I'm A Museum Person

I’m A Museum Person: Restless Curator

National Museum of Ireland. Photo by infomatique via Flickr.

National Museum of Ireland. Photo by infomatique via Flickr.

My name is Restless Curator, and I’m A Museum Person.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am currently working the Natural History Museum in Dublin, Ireland as part of the Documentation team. So I spend my day cataloging the collections which include Geology, fossils, taxidermy, specimens in alcohol and dried. My family were always avid museum goers, so I strongly believe my love of museums and heritage could very well be genetic! I originally studied to be a graphic designer but quickly fell in love with the idea of working in museums after deciding to write my thesis on them. This thesis explored ideas of how design in museums can create a sense of a national identity for a nation, specifically looking at Ireland as an example. During this time I started volunteering in the museum which involved cataloging the dry mollusc collection, which meant once my job arose I had the relevant experience. I am now doing a part time masters in which my thesis will explore the idea of institutional memory within museums. Institutional memory is the knowledge that those who work within museums, or any organisation, collect about that institution over time. People who work in museums, their knowledge and their sense of humor about the collections they work with, plays second fiddle to the more academic treatments of museums and collections. I hope to investigate how this accrued knowledge could be collected and communicated to the public and other museums.

Why do museums matter to you?

They not only tell us about the past but they help us understand the making of the world as we know it. They tell personal, national and international stories that can inform, educate and amuse us. They are fragmentary, a giant puzzle that we shape to explain the world as it is now. In the future the manner in which we assembled that puzzle will be an artifact within it’s own right.

What is your favorite museum memory?

My father was involved in the local county museum when I was a child. My favourite memory was standing on a little set of steps leading to the stage in the old theatre that housed it’s exhibition staring up at the skull of a Giant Irish Deer above me. The vast breadth of it’s antlers were as dizzying then as they are now.

What museum would you love to visit?

Right now I would love to see The Museum of Jurassic Technology, as I believe humor is a key element in involving the public in the majority of collections especially those of eclectic nature!

Scene from the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Photo by saschapohflepp via Flickr.

Scene from the Museum of Jurassic Technology. Photo by saschapohflepp via Flickr.

What is your dream museum job?

Right now, I think I would love to create the role of Display Manager in the Natural History Museum in which I work. For those who don’t know this museum, it is often referred to as a “museum of a museum” – a classic Victorian museum of cabinets which has remained largely untouched for most of it’s 150 plus life span. It’s collections date back to the late 1790s and it still has a very didactic museum feel. The challenge of working with the over all aesthetic of the building whilst courting more modern museum practices of display would be immense but I think it would be full of joy and surprise also.

When you think of the perfect exhibit, what is in it?

This is a tough one! I think it would have to be something that spans a huge amount of time in a glimpse. So something like a fossil Archaeopteryx and a modern bird, or even a very early taxidermied animal shown beside a more modern specimen. They are items that can be appreciated purely for their fascinating beauty or ugliness or can be exhibited with a whole host of information.

Who is the funnier museum twitterer…@SUEtheTrex or @NatHistoryWhale?

Well I’m going to be very biased here and say neither and that @SpotticusNH is the only tweeting specimen for me!

What is the most random item you have bought from a museum gift shop?

I’m drawing a bit of a blank on this one! The most random thing I have ever seen is a Garfield soft toy in with all the more ‘real’ soft toy animals in a Natural History Museum – that was a bit odd!

Photo by hdaniel via Flickr.

Photo by hdaniel via Flickr.

What is the strangest museum you’ve ever been to or heard of?

The National Leprechaun Museum that opened in Dublin in 2010 is pretty strange, but I have yet to hand over the 10 euro to go inside!

You may have heard of the Month at the Museum contest recently held at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. What museum would you move into for a month if you could?

I think it would have to be the Field Museum in Chicago, I know Spotticus quite well – I’d like to meet Sue too!


Thanks to Restless Curator for sharing her experiences. If you’re interested in participating in the “I’m A Museum Person” series, send us an email at editor@museumist.com, and we’ll get your story up on the site.

One Response to “I’m A Museum Person: Restless Curator”

  1. The Museumist | The Restless Curator on October 31st, 2012

    […] “I’m a Museum Person” series on The Museumist.My humble ramblings can be found here. This entry was posted in Uncategorized by Rebecca. Bookmark the […]

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