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No Dragons Allowed in the Galleries

Photo by d'n'c via Flickr.

This museum manners video from the Milwaukee Art Museum is really well done…

Museum Manners at the Milwaukee Art Museum

Photo Gallery

I’ll Take Two Parrots

Not sure where this is taken, or what precisely is going on, but I imagine its a behind-the-scenes at the museum shot. Anyone know where this is or have a funny caption that you would include?

Photo from The World’s Best Ever.

I'm A Museum Person

I’m A Museum Person: Kristen Olson

Legion of Honor. Photo by tibchris via Flickr.

Legion of Honor. Photo by tibchris via Flickr.

My name is Kristen Olson, and I’m a Museum Person.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I like black licorice and Richard Diebenkorn and I dream of a paperless office. I love people and find them fascinating. (I mean, look at airplanes, post-it notes, yogurt – our brains and what we come up with are nothing short of amazing.) I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and live and work here still. This year I’m learning to ski after many years of snowboarding. What else? I’ve been working in museums for more than 10 years and have my masters in museum education. My favorite color is green. Parties at museums are quite possibly my favorite kind of parties. I work in the education department at the Cantor Arts Center, which is the medium-sized, encyclopedic art museum for Stanford University out here in California.

Why do museums matter to you?

Personally, they make me think in a different way – about myself and about the world around me. (Again with the “people are infinitely fascinating” idea). Our creativity is mirrored in museums. I think we go to museums to see ourselves. Also, they’re complicated. And fun! And diverse.

What is your favorite museum memory?

It was a visit to the Rothko Room at the Tate many years ago. The art alone was beautiful, and I think I can say it was an entryway to my personal comfort with Modern art. BUT! It was truly memorable because a group of 3rd graders came in with their teacher. All the kids spread out around the room (some flopped down on their stomachs) and looked at the art. Some giggled and talked to each other about it. They all looked! And then wrote in their notebooks about it. Nobody looked disengaged. Third graders. I was enchanted. It was magic.

Rothko Room at the Tate Modern. Photo by libbyrosof via Flickr.

Rothko Room at the Tate Modern. Photo by libbyrosof via Flickr.

What museum would you love to visit?

The Museum of Jurassic Technology. I heard the curator speak many years ago, and his commitment was outstanding and memorable. The museum is wholly unique.

What is your dream museum job?

I, uh, kind of have it right now. Which is not to say that I’m not looking forward to where I want to grow (head of educational media/technology someday) but I love my job. I straddle the academic and social campus community and in-gallery educational technology land. My title is kind of wacky, but entirely descriptive: “Academic and Educational Technology Liaison.” I work with student and faculty on incorporating art into their scholarship, which is a focus within the interdisciplinary mission. I am also the education tech person, so I bring that voice in during exhibition development.

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

Great art, a variety of opportunities to sit down and look at it, good lighting, enough text, space so I don’t feel crowded, and a lot of different ways to learn.

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

Sue, absolutely. I want to be like her when I’m that age. (Haha) Feisty and funny as all get out.

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

Perhaps not the most random ever, but my two cheeky and favorite things are t-shirts. The first is my “Ya Give Me Shiva” t-shirt from one of my favorite museums, the Minneapolis Institute of Art. (I also did my graduate internship there over one awesome summer.) The second is “I have seen the Gates of Hell” with a picture of Rodin’s sculpture on the back.

Rodin's Gates of Hell. Photo by rjhuttondfw via Flickr.

Rodin's Gates of Hell. Photo by rjhuttondfw 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 Kuntskammer.

  • The High Museum is in Atlanta.
  • The EMP is in Seattle.
  • Musee de la Civilisation is in…uh…Nice, France?
  • The Courtauld Gallery is in London, I think?
  • And the Kuntskammer is in Zurich, maybe.

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 Met! Years ago and friend and I joked that we were going to save up, rent an apartment across the street, and go every single day. I think living in a museum for a month is such a fun idea. But I would absolutely be afraid of ghosts.

The Met. Photo by Listen Missy! via Flickr.

The Met. Photo by Listen Missy! via Flickr.

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

Oh! That is too hard. I love museums. Each is unique and has their own specialness. I will say that I had a very profound childhood experience at the Legion of Honor, so it will forever have a special place in my heart. You may find me sitting in the Spanish Ceiling room, just looking up.

What is the most bizarre museum you have ever visited?

In my mom’s hometown, there is a history museum that I would visit when seeing my grandmother. There is a room packed – sometimes three deep – with headless mannequins that are wearing clothes from various time periods, donated by the locals. This in itself is not really bizarre, but it was something out of Twilight Zone to me. I had a recurring nightmare about headless mannequins as a kid because of that room. They still kind of creep me out.

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Thanks to Kristen 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.


Exhibitions

Random Exhibition Title Generator

Stumbled across this Random Exhibition Title Generator on Coudal this morning.

It made me try and imagine what would be in these exhibits.

For instance, In Search of Illusion: The Disjunction of Dysfunction…is this an exhibit about magicians? Or perhaps it’s a photography show?

Or how about Postcolonial Banality: A Retrospective of the System? A look at how postcolonial societies struggled to find their own identity, or an interior design show?

And when Archaeological History: Figuring the Avant Garde came up, I was at a loss. Is there such a thing and avant garde archaeology?

So, you tell us, what would we find in an exhibit titled Decadent Properties: Defying Too Many Dinner Parties?

I'm A Museum Person

I’m A Museum Person: Jessica Baldwin

The Chrysler Building by joiseyshowaa via Flickr.

The Chrysler Building by joiseyshowaa via Flickr.

My name is Jessica Baldwin, and I’m a Museum Person.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a young museum professional living and working in New York City. I love new-left historical interpretation. I can really sink my teeth into woman’s history (shocked that I’m a woman?). I enjoy reading historical fiction; I just finished My Name is Mary Sutter. I am extremely organized and hope to someday have a paying job working with collections, but for now I am content helping to run the volunteer program at my museum.

Why do museums matter to you?

Museums matter to me because they are community centers and education leaders. Education can be structured or free form and a museum is both for all ages. School children visit with their class, families come for a Saturday and adults can come alone or in groups. A researcher can use a museum as a concentrated source of material. A first date can be had at a museum. A wedding can be hosted at a museum. A person can give back to their community through a museum, whether volunteering, membership, object donation, sitting on the board or making a monetary donation.

What is your favorite museum memory?

Do I have to pick just one? When my parents took the family to Washington, D.C., I told them I had to see the United States Constitution or I might die. I memorized the preamble to be sure the guards – who I imagined to be like the Swiss Guard – would understand my dedication and let me in. Turned out they let everyone in. A place where precious things could be seen by all; a wonderful childhood realization.

What museum would you love to visit?

It’s hard to pick one when I am unaware of so many. I would LOVE to visit the Terracotta Army in China. I know it isn’t a museum, but a person’s need to bring his material life with him to the afterlife is so relatable to collection preservation. Objects weren’t meant to last forever and yet we struggle to keep them for eternity.

The Terracotta Army by SmokingPermitted via Flickr.

The Terracotta Army by SmokingPermitted via Flickr.

What is your dream museum job?

Collection Manager for an American history museum, who focuses on civilian/domestic object collecting.

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

This is like the magic wand interview question. A perfect exhibit would be one that’s presentation allows guests to draw their own informed conclusions about the subject matter. It would reach all global community members. despite age, gender, race, etc. It would have an interactive level that would give visitors the opportunity to use more senses than just sight. It would draw acclaim that the museum could use to promote funding. There is so much more, but utopian exhibit dreams don’t always come true.

Who’s the funnier museum Twitterer…@SUEtheTrex or @NatHistoryWhale?

@NatHistoryWhale cracks me up! “They’re forecasting more snow for NYC. Personally, I prefer H2O in liquid form, with a dash of salt and krill.” Have you seen this thing? It’s dusty, blue, huge, and hangs from a ceiling. Imaging what its voice sounds like. Are you laughing yet?

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

I was at the Tenement Museum in NYC seeking to beg the curator for a job when my phone rang. It was the HR department at another museum asking to set up an interview. I was pen-less. The voice on the other end said, “Who doesn’t carry a pen? Kids these days!” I grabbed the first pen I saw in the gift shop…bright yellow with a liquid top where a little checkered NYC cab floated around. I got the job and still have the pen!

Photo by Ben Fredericson via Flickr.

Photo by Ben Fredericson via Flickr.

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 would move into the Palace of Versailles so that I could play Marie Antoinette. Bouncing through the brocade laden halls, lit on the gilded furniture and mostly play common villager in her makeshift mini village. I would move out before the messy business of the guillotine caught up with me.

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Thanks to Jessica 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.




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