I'm A Museum Person

I’m a Museum Person: Meredith Whitfield

Photo from tonynetone via Flickr.

Photo from tonynetone via Flickr.

My name is Meredith Whitfield, and I’m a Museum Person.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a D.C. transplant, originally from Tennessee. My “real job” is in internet marketing, but I spend a lot of time volunteering at the Folger Shakespeare Library here in D.C. (and cheerleading for it on Twitter). I fell in love with museums while at the Folger, and I’m in the midst of applying to museology graduate programs.

Why do museums matter to you?
Museums serve so many purposes, especially when they’re accessible, community-friendly spaces. They create supplemental and nontraditional learning experiences, they’re an alternative to consumption-based activities, they start conversations, and they connect us to others through objects and stories. I especially love museums that offer many different types of engagement opportunities. When you choose among art, films, artifacts, activities, social events, an online presence, and whatever other assets the institution has created, the more likely you are to find something that resonates with you.

What is your dream museum job?
For a while, I was convinced that I wanted to be Emily Graslie when I grew up, but I think instead I would love to one day invent the position of Chief Access Officer at a historical collection. Wouldn’t it be cool to pile an exhibition into a food truck/bus/trailer/caravan and tour around the area with stops at community events, like The Uni Project does for libraries? The Folger’s First Folio tour program is so inspiring in this way; our folios are visiting all 50 states, dramatically increasing the ability for Shakespeare lovers to visit a folio AND encouraging more people to discover Shakespeare.

A page from the Voynich Manuscript. Photo from Elusive Muse via Flickr.

A page from the Voynich Manuscript. Photo from Elusive Muse via Flickr.

When you think of the perfect exhibition, what is in it?
I don’t care what’s in it, as long as there’s a great story informing it. The Voynich Manuscript visited the Folger recently, and getting to tell a mystery story about an indecipherable code really got people into the object. I also love exhibitions that incorporate an interactive element. It provides a concrete outlet for interpretation and can start interesting conversations among visitors.

What is the most bizarre museum you’ve ever visited?
The National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, MD. It is so worth the trip from D.C. to learn about military history, see how disease affects the human body, and see a row of fetal skeletons. It’s about a mile walk from the metro.

What frustrates you about the way museums operate today? On the flip side, what gives you hope for the future about the way museums operate today?
I’m so thrilled that museums seem to be moving past their more rigid, institutional pasts and are challenging industry standards in creative and interesting ways. It’s been so exciting, as a docent, to help contribute to the way the Folger is thinking about its visitor experience.

I hope one day that all museums will embrace the potential of technology like Cooper-Hewitt has done. Wouldn’t it be great if, for example, your Wikipedia or Google search let you know what artifacts related to your search live at institutions near you? If you could get, for free, the plans to 3D print your own mini Giacometti sculpture at the library? If your public library hosted a book club culminating in a tour of an exhibition curated as a companion to the book?

It’s so rewarding to live in a place where museum are mostly free, and I hope the future sees museums prioritized enough in other cities for this to become a trend. I want to see increased accessibility, exhibitions curated with underserved communities in mind, exhibitions that reflect and inform community trends and sentiments, greater responsiveness, and more FUN.

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Thanks to Meredith for sharing her museum experiences with us. If you, or someone you know, is interested in participating in the “I’m a Museum Person” series, send us an email at editor@museumist.com.

 

 

I'm A Museum Person

I’m A Museum Person: Amy Cotterill

Colchester Castle is just one of the many museums Amy works with. Photo by giborn_134 via Flickr.

Colchester Castle is just one of the many museums Amy works with. Photo by giborn_134 via Flickr.

My name is Amy Cotterill, and I’m a Museum Person.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m the Museum Development Officer for the UK county of Essex. My job is to support all the museums in the county—most of which are volunteer run—with collections care, business sustainability, and audience engagement. I started off studying Ancient History and Archaeology, followed by Cultural Heritage Management, and worked in a variety of learning and engagement roles in different museums before starting my current role last January.

In my spare time, I help run a local branch of the Young Archaeologists Club, volunteer for the Museums Association, the Group for Education in Museums, and the Digital Learning Network. So, you could say I’m a complete museum geek! I do have non-museumy hobbies too: I’m a member of the Women’s Institute, and I love reading, photography, and going to the movies.

You deal with hundreds of museums in your job, whereas most museum professionals deal with just one. Can you share a few insights into how difficult or rewarding that can be?

I cover a pretty big patch, with an astounding variety of museums. The biggest is a Norman castle, which has a team of professional staff and local authority funding. The smallest takes up half a railway carriage. Most of them are local history museums, but I also work with WW1 and WW2 airfields, art collections, a Natural History Museum and even a Pirate Radio Museum! They all have very different needs, including issues with governance and trustee structures, securing funding or even just getting people through the door. I have to know about all different aspects of running a museum (or know who else to ask for advice!) but it’s really rewarding because the role really makes a difference. I’m helping keep museums open and their collections in good condition and available to the public.

Why do museums matter to you?

My previous museum roles have been in community outreach and engagement, so I’ve seen first-hand the difference they can make. I’ve worked with young offenders, teenage asylum seekers, adults with learning disabilities, and children in care—all of whom have lit up when visiting a museum. The collections they hold inspire creativity as well as teaching us about our past and the world around us. Families come together to explore the contents of our glass cases. Museums aren’t just a place for learning; they are a place for fun!

Photo by the lost gallery via Flickr.

Photo by the lost gallery via Flickr.

What is your favorite museum memory?

My favourite childhood museum memory is of the Museum of London’s Great Fire exhibit. You stood in a room with a model of London in front of you, listening to Samuel Pepys’ diary describe what happened. A spark started in the model and slowly the flames spread across the model and onto the walls around you. I was completely enthralled!

My favourite memory as a museum professional is from a project I co-created with a group of young people, developing workshops for younger children. About a year later, one of the participants came to a public workshop I was running and told me he’d applied to study childcare at college because he’d enjoyed working on the project so much.

What museum would you love to visit that you haven’t been to yet?

Can I only pick one? There are so many! The Rijksmuseum, the Louvre, the Smithsonian…but the one that tops the list is The Crime Museum (also known as The Black Museum). It’s the collection of Scotland Yard and is made up of items connected to some of the most chilling crimes in British history. It’s not that I’m ghoulish, it’s just that it’s only open to police officers and even then only by appointment. Not being allowed to see it makes me want to even more.

What is your favorite museum that you have visited so far?

Ruling out all the museums I work with in Essex (you can’t ask me to choose between them!) my favourite is probably the Natural History Museum in Tring. I used to visit on rainy afternoons while I was growing up so it holds a lot of fond memories. It houses some amazing examples of Victorian taxidermy, including Mexican fleas dressed in full sets of clothes—someone actually sewed clothes for fleas!

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

It’s not the subject, but how you present it. My favourite exhibitions have all had clear themes with text panels which presented the information in an understandable way without being patronising—usually with different levels of information so you can either take away the gist or read deeper if you wish. For example, I hate gardening, but really enjoyed my visit to the Garden Museum because they present things so well. However, I’ve seen archaeology exhibitions that I’ve expected to love and found disappointing because there was nothing to connect with non-academic audiences.

Photo from Historic Royal Palaces online store.

Photo from Historic Royal Palaces online store.

What is the most random item you’ve bought in a museum gift shop?

When I was a child, it seemed like all of my friends had wooden rulers that listed the kings and queens of England in chronological order on the back. I really wanted one, but could never convince my parents. Two years ago, I was working for English Heritage as Education Manager for their London properties and spotted these rulers in the gift shop of Wellington’s House and couldn’t resist.

What museum would you move into for a month if you could?

Eltham Palace in Greenwich. It was given to Edward II in 1305 and was a royal residence through to the 16th Century. Henry VIII spent much of his childhood there and the Tudor courts often used it for their Christmas celebrations. However, it fell into disuse and ruin. In the 1930s a new house was built incorporating much of the original building including the Great Hall. It has the most beautiful Art Deco interiors. It’s just fabulous!

What’s the most bizarre museum you’ve ever visited?

Lumina Domestica (The Lamp Museum) in Bruges. My husband and I visited last year while we were on holiday because we could get a joint ticket with the Chocolate Museum and the Frites Museum. It was actually really interesting, telling the story of man-made lighting through the centuries. I would definitely recommend a visit if you get the chance!

Photo by JD Hancock via Flickr.

Photo by JD Hancock via Flickr.

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

I could try and come up with a really intellectual answer for this, but if I’m honest it’s Ghostbusters 2. We’ve all seen portraits that look like they’ve got an evil being trapped inside waiting to escape. Plus, it has the Statue of Liberty dancing through the streets of New York—what’s not to love?

What angers/upsets/frustrates you about the way museums operate today? On the flip side, what pleases/amuses/gives you hope for the future about the way museums operate today?

People have donated objects to public museums in the belief that they’ll be looked after by professionals and enjoyed by future generations, so it upsets me when funding is cut to the point where museums aren’t able to properly care for their collections or stay open. When councils sell off museum objects to plug gaps in other parts of their budget, they’re betraying not only the original donor but everyone who’s invested in that museum through their taxes or donations.

However, there is much to give us hope for UK museums. Every week, I meet museum staff and volunteers who love what they do and have so much passion for their collections. The Museums Association’s publication Museums Change Lives illustrates the hard work museums of all sizes are doing to make a difference in their local communities.

I'm A Museum Person

All It Takes is a Little Heartwork

As a 16 year old, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. Granted, now that I am all grown up, my life path is no less clear, but it is nevertheless refreshing to meet a teenager with a passion and the ambition to pursue it. A few weeks ago, I was introduced to one of these rare specimens: Emily from Pennsylvania, who has taken her love of art history and created a blog called Heartwork. Read on to learn more about the inspiration behind Heartwork and about Emily’s hopes for the future…

Photo by Josh Staiger via Flickr.

Tell us how you became interested in art history?

When I was a kindergartener, my teacher introduced the class to Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night. As part of the lesson, my classmates and I each made our own renditions of the Post-Impressionist masterpiece.

I was hooked. Five-year-old me successfully begged my parents to take me to see The Starry Night in person at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City—no small request given that we live near Philadelphia! Art history has been my passion ever since.

You have a blog, Heartwork, on which you discuss your adventures in art history. What are your plans and hopes for the blog? Do you have a dream interview that you would like to conduct?

Heartwork indeed follows my adventures in art history, from staging picture re-creations to baking edible artwork to visiting museums and more. I have some fun posts planned for the future! While I have not yet conducted interviews for the blog, I think that is a wonderful idea – it would be particularly interesting to talk to a museum curator or an art history author.

My great hope is that other art history buffs submit their own creative art history projects to Heartwork. If people make their own picture re-creations, edible artwork, or other projects and then email pictures to emilybz@comcast.net, I would be thrilled to post their work on the blog.

Emily and her brother recreate American Gothic.

On your blog, you often stage picture reproductions (like Whistler’s Mother and American Gothic), do you have a dream painting that you would like to reproduce?

So far, I have re-created Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Want, James McNeill Whistler’s Whistler’s Mother, and Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. Which re-creations I stage are dictated by the costumes, props, settings, and numbers of people that I have available, so it is fun to think about what paintings I would re-create without these limitations!

I would love to re-create Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. If I could gather a large group of people, it would also be a ball to stage Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party and Georges Seurat’s Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte!

As an art history buff, do you feel that knowing the story behind a work of art or its art historical context is an integral element in appreciating that work of art? Can you give us an example of a particular artwork that you appreciated more or less once you learned about its story or context?

I absolutely believe that these factors are crucial for a viewer to fully understand a piece. From my own experience, my appreciation of artwork increased after I took AP Art History last year and learned about the stories and art historical contexts behind works of art.

On a related note, Heartwork’s message is that art history is more entertaining for people when they make their own connections with artwork. For example, after creating a version of The Starry Night in cupcakes or re-creating Whistler’s Mother, I found new meaning and delight in these paintings.

So, you’re still a teenager…any dreams of working in museums one day?

I would love to work in museums one day! This summer, I got my feet wet in the museum world by serving as a one-day shadow at the National Portrait Gallery, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

I also was delighted to volunteer at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology’s summer camp. Through all of these experiences, I greatly enjoyed meeting museum staff members and getting a behind-the-scenes peek at what it takes to run a museum.

Photo by kimadababe via Flickr.

Are there any art history-related books that you particularly like or would recommend to others interested in the field?

I wholeheartedly recommend Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. For the younger set, I adored Art Fraud Detective: Spot the Difference, Solve the Crime! by Anna Nilsen when I was a kindergartener. I have fond memories of reading it with my family, and I lovingly called it “Art Frog.”

It would also be a dream come true to write my own art history-inspired novels one day. As both an art history enthusiast and an avid writer, I wrote Once Upon a Masterpiece: An Art History Adventure, a storybook designed to introduce young children to the joys of art history. To help save the arts in schools that are facing budget cuts, I donated copies of the book to dozens of elementary schools in the School District of Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

I'm A Museum Person

I’m A Museum Person: Rusty Baker

 

Photo by JD Hancock via Flickr.

My name is Rusty Baker, and I’m a Museum Person.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Like I always tell people who ask how I got into this, I had just graduated with a B.A. in English and a Pennsylvania Teaching Certificate in 1990, so naturally I was unemployed looking for work when I got a job offer from a friend’s dad to come work for his art gallery. That would be the beginning of a what has been a great journey from a commercial gallery to an art auction company outside of Philadelphia, to a job as a small art museum’s Director of Operations. A huge door opened for me when I moved from that position to Acting Director, spent a year convincing a sometimes insane board of directors I might be Director material, then was named Executive Director. After that position, I spent a small stint with one of the nation’s largest art shipping and handling companies, and then I relocated and joined Pennsylvania’s statewide museum association as the Marketing and Membership Guy. I was invited to become the Executive Director back in April when our organization restructured.

Why do museums matter to you?

Museums are magical places. We tend to feel forced to defend museums, to do research, to gather together ideas that somehow justify our existence. No one asks a car mechanic to do these things. The very word museum bears witness to the reason there are museums. Museums exist because they matter. It is wonderful that museums are an economic generator in communities. I am excited there are so many discoveries and stories that noodle out of art and objects and experiences with them. Real learning, whether you can test to it or not, comes in museums. Since I am a museum guy, the jobs created by this industry (and it is an industry) obviously determine whether there is food on my table. All of these reasons seem empty to me, just another Gen X whine I can bleat out. It is the magic of museums, the unspoken wonder of them, that really does it for me. I am certain I share this with other museum people. Museums are complex institutions, but once you get it, like tuberculosis, you can’t “unget” it.

What is your favorite museum memory?

(Editors note: Rusty really wanted to include two stories, but I liked his first one so much, I decided to let it stand on its own. If you want to hear more museum memories from Rusty, chat with him on Twitter at @rustybaker647.)

My first marriage was disintegrating, and I was working on an installation or just about anything else at work for twelve or fourteen hours a day. The curator had put together an amazing small exhibit of work that dealt with identity, and I was truly fighting a lot of demons at the time. We installed a small light bulb piece, two spooned bulbs by Felix Gonzalez Torres. We talked about what we would do if one of the bulbs burnt out.

“We leave it that way,” the curator said.

“We leave it that way?” I echoed.

“Sometimes love dies,” he said.

What museum would you love to visit?

This is a tough one. There are so many museums! Pennsylvania has something like 1,000 of them, and I haven’t seen them all. If the sky is the limit, I’d love to visit the Imperial War Museum, LA MOCA, and the Harley Davidson Museum.

Photo by mediafury via Flickr.

What is your dream museum job?

Being a curator is the dream museum job. Everyone wants to be a curator, don’t they? I’ve done it, and when it goes well, it is like hitting home runs one after another. You just hope someone in the stands cheers, too.

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

I’ve seen a few exhibits that were almost perfect, and I was completely blown away by the Carnegie International in 1999, still think about it all the time. I talk about it when I have captive listeners.

The perfect exhibit, no matter what is in it, art or historical objects, is an organic thing. It should appear effortless, and it shouldn’t make a visitor work too hard for the payoff. Great exhibitions look like they grew from seed in a space. They were always there, and they will always be there.

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

I lack the shopping gene, but I am sort of compulsive about Peanut M & M’s. I’ve bought those in gift shops.

What museum would you move into for a month if you could?

I’d do that at any motorcycle museum that let me ride the bikes to make sure they were all in good working condition.

I used to work crazy long hours, and I feel like I already spent a month straight in a museum. I don’t mean that to sound as if I am some kind of silver back gorilla beating his chest. From my point of view, the more time you spend with museums or museum objects, the deeper the impact they have on you. You might listen to a popular song you like over and over again. You re-read a book you liked while you are at the beach on vacation. You saw Star Wars seven times in 1979. You don’t need to go to extremes, but it will be better the second time around.

Tom Sokolowski once spoke about a survey of visitors to the Andy Warhol Museum. They answered they had definitely liked the museum. They answered no to “Do you plan to return?” Tom was outraged by this, and he asked. “Did you have sex? Yes. Did you like it? Yes!! Are you going to do it again? NO!!!!” This was funny as hell to hear, put this way, in a more common denominator.

My feelings about A Month at the Museum are fairly complicated, but museums are, too. A thirty day stay, as a stunt or a job, only brushes the surface of what these places are.

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

The Philadelphia Museum of Art stands out for me. I have been there a lot of times, and I think that accounts for something.  I now have my favorite things to go see at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, so my time is focused on the seven or eight works I really want to spend time with. They are old friends, these things. Ghost, that big Calder right in the entrance, that’s one of them. I love that Calder. I sometimes blow really hard and hope it moves. It never does.

Photo by joyosity via Flickr.

What is the most bizarre museum you have visited?

I visited The Barnes Foundation maybe eight years ago, and that will be the story I tell my grand children. What a strange place! What a strange story! What strange stuff!

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

The first Night At The Museum probably captured what I have referred to as “the magic” about museums better than most. I am also an Indiana Jones fan, and having delivered crates to the Smithsonian’s vast storage site, I have a special appreciation for The Lost Ark. I would tell you I saw it, but that wouldn’t be true.

I'm A Museum Person

I’m A Museum Person: Adam Rozan

Photo by zigazou76 via Flickr.

My name is Adam Reed Rozan, and I’m a Museum Person.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a Marketing Manager at the amazing Oakland Museum of California (OMCA). I have the honor of living and breathing art on a daily basis. But that’s only part of the story. I live in San Francisco and I’m highly involved with the arts community in the Bay Area. I run an arts project called Broken Meter. It’s a full-color, full-bleed ’zine and a celebration of city life—more specifically, urban decay. I think of it as a visual recording of the activity, movement, and energy of the urban environment.

Broken Meter is the misspelled sign, the street preacher, the converted U-Haul cardboard trucks, recycled cans and bottles, the graffiti tag, the covered-up graffiti tagged, the re-tagging of the original piece. In short, it’s everything you’ll find in a natural urban environment seen through the eyes of artists.

Why do museums matter to you?

Museums are special places. They provide a connection with our past and our future. They are the keepers of our culture, and the intersection where we come to share ideas, talk, play, and dream.

What is your favorite museum memory?

When OMCA reopened in April, we hosted an online statewide conversation on California. It was held during the reopening party, and the social media staff members from all of the Bay Area museums as well as the Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra joined in. We even had museums from as far away as Berkley and Los Angeles contribute. Through the shared hashtag #California we were able to cultivate a conversation between these institutions and thousands of online participants. It was a very powerful experience to be able to connect so many people.

Photo by Loren Javier via Flickr.

Which museum would you love to visit?

My next trip is a weekend in Houston, so certainly the Rothko Chapel. I’ve never been there, but it’s been recommended to me as a place of deep reflection and inspiration. Another museum high on my list is the Menil Collection—not only do the outdoor gardens look amazing, I would love to see the installation of rarely exhibited canvases by Mark Rothko that are closely related to those he painted for the chapel.

Photo by M Glasgow via Flickr.

Outside of that, any opportunity I have to go back to London or Paris to see those cities great museums would be amazing.

I do have a rule for any trip I take. It’s my goal to visit a new museum—especially if I’ve never been to that city or town. With every new visit, I discover something to build out my visual library. It’s a priceless experience.

What is your dream museum job?

My dream job is the Curator of Audience Development and Engagement. It’s an integrated position that strives to increase participation and interactivity with the exhibitions and permanent collection, both in person and online. Museum staff members need to find new ways to engage visitors, and transition our institutions into an active, regular presence in the lives of our audiences. Call it a museum 3.0 approach—the position and the person in it should evolve continuously, something the museum experience is doing already. My dream role takes all of these factors into consideration and seeks out alternative inroads to collections, exhibitions, and museums themselves; ultimately the Curator of Audience Development and Engagement opens up new, innovative experiences that visitors can have in a museum.

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

Instead of a perfect exhibit, why not consider a perfect gallery or overall museum experience? Live music in the galleries in the afternoon, adult backpacks with supplies, coffee and Wi-Fi areas, book clubs, yoga … I guess what would make for a perfect experience overall is one that was lively—not whispering in a gallery where you can hear a pin drop.

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

The answer is option C, the tweets from our Gallery Guides. They’re really funny. Our in gallery staff members use iPads all day at work, so they also tweet through the @oaklandmuseumca handle. Their wit makes them worth checking out.

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

Does a metal cowboy pin from the VMFA store count?

What museum would you move into for a month if you could?

I remember reading a children’s story in grade school about a group of friends who ran away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, so I would have to say the Met.

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

Great question, but one that’s very tough to answer. I’ve had so many amazing museum experiences at so many different museums that I’m not sure I could answer that definitively. I can say that I always look forward to going to a new museum, and the opportunity to go back to one that I haven’t visited in a while, especially if it’s a trip with good friends.

What is the most bizarre museum you have ever visited?

Bizarre in what way? I live in San Francisco! On Market Street, near the Civic Center is an enormous storefront window with what seems to be an odd movie display for some lost or ancient land. The sign says “Superb Art Museum of America,” and is formed in foam rocks. You can’t visit the museum, but I imagine that it’s pretty bizarre.

Photo by frontenddeveloper via Flickr.

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

The Thomas Crown Affair, but really any movie that set in a museum, I’ll go to.

I'm A Museum Person

I’m A Museum Person: Betty Brennan

Photo via Wikipedia.

My name is Betty Brennan, and I’m a Museum Person.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I own a planning, design/build exhibit company called Taylor Studios, Inc.  I’m an entrepreneur.  I started the company in a garage and renovated chicken coop.  Twenty years later Taylor Studios has over 300 projects in museums, nature centers, universities, visitor centers, corporate lobbies and anywhere a unique story needs to be told.  I also a humorous, farm girl, horse lover, animal enthusiast, nature admirer, traveler, goal setter, business player sort of girl.

Why do museums matter to you?

From a straight forward point of view, they matter because they support the business and my staff.  Beyond that, we love museums.  They tell the stories of our past, they preserve our history, they can transform you to another time and place, they can touch your soul, they teach, they inform, they are fun, they inspire, they increase knowledge, they are a window to nature, they envision the future, they are places of discovery and the human experience.  If through our exhibits we can touch someone’s urge to know, love or acknowledge the content we have in a ways improved humanity.  With knowledge comes appreciation and sometimes action.  Museums add this richness to people’s lives.  They can brighten our world of understanding.  What a grand thing!

What is your favorite museum memory?

We stopped by the Roswell UFO Museum.  I read a copy panel I have never forgotten.  It went something like this, “we were buck naked in the back of my pick up truck when all hell broke loose.”  I like to say it with emphasis.  Now that copy tells an unforgettable story.  It’s the best copy ever.  I’m still laughing when I type this.  Sometimes humanity needs to lighten up and laugh.  Museums can do that too.

Photo by Jeff Kubina via Flickr.

What museum would you love to visit?

I have been to hundreds of museums.  It’s what I do.  I don’t have a particular one in mind that I must see.  My favorite time period is the Pleistocene.  So, I’ve always intended to visit the La Brea Tar Pits.  I have been to that area of the country many times and have never stopped there.  I would love to continue visiting museums every chance I get.

What is your dream museum job?

I have it.  To own a company that has 20 projects going at one time is quite amazing.  In any one day you could learn about trains, the civil war, prairies, African-American history, a particular fort, a particular time period, etc.

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

It’s an exhibit that inspires and engages the visitor.  It provides something more than a book, the history channel or the classroom.  The content is well organized, relevant, thematic and has a point of view.  There is an easy flow.  The copy is concise and poignant.  There are more visuals than words.  The visuals are a variety of media: graphics, photographs, 3D objects, immersive environments and A/V.  If I had a pleasant experience and walked away from the exhibit with a different point of view, new knowledge and the desire to learn or do more, then it is perfect.

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

I’ll go with NatHistoryWhale.  I mean whales are probably genetically prone to being more funny than a T-Rex.  Check out our tweets @TSIExhibits.  We are really pithy.

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

I buy a lot of museum magnets.  They are all over my fridge.

Magnet Collections Come in All Shapes and Sizes. Photo by Photocapy via Flickr.

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

The EMP is in Seattle.  The rest would be a guess or Google search.  I guess I have a lot more museums to go see.

What museum would you move into for a month if you could?

I recently visited Paris and am tempted to say the Louvre given its size.  I could certainly find something new to learn every day.  However, I have a special place in my heart for Natural History museums.  Since, I have never been to London and their Natural History Museum is vast,  I will pick that one.

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

The Field Museum in Chicago.

What is the most bizarre museum you have ever visited?

The Thing in Arizona.  Oh, my gosh all those billboards on the empty desert road eventually suck you into visiting this museum.  I remember the billboards more than the museum. Another all time favorite is The House on The Rock in Wisconsin.  This crazy experience is definitely worth the trip.  I think I recall Santa on a surfboard being chased by a life-sized whale.  You can’t beat that with a stick.

Scenes from the House on the Rock. Photo by ChrisL_AK via Flickr.

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Thanks to Betty 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.

I'm A Museum Person

I’m A Museum Person: SUE the T-Rex

Quite possibly the coolest T-Rex that ever roamed the earth.

My name is Specimen FMNH PR2081, and I’m a Museum Person.

Tell us about yourself.

Well, I’m a Tyrannosaurus rex who roamed the upper portion of the North American continent back when it was a tropical paradise (around the late Cretaceous). I lived to be 29 (old for my species), until I passed away. Scientists debate if this was caused by old age, arthritic gout, or some strange infection, but I like to tell everyone “Meteor Strike” because it sounds cool, and I’m trying to raise awareness of things falling from the sky, which is my greatest fear. After my passing, I was covered in sediment, gradually fossilized over the course of millions of years, trapped under glaciers during the ice age, and eventually discovered by my most favoritest mammals of all time: Sue Hendrickson and her dog Gypsy while they were waiting for their team to fix a flat tire. There was a bunch of other stuff that happened, and next thing I know, I’m here at The Field Museum in Chicago.

Why do museums matter to you?

I live in one! And I have twins that travel to several others on my never-ending world tour!

But if I could get serious for a second Ms. Museumist (can I call you “Mew”?) museums are important because you puny humans are always discovering new and exciting things about the past, how it relates to the present, and how you can apply this knowledge for the future. It’s easy to just slap up a blog post about something, tweet a short thing and hope someone will find it interesting, or even print it on a fancy glossy page in a book or a magazine, but it’s not until you come face to face with something, for instance history’s greatest and most beautiful apex predator (cough), that you really begin to appreciate it.

And another thing that makes it special to be here at The Field Museum: These folks aren’t just about helping the people who come in our doors learn something new, they also send scientists out into the field to explore the planet, and find news things humans didn’t know about before. As a dinosaur with a cantaloupe sized brain, I’m jealous

What is your favorite museum memory?

That’s easy. My Field Museum unveiling in May 2000.

What is your dream museum job?

I already got it. Sorry. (fist pump)

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

My 10th anniversary at The Field Museum was pretty sweet. Maybe for the 20th, we can clone me and have everyone get T.rex rides around Chicago. Wait, on second thought, I would probably not like that. Plus, I’m prone to “rampages.”

Photo by Bert Kaufmann via Flickr.

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

Is this some sort of joke? I love @NatHistoryWhale! Why are you trying to get us mad at each other? He’s just sitting up there, minding his own business, softly singing whale songs. Why do you have to make this competitive? Besides, I don’t like seafood. Grew up in South Dakota. Not a place to develop a taste for “whale.”

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

This package of green beans from The Field Museum store. LOL! I’m a carnivore! What am I going to do with BEANS! Hahaha!

(deep breath)

Enough joking around. Where’s my order of ribs for lunch?

Photo by thebittenword.com via Flickr.

To test your museum knowledge, which cities are the following museums in?

  • The High Museum of Art – Inside the basket of a hot air balloon?
  • The Experience Music Project – Let’s see… Jimi Hendrix made “Are You Experienced?” and he’s from Seattle, so… Seattle? I hope they have a big Sir Mix-A-Lot exhibit. He’s from Seattle too.
  • Musee de la Civilasation – Oh, I loved that video game “Civilization!” It must be huge in France! Or Quebec. Or maybe New Orleans? Where else do people speak French… and love classic turn based strategy games?
  • Courtauld Gallery – This sounds like a place those snooty Velociraptors would go to. (Shakes fist) Oh, Velociraptors! They think they’re just the bee’s knees because they’re smart and can open doorknobs!
  • Kuntskammer – I would pay good money to hear a hadrosaur pronounce this. It would probably sound like Donald Duck burnt the roof of his mouth eating chili.

What museum would you move into for a month if you could?

Besides this one? Um, maybe the aforementioned (and totally imaginary) Museum of Meat? I would spend AT LEAST three hours in the “Hall of Bacon.”

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

If I was forced to choose anything besides The Field Museum? There’s so many of them. Costa Rica was nice. The Scientific Center in Kuwait City was really friendly. And I can’t tell you how accommodating the folks at the Nova Scotia Museum have been these last couple of months. But my homecoming visit to the Faith Community Center on Highway 212 in Faith, SD in 2008 was very special.

What is the most bizarre museum you have ever visited?

In just the last couple of years, I’ve had to play host to pirates, baby mammoths, the White Sox World Series trophy, and lately, horses—what I’m saying is The Field Museum can get bizarre enough. But in my adopted home city of Chicago alone, we’ve got museums for historical medical equipment and holography. Plenty of bizarre to go around.

Photo by puroticorico via Flickr.

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Thanks to SUE 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.

I'm A Museum Person

I’m A Museum Person: Shiloh Aderhold

Photo by blhphotography via Flickr.

My name is Shiloh Aderhold, and I’m a Museum Person.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am currently an art history and museum studies M.A. student at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I’ve been involved with museums for over five years, wearing many hats—visitor services, curatorial/collections and interpretation. Most of my experience is with historic house museums, specifically those of Frank Lloyd Wright. I currently intern in the curatorial department at the MCA in Chicago, and this summer I will be working at the Chicago Botanic Garden assisting with program interpretation and volunteer management.

Why do museums matter to you?

Museums are laboratories of culture that provide personal connections to both tangible objects and abstract ideas. They are a place to establish a forum for knowledge, create relationships, and share ideas and experiences. It’s important to have places that do this.

What is your favorite museum memory?

When I was studying in Barcelona several years ago, I went to an exhibition at MACBA— this was one of my first exposures to contemporary art. The Janet Cardiff and Georges Bures Miller exhibition was up. How their installations consume all behaviors of the museum visitors is impactful. It changed my ideas of what art can be. It was amazing, very visceral.

Photo by visual panic via Flickr.

What museum would you love to visit?

The Brooklyn Museum. I always seemed to miss this one when I’m in New York. But, it’s on my list for the next trip. I love their involvement with technology/social media and how they incorporate it into their collection, exhibitions, and programs. Plus, Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party.

What is your dream museum job?

Anything where I am able to be knee-deep in the collection: physically or conceptually.

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

Interaction and stimulation. Physical or intellectual.

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

I like Sue’s sense of humor. Plus, I live in Chicago, so I have to represent.

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

A tape measure featuring the designs of Wright’s Coonley windows. It was a father’s day gift.

To test your museum knowledge, what cities are the following museums in?

  • The High Museum of Art- Atlanta! I went to high school outside of Atlanta. This museum was very formative in developing my passion for art and art interpretation.
  • The Experience Music Project- Seattle. This was a question on Jeopardy a few weeks ago.
  • Musee de la Civilisation- Paris, some where in France? Or Canada!?
  • The Courtauld Gallery – London
  • The Kuntskammer – St. Petersburg

Photo by sapoague via Flickr.

What museum would you move into for a month if you could?

Probably the Isabella Stewart Garner Museum. Or any house museum, really. It would be amazing to be transplanted into the life and history of someone else. Plus, there will probably be beds there, ha.

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

I think Calatrava’s Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias is pretty amazing. The architecture is a museum within itself. The science museum and aquarium are excellent spaces.

Photo by KA13 via Flickr.

What is the most bizarre museum you have visited?

Museum of Death in L.A.

There seem to be a million books and movies set in museums. Which one is your favorite?

You get to see the highlights of the Art Institute of Chicago in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which is awesome. It also demonstrates different museum experiences, such as the children running through the gallery and personally relating to art. Its a little cheesy, but I like it.

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Thanks to Shiloh 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.

 

I'm A Museum Person

I’m A Museum Person: Steve Slack

The British Museum. Photo by gualtiero via Flickr.

My name is Steve Slack, and I’m a Museum Person.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a writer, based in London. I write for museums and about museums. I can mostly be found in a museum or in the bar. Or in a museums that have bars.

After about ten years of working on museum exhibitions, I broke free and now work on my own as a freelance writer, researcher, curator and whimsical thinker. I drink a lot of tea and I like cricket. Yep, I’m British.

Why do museums matter to you?

Take a moment to look back over the millennia of human existence at all the amazing things we humans have achieved as a species: fire, wheels, agriculture, money, government, public art. We’ve even put a man on the moon and figured out how to wrap cheese in red wax. 

Doesn’t it appear strange that for some reason we’ve also ended up setting aside special buildings where we collect things together, put them in glass boxes and then invite people to come view them?

Maybe we’re just naturally hoarders. Maybe we’re scared of forgetting about where we’ve come from. Maybe we’re proud of all the amazing things we’ve achieved. Or maybe we like to root ourselves in time and place – establish ourselves in history for future generations to discover.

It seems to me that museums are incredibly useful time capsules. Today we look at Victorian museums almost as museum objects in themselves – they can tell us a lot about how people interpreted the past, in the past. And in years to come, the museologists of the future will look back at the museums of the first decade of the 21st century and regard our modern art, touch screens, education suites and incessant tweeting through rose-tinted spectacles. So for me, museums are about the past, but they’re also about the future.

What is your favorite museum memory?

I saw Lindow Man on display in Manchester in 1987 – creeping up to the display case where the bog body was laid out was like a magical, almost mystical, experience for me. As a child I was quite apprehensive, but completely drawn in by the body. Even though I’ve surely forgotten many of the details of exactly how it was displayed I remember being fascinated by the fact that a human body had survived so long. Lindow Man had only come out of the ground a few years before, but it transported many people 2000 years back in time.

That stayed with me for many years and then, 20 years later when I was working at the British Museum, I ended up working on the re-display of Lindow Man. After a recent tour of the UK, he’s back on display at the BM in Gallery 50.

What museum would you love to visit?

There are some amazing museums in the world, but there are also some fabulous places opening right now.

I’d love to go and see the newly laid out National Museum of China in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. I’m also really looking forward to the new Riverside Museum in Glasgow (a little closer to home, so more easy for visiting.)

And in a few years time there will be a whole host of new museums in the UAE that I’m sure will be worth the visit.

Scene from Beijing. Photo by Francisco Diez via Flickr.

What is your dream museum job?

I know it sounds cheesy – and I suppose I judge people who say it – but I genuinely think I have the best job in the world.

I currently run a solo operation, but perhaps one day I’ll be a museum guru with a string of books behind me and minions under me. Right now though, I’m pretty happy with where I am. I get to pick and choose what projects I work on –curating exhibitions, writing audio guides, undertaking research projects.

I’m about to publish a second book with Museum [Insider], the online magazine for suppliers to museums and heritage venues in the UK. I’ve also done some TV work recently and I’d like to do more of that in the future.

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

I’m not sure there is a perfect exhibit. Just like there’s no one perfect book, movie or menu. I realised a few years ago that no exhibit can ever be all things to all people. And the museum-going public are rather picky, so pleasing them is rather a challenge.

Exhibitions that work well for me are all about balance. Whenever we’re putting an exhibition together we’re weighing up a seemingly endless number of variants – lots of text that explains the story well or less text that more people are likely to read? lots of objects to give a sense of breadth or only a few to make people look? how many computer interactives? what shade of pale grey will we paint the walls? how much light can we put on the objects? how much seating will there be?

As interpreters and designers, if we can strike the balance well and get the story we’re trying to tell across to the visitor then that’s our job done. I think it’s also important that exhibitions continue to push boundaries, so when I go to a museum I’m particularly impressed if I see a new display technique that isn’t necessarily from the collection of display set pieces we’re used to. Write text on the floor; project images through a tank of water; create a soundscape. Make me stand back and think.

And while I like an exhibit that is intellectually robust, I also love a sense of humour.

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

Sue is hilarious. What a great idea to have a museum object tweet. I’d love to see the Walrus at the @HornimanMuseum tweet sometimes. I’m sure he’d say wonderful things.

The Walrus at the Horniman Museum. Photo by russelljsmith.

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

I was quite proud of the ash tray in the shape of Mao Tse-Tung I got from the Forbidden City in Beijing. Ironic, as Mao was a keen smoker. But it got broken, alas.

A few weeks ago I got a particularly ugly fridge magnet from the National Museum of Art and Culture in Minsk, Belarus.

To test your museum knowledge, what cities are the following museums in?

  • The High Museum of Art – Atlanta, I think?
  • The Experience Music Project – no idea!
  • Musee de la Civilisation – hmmm, I have a hunch it’s Canada, so I suppose if it’s French, then Quebec?
  • Courtauld Gallery – right here in London
  • Kuntskammer – Berlin. (Oh no, I just looked it up, it’s in St Petersburg. It sounds German, no?)

Huh, I thought I was pretty good at geography. Guess I need to hit the books again on museums of the world.

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 Hermitage is massive. I don’t think I even stepped foot in half of the rooms in the palace in one day, so I’d love to go back and see more of it. And if I was in St Petersburg, I’d go and check out the Kunstkammer and find out what on earth it is.

I figure it’d get pretty scary at night in most museums though. Maybe I need somewhere more comforting – I know a really good couch in the V&A in London that’s good for a mid-afternoon snooze, so perhaps I’ll just go there.

The Hermitage. Photo by Anatolly Prutz via Flickr.

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

The Vasa Museum in Sweden is pretty amazing. It’s a massive ship which sank on its maiden voyage in 1628, before it had even left Stockholm harbour. But the entire thing – or what’s left of it – was raised in the 1960s. The body of the ship takes up most of the space in the building and the various floors of the museum are at the different deck levels – right up to the crow’s nest. It’s a story about personal pride, museum conservation and loading ballast – things we could all do with knowing a bit more about.

What is the most bizarre museum you have visited?

The Museum of Jurassic Technology is Los Angeles is one of the most peculiar museums I’ve visited. The strange and spectacular come together with the bonkers and bizarre here. Don’t try to understand it – just go with the flow.

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

I love it that Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes) insists on making repeat visits to the museum to see the dinosaurs. I imagine @SuetheTrex in the Field Museum would be delighted to see him creeping around the place doing an impression of the T-Rex.

Photo by Unlisted Sightings via Flickr.

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Thanks to Steve for sharing his 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm A Museum Person

I’m A Museum Person: Bob Beatty

A View from Gettysburg. Photo by soaptree via Flickr.

My name is Bob Beatty, and I’m a Museum Person.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve been “history geek” since elementary school. It is a mantle I wear proudly and one that was confirmed in various family vacation photos I recently looked through. There are images of me in costume in an old time photo booth, standing by cannons at various sites, and looking at the Gettysburg statue of General John Buford, an ancestor. Our vacations could be tracked in the family station wagon trips we made from south Florida through the Southeast and up the Eastern Seaboard. We took trips to St. Augustine, Savannah, Charleston, Richmond, the Civil War battlefields in and around Northern Virginia, and to Gettysburg. We visited forts, antebellum homes, battlefields, just about anything historic that I had found in some random guidebook or had seen on one of the brown signs by the highway (you follow the brown signs too, right?). I developed a very deep and personal connection to historic sites through these visits and a love for not only the sites and artifacts, but for museums and cultural institutions as a whole. I felt a connection to the history I so loved to read in books that continues in me to this very day.

I am currently Vice President for Programs for the American Association for State & Local History. My primary responsibility is to direct AASLH’s professional development program including onsite/online workshops, the annual meeting, affinity groups, and publications. Prior AASLH, I was Curator of Education at the Orange County (FL) Regional History Center.

I have a B.A. in Liberal Studies (I usually say my major was “college”) and an M.A. in History in 2002 both from the University of Central Florida. I’ve been an adjunct instructor of American History at the university and community college level, including teaching a History of Rock & Roll course at the latter.

State and local history is one of my particular interests as I truly believe that the discovery of local heritage helps in the building of a strong community. This is reinforced by my work at AASLH, the History Center, and research for my thesis, “Legacy to the People: Community and the Orange County Regional History Center,” which examined the ideal of community service and in the context of the history of the American museum movement. I’m also the author of Florida’s Highwaymen: Legendary Landscapes about a group of African American artists in Florida in the mid-to-late 20th century.

Why do museums matter to you?

I think museums are positively critical to the country and to their communities. What I learned in doing my graduate research is that this is the historic function of the American museum, to provide an essential community service (this was/is distinct from prior museums worldwide which were for much more elite audiences). This was also early in my museum career so it was really inspiring to know that I was literally standing on the shoulders of giants (my hero Charles Willson Peale, John Cotton Dana, Theodore Low, and the authors of Excellence and Equity), that the work I was doing was important and did matter in the overall grand scheme of things. In fact, one of the talks I give is called “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” and looks at the history of the American museum movement vis-à-vis community service.

Museums are a place where not only our heritage is preserved, but also a place for reflection and for connection to our own pasts, but also to our present and future. I am working hard to make sure my own children catch the bug as well.

What is your favorite museum memory?

I have several. One is going to Gettysburg with my father on a summer vacation. He and I drove from western North Carolina all the way to Gettysburg, and took a tour with an NPS guide in the car. That was awesome for a seventh grader (as was taking a photo at the statue of my ancestor General John Buford)!

One that really stuck with me, though not at a museum, came during a trip to Florida Caverns State Park (if memory serves). The caverns were lit, emphasizing the beauty of the natural formations. As we toured, our guide implored us not to touch anything. “You’ll have the chance at the end of the tour.” And have our chance we did. At the end, there was one stalagmite/stalactite formation that had grown together into a single column (I’ve since forgotten what that’s called, I got a “C” in geology in college). The guide encouraged us to touch it. It was black and disgusting. This taught me a lesson that has remained with me for almost 30 years now. Without careful care or handling, our precious past would cease to exist or become sullied and almost unrecognizable.

Another was two trips probably 10 years apart to Drayton Hall that I referenced in a guest blog post for them awhile back (http://draytonhall.wordpress.com/2009/10/28/432/). In the 1980s, I visited Drayton Hall in South Carolina for the first time. I remember initially being unimpressed by its bare-bones interpretation. I was so used to antebellum homes dressed out in all their finery that Drayton Hall’s interpretation and emphasis on historic preservation was initially lost on me. But after spending an afternoon there in the early 90s, I was hooked by what they were doing. I recognized that history doesn’t have to be gussied up to be interesting or to convey something important about the past, an idea I have carried with me philosophically ever since.   And to this day, I still covet the rice spoon that my mother got on that visit!

The last two are from my own career when the History Center held an exhibition of the original manuscript scroll of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road (Kerouac was living in Orlando when the book was published) and another time when Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth of Birmingham and a true hero of the Civil Rights Movement, spoke at the museum for a 50th anniversary commemoration of the Brown v Board decision. I literally choked up introducing Rev. Shuttlesworth. I consider both highlights of my museum career.

Drayton Hall. Photo by BlackburnPhoto via Flickr.

What museum would you love to visit?

As for the biggies, probably the British Museum because of its role in the history of our field. (When I was in London I didn’t make it there and I still regret it to this day!) If I could travel back in time it’d be Charles Willson Peale’s original museum in Philadelphia again because it has such special meaning in my own career and in our field.

For current museums, I’ve yet to visit the Big House Museum in Macon, GA, since it opened as a full-fledged museum about my beloved Allman Brothers Band and I have yet to visit the Experience Music Project and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. And I really want to see the National WWI Museum and also the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, both in Kansas City.

What is your dream museum job?

I could probably say I have it now, engaging with so many tremendous history and museum professionals across the country on a daily basis. That is a very cool part of my job. But as for a true “museum” job, it’d probably have something to do with music or music history. I am a music geek as much as a history geek so combining those two I’d be in heaven!

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

Fantastic artifacts that move a story along are always crucial to me. I like lots and lots and lots of artifacts, visually that is so engaging to me. Many years ago when I attended the AAM conference in St. Louis, their exhibit on St. Louis in the 1950s (I believe) really sucked me in. I particularly remember a typical suburban living room scene with the TV, chairs (I think), coonskin cap, etc. I loved it. I also love exhibits that make me recall a certain time or place. The entire Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY, is like that for me. (Hard not to be with all those toys!). For subjects that are a bit more complex, I like well-written exhibit labels and photos, but always like the story to relate to the objects. But simplicity and “place” can also make a perfect exhibit. I loved the Restoration Room at James Madison’s Montpelier and the interpretation of President Lincoln’s Cottage in DC.

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

I’m embarrassed that I don’t have an answer to this one. I usually gravitate toward books or Christmas ornaments. Does it count if I say I sometimes adapt keychains as Christmas ornaments if I don’t like the selection (or if the museum doesn’t have an ornament)?

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?

Oh, the Met to be sure, ever since reading From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in elementary school. My oldest daughter is reading it now by the way.

From Wikipedia.

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

This is one of the major “perks” of working for AASLH, I get to see so many cool museums when I travel it’s almost unfair. Here are a couple that immediately come to mind: Strong National Museum of Play (if I’m ever within five hours of this with my kids, we’re going), Pratt Museum (Homer, Alaska), USS Yorktown (got to sleep on it when I was a kid, a history geek’s dream), Baseball Hall of Fame, City Museum (St. Louis), General Lew Wallace Study and Museum (Crawfordsville, IL).

What is the most bizarre museum you have visited?

Probably the Indiana Medical History Museum which is one of the site visits for our Developing History Leaders @SHA program we hold each year in Indianapolis. Amazing collections in an amazing old building (though the room with the brains is kinda creepy).

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