Five Short Games for a Museum

Game, Poetry
These gamepoems were commissioned for the Wellcome Collection’s Friday Late Spectacular: Play, 3/7/15, along with pieces from Hannah Nicklin and Adam Dixon.

Genetic Code

Devise an alphabetic cipher using only the symbols G, T, C and A. (e.g A=TTT, B= TTTC, C=TTA, &c.) Translate your name using the cipher. Now locate a printed copy of a sequenced human genome. Read it. When you find your name, you win. This game can be played competitively, as a race.

Museum Oracle

Come to a museum with an important question: Choose your five favourite exhibits and note down their numbers in the order you found them. Now find a bookcase.

Counting from the bottom up and from right to left, cycling if necessary:

the first exhibit number selects a shelf in that bookcase;
the second number selects a book on that shelf;
the third number, a page in that book;
the fourth, a line on that page;
the fifth, a word on that line.

That word is your answer.


Take some friends to a museum exhibition about sex. You must each attempt to examine all the exhibits, in the order of your choice, crossing back and forth as necessary. Study each exhibit carefully. For everything you examine, ask yourself “Does this turn me on?” If it doesn’t, mark a point on your scorecard. If it does, leave the exhibition immediately and wait for your friends. The player with the highest score wins.


Find an exceptionally engaging exhibit with a comfortable viewing area, and sit. Rest your gaze gently on the exhibit. Take it all in. Cultivating a soft and subtle mind, examine the exhibit inch by inch. Take as long as you need. For each museum visitor who crosses your gaze, notices you and your concentration, and awkwardly apologises, score a point.


Take a friend to a museum. Agree together on the exhibit which is the most emotionally gruelling. Use as your benchmark Sejla Kameric’s “Ab uno disce omnes”, a working mortuary fridge with a screen cycling through 30,000 files documenting a genocide. The player who is able to spend the longest time with the exhibit wins/loses.

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