What I’m Reading: Jazz, Jimi, and Janitors Edition

Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius via Flickr.

Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius via Flickr.

1) Museumist has written about art museum Super Bowl bets in the past, and even tweeted about the book-based trash talking that Kansas City and Toronto public libraries were engaged in just this week. Now, the world of museums and sports are colliding in a jazzy way. Kansas City’s American Jazz Museum and the Louis Armstrong House Museum based in New York City have put their gift shops on the line over the outcome of the Royals-Mets World Series.

2) Speaking of musical mashups, did you know George Frideric Handel and Jimi Hendrix were neighbors? Though over 200 years apart, they lived next door to each other on Brook Street in London’s Mayfair neighborhood. This February, you can experience this musical odd couple’s co-existence with the opening of Handel & Hendrix in London.

3) Halloween is nigh, and no one is geeking out over the holiday quite like museums. Pictorial examines the Halloween-inspired nerd fest that museums are engaging in on Instagram.

4) My heart goes out to the cleaning lady at the Museion Bozen-Bolzano, a contemporary art museum in South Tyrol, who threw an entire art installation in the trash thinking it was detritus from a party the night before. If she just threw it away because she thought it was bad art, then I might think she’s a bit of a bad ass.

5) Someone else who is having a bad week is the Museum of the Bible, and they haven’t even opened yet.  They are under investigation for violating the 8th Commandment—that one about bearing false witness— over 200-300 illegally imported artifacts seized by customs.


You Can’t Please Everybody

Photo by John Fischer via Flickr.

Photo by John Fischer via Flickr.

This past August, Mother Jones ran an article exploring the wonderfully amusing world of one-star reviews that people award the United States’ National Parks. Of course, sometimes natural beauty is not enough and people may have legitimate grievances about their visit—rude staff, dirty bathrooms, etc.—but sometimes people are just being irrational and write reviews complaining about how the desert is “too hot.” As a result, I was inspired to explore some of the bad reviews that people post about some of the world’s more well-known museums, and, wouldn’t you know it, our cultural institutions’ overall ratings are constantly being dragged down by confounding and humorous posts from the discontented. Here’s a brief look at some visitors’ complaints…

On the Insufficient Benefits of Using a Corporate Card

In a review of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Anthro Food E. noted: “…I did come in later though just out of curiosity, but with my corporate discount (free) card of course (since i refuse to pay any amount of money to see antiques collecting dust)…and after 10 minutes, i already had ADD…i wasnt interested in any of the fake rembrandts they had to show at this museum nor any other pieces of art here either…” Quite frankly, I’m surprised they made it 10 minutes.

On Being Lured in By the Swirly Things

Now, I am among those that think cramming a trip to the Louvre into your Parisian itinerary is a bit of a waste. Apparently, Franq F. of Los Angeles agrees with me, but for different reasons. Here’s his one-star review on Yelp:

So, like, we were so excited to go to this museum because it was on so many websites. Well, we were absolutely disgusted and felt so ripped off. They totally fool you with all the new stuff outside, like all the cool glass stuff and swirly things and new, clean stuff. THEN when you go inside, IT IS DISGUSTING. There is literally like all old things, it is dark and so, so old. All of the paintings are so old, they are cracked; SICK! Who cares, none of it even looks real or anything. What a joke. It’s like, “Hey, France, way to trick us into thinking it was going to be a new, clean museum but then we get inside and it is ‘tow up.!” They obviously lure you in with the good stuff and then you are in this musty piece of junk. Like, you’re FRANCE…a country; why did you do it on the cheap, why not knock the junky crap building down and start over. It was such a rip. Fail.

Photo by TMAB2003 via Flickr.

Photo by TMAB2003 via Flickr.

On How to Deal with Being the Cause of Environmental End Times

A few Yelp commenters remarked that the California Academy of Sciences was a little too on-message with the whole global warming thing, but Rob S. had a suggestion for how visitors can cope: “…the lesson that man is killing off just about everything and diligently working toward environmental end times is woven into just about every exhibit. If you wanted to create a drinking game geared toward alcohol poisoning, just take a shot every time you see a reference to global warming, a species or area being threatened by man or the fragility of our planet.”

On Staff Recommendations

Having worked in and around museums for nearly a decade, I’m not immune to the fact that museum security guards are not universally loved. One commenter, particularly displeased with the guards at the Met, offered this suggestion: “The security staff here can DIAF, please.” That’s Die In A Fire for those of you playing along at home. At least he said please.

On Backhanded Compliments

Clearly not a fan of how the Creation Museum can play a little fast and loose with the facts, Daniel T. from Denver offered up an exhibit review: “But by far, the best exhibit they have is a dinosaur with a saddle on its back. That’s right, a dinosaur wearing a fucking saddle…”

Photo by freeparking via Flickr.

Photo by freeparking via Flickr.

On Knowing Your Demographics

Museums spend plenty of time and money dealing with demographics research, figuring out who comes to the museum and why. Unfortunately, it seems that museum goers don’t spend nearly enough time considering whether or not their interests match with the institution they’re about to visit. One Yelp commenter has stepped into the void to provide truly useful information for those considering visiting the Vatican Museum: “…unless you’re religious or into art, it’s lame and uncomfortable.” Did you get that? If you’re not religious, not into art, and not into religious art, it might be best to avoid visiting a massive art museum attached to a massive religious institution that is chock full of religious art. Now you know.

On Truth in Advertising

When I first read this review of the San Diego Zoo, I felt compelled to find out if they were joking. Then I realized I didn’t care.

After an exhaustive journey I sat down for lunch at the Jungle Terrace and ordered what they called an ‘Elephant Burger.’ It was then that I learned the secret they don’t want anybody to know about: they don’t actually serve the animals that they keep at the zoo in the restaurants! There was no freakin’ elephant in my burger at all. Can you believe that!? What a ripoff!

On Existential Questions

Finally, back at the Met, Nathaniel L. poses this age-old question: “If you’re not allowed to touch the paintings, what’s the point in even going?”


Do you have any wonderful negative museum reviews, written or overheard? Share them in the comments below.