I'm A Museum Person

I’m A Museum Person: Lisa Junkin

Jane Addams by bluebike via Flickr.

My name is Lisa Junkin, and I’m a Museum Person.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I work at the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago, IL. I manage a staff of museum educators and organize public programming and special projects. My ongoing projects there include a film series about sex, tours of an urban farm, facilitated dialogs about immigration, and a history project with a local gang. I hail from Virginia, and I worked at a few great museums in Washington D.C. before completing a master’s degree in arts education here in Chicago.

When I’m not thinking about museums (rare), I’m volunteering with a food co-op and making ceramic sculpture. I sporadically tweet about museums @ljunkin

Why do museums matter to you?

Museums are special places. We go to socialize, to learn, and to be exposed to new ideas. For me, museums are communal spaces, where I interact with the ideas of others through art, history, science, and more.

Part of what makes museums invaluable is what I call “the thrill of the real”… the experience of visiting a museum is something different than what can be offered by schools, digital media, most other sites of learning. That said, I think museums have done a poor job of making themselves available to broad audiences. I would like for more museums function as thrillingly accessible spaces for talking, eating, playing, thinking, and making, in addition to looking and learning.

What is your favorite museum memory?

During high school I spent some Saturdays wandering the galleries at the Hirshhorn Museum (where I later interned!) just to be surrounded by weird art that I didn’t understand. I also have an early childhood memory of seeing that giant whale on the ceiling at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum and feeling really small.

What museum would you love to visit?

I’ve heard wonderful things about the District Six Museum in Cape Town. Like Hull-House, they are a member of a neat organization called the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.

District 6 Museum by thomas sly via Flickr.

What is your dream museum job?

I always wanted to become a director, though once I learned how much fundraising is involved, the novelty wore off.

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

Something that surprises the audience and gets them talking. Some kind of participatory activity. Links between past and present. Poetically written labels. Fabulous design. And cool artifacts! Perhaps supplemented by a tour, led by a clever docent?

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

I’m a sucker for weird postcards. Recently a friend in London bought me the perpetual postcard calendar and a carefully curated selection of postcards from the Tate Modern. Some are mildly inappropriate. I love them all.

Romanian Stamps Postcard by KLMircea via Flickr.

To test your museum knowledge, what cities are the following museums in? The High Museum of Art, the Experience Music Project, Musee de la Civilisation, the Courtauld Gallery, and the Kuntskammer.

  • High Museum of Art: Atlanta!
  • The Experience Music Project: Seattle!
  • Musee de la Civilisation: I said Paris. Google said Quebec.
  • The Courtauld Gallery: London!
  • The Kunskammer: Apparently St. Petersburg. I’m feeling like I should have known that one.

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?

The Louvre. Though I probably came close to that when I lived in Paris for a few months and spent serious amounts of time there.

Out of all the museums you have visited so far, which is your favorite?

There’s a special place in my heart for the Musee d’Orsay.

What is the most bizarre museum you have visited?

The Museum of Holography (Chicago) is on my list to visit. Who’s in?

There seem to be a million books and movies set in museums. Do you have a favorite?

Are there? Well, it’s definitely not Night at the Museum.

Photo by gracewells533 via Flickr.


Thanks to Lisa 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: Lisa Junkin”

  1. salim on August 31st, 2013

    Hello! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group?
    There’s a lot of folks that I think would really appreciate your content.
    Please let me know. Thanks

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