What The Bees Taught Us About Museums

By Team Mojarto 

Bridging the unequal divide between communities and granting more access to information through micro museums, Amanda Schochet tells us more about her initiative through her TED talk ‘How bumble bees inspired a network of tiny museums’.  

Beginning with the idea of the ‘mouseion’ which meant the ‘seat of the muses’ in Greek, the museum has gained popularity through the ages for its comprehensive and concise collection of ‘culture’, so to speak. However, the disparity faced by lesser-privileged neighbourhoods due to their locale profile, distance from the museum and financial access to a pass made it harder to access and less likely a place for them to frequent. 

MICRO, The Smallest Mollusk Museums
MICRO, The Smallest Mollusk Museum

These large disparities were visible to Amanda Schochet, who at the time was working with NASA. Her access to the ‘bigger picture’ and aerial views of various neighbourhoods made her realise how awfully grim the ground reality and divide was. And then she noticed the collective working of bees and their unique habitat fragments. 

‘There were actually some small opportunities for optimism, these tiny patches of resources known as “habitat fragments.” If the right kinds of plants were growing along the edges of a Costco parking lot, and if in the neighbourhoods nearby there were native plants in people’s gardens, and in the canyons that were too steep for people to put their suburbs in, there were native plants instead of grasses, then all of these in-between spaces would actually add up to create a network of habitat fragments,’ she explains in her talk. These habitat fragments helped the bees stay connected in an environment that was not necessarily perfect. 

MICRO, The Perpetual Motion Museum
MICRO, The Perpetual Motion Museum

Just as much as the bees were learning to thrive, so could we, thus prompting Amanda to establish MICRO LLC. It helped introduce six-foot tall micro museums into spaces people would not generally expect to see, and provide a treasure trove of information that was not otherwise accessible. ‘Museums are the most trusted source of public information, more than the media and more than the government, but they also cluster in wealthier neighbourhoods.’ Thus the micro museums became more important to implement than ever.  

Amanda Schochet giving her TED talk in 2019
Amanda Schochet giving her TED talk in 2019

The Smallest Mollusk Museum, as well as the Perpetual Motion Museum, were made to ensure that the public would have access to the resources as well as be able to connect with the information provided. Small but powerful, they are a fantastic initiative towards bridging the information gap as well as giving everyone an equal chance at visiting a museum, albeit a micro one.