Museobunny has had a wonderful day today! At quarter past nine this morning, I and my wonderful traveling buddies began our adventure to Nottingham. After a well-behaved hour on the coach, we disembarked at Green's Mill and Science Centre. This is, perhaps, not Nottingham's most famous site, nor is George Green it's most famous figure, but the famous and the obvious are not the focus for this conference. We want to find the obscure, the hidden, the strange, and today's visit certainly showed that in this unseen world, tiny nuggets of beauty can be found.
Situated at the top of a hill in Sneinton, this tower mill provides a beautiful space of escape and relaxation. It is not often that you can visit a conference and listen to the early spring song of the blackbird, or glimpse the past in a tangible present.
Green's Mill, typical of the 18th and 19th centuries, was built by George Green Snr, a prosperous businessman, in 1807. It passed to his son, also called George, on his death in 1829. George Jnr, however, had a role beyond that of the Miller - he was a mathematician, and fellow of Cambridge's Caius College, whose theories on subjects such as electricity and magnetism still impact our lives today. It was only some time after his death in 1841, however, that his reputation began to grow, and his importance to be recognised, and after some years of dereliction and restoration, the mill was finally opened as a museum and homage to Green in 1985.
Accompanied by it's Science Centre, it provides a fantastically unusual space in which to tell a multitude of stories - of milling, of science and mathematics, of the social history of Nottingham, the biography of a man, and of a site. It is a place which those who work there clearly love - the miller takes you on a tour of his working mill, and you can see the fondness and tacit knowledge he has of his building and way of life. It is truly amazing to see the survival of such modes of production and being, particularly in a world in which many are separated from that production. This is certainly not a 'dead' museum, a mausoleum, but a living site, and highly valuable for this. Sadly, however, with the current financial climate, such sites are under threat.
Later, we walked to Nottingham Contemporary, where Museuobunny and his companions had lunch. The gallery is currently in changeover, so there were no exhibitions on as such, but there is a sense in which these changeover periods are also interesting, for the galleries of the Contemporary are such that you can look through the glass walls into the installation processes. The back of house, the production of display, here becomes subject to Benjamin's phenomenon of porosity, the leaking of spaces and conceptual worlds one into the other. We dispersed, after this, and Museobunny really hopes that his honored guests enjoyed exploring Nottingham. He also hopes that perhaps some of them would like to comment upon this post, and tell him what they got up to on their day-trip!