects in London. He moved to Edinburgh in 2008, where he studied Interior Design and graduated with a Masters (with Distinction) from the Edinburgh College of Art in 2010. His work was exhibited in the summer graduate degree show and featured in ‘Line’ magazine. He now works for RFA Design in Halifax, as a museum exhibition designer. His extensive travels have given him a unique insight into the built environment and how it changes from city to city, culture to culture.

Rasha Alkhatib has acted as Assistant Curator for ‘Lilliputian Museum Matrix’. She completed a BA (Hons) in Architectural Studies at Newcastle University and a Master of Architecture (MArch) at the University of Edinburgh. She has worked at several architecture firms in Dubai and London, and since graduating has assisted in the curation of a number of exhibitions.

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