Museum Matchmaking

Photo by via Flickr.

Photo by via Flickr.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are probably aware that tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. If you’re still wondering where to take your long-time love or new romantic interest, might we suggest skipping the fancy restaurant and heading to your local museum instead? Even if you’re single, museums around the world are offering up unique and fun ways to couple up this Valentine’s Day. Here are five examples…

1) Find Your Fish in the Sea at the London AquariumWhat goes better than a free glass of prosecco and some cute penguins? Well, perhaps a free bottle of prosecco, but that’s just being greedy. Anyway, fly solo or grab a friend and head to the London Aquarium tomorrow night for some food, drinks, and sea life. While the marine blue lighting from the habitats may not be as soft as candlelight, you might still find love alongside the jellyfish.

2) Getting Naked at the Getty
Watson Adventures is a company that provides fun and challenging scavenger hunts at museums across the country—I know because I’ve hosted a few of them myself. This weekend, build a team of up to six people—call it a triple date if you want—and head to the Getty Museum for a Nude Scavenger Hunt. Don’t worry, you can keep your clothes on, only the paintings will be naked. Not in L.A.? No worries, Nude Scavenger Hunts are also happening at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Met in New York, San Francisco’s Legion of Honor Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and at the American Art Museum and National Gallery in Washington D.C.

3) Meet Your Missed Connections at the Museum of Transport
There you are on the New York Subway, biding your time on your morning commute, when suddenly your soul mate appears. Too bad they exit at the next stop and you are just another missed connection in the big city. Well, the Museum of Transport is making an effort to reconnect you this Valentine’s Day at their Missed Connections Party in Brooklyn.

4) Let Your iPhone Be Your Guide
Want to keep things simple between you and your sweetheart? Why not download the Art Institute of Chicago’s free iPhone app and let custom theme tours like “Loves Me/Loves Me Not” or “First Date” guide you through the museum’s more romantic paintings?

5) Study the Science of Attraction at the California Academy of Sciences
Valentine’s Day just happens to coincide with San Francisco Beer Week this year, so some of the best Bay Area microbreweries will be providing the refreshments at the California Academy of Sciences’ Valentine’s event tonight. Also on tap? The museum will be exploring the science of cravings, so between crafts and cups of beer you can learn about animal or celestial attraction, try out some beer and chocolate pairings, and even hear some scientific love stories.


Museum March Madness

Photo via

It’s March. The time of year for binge drinking in Cancun, unseasonably warm days when skin that hasn’t seen the sun for several months is blindingly revealed to the world, and even the moon is acting a little wonky*. (*It’s almost in perigee and looks larger than usual, just check out the photo above). Essentially it’s a month of crazy behavior, where the coming of Spring whips everyone into a frenzy, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the annual NCAA College Basketball Tournament affectionately known as “March Madness.”

Chances are you know someone currently in the throws of Bracketology, mourning the unexpected win of Morehead State over Louisville or telling anyone who will listen that Kansas has what it takes to win the whole thing this year. Chances are equally high that you or an acquaintance just isn’t into this whole basketball thing. But fear not, there is common ground for sports lovers and for those who didn’t know that San Diego State had a basketball team, and that place is the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

The National Constitution Center is currently offering up a competition soaked in well over 200 years of history (take that NCAA!), and they want everyone to take part.

The Tournament of Presidents is a distinguished pool of 32 of America’s most revered Commanders in Chief vying for the title of Most Popular President of the United States.

Will we have a final matchup of George Washington vs. FDR? Or will dark horse Woodrow Wilson go deep in this tournament? With early round contests against Polk, Hayes, and Garfield, Lincoln has an easy route to the Elite Eight, and some think Reagan has the sentimental vote to make a name for himself. If you feel strongly for William Henry Harrison, sorry, he’s not in the running this year. But, Chester Arthur fans should head to the National Constitution Center’s blog to fill out a bracket of their own.

May the best president win.


Eight Crazy Nights

Photo by woodleywonderworks.

Photo by woodleywonderworks.

The 2nd Annual Museumist Gift Guide and Museum Holiday Roundup

That’s right, it’s the Holiday Season, and we’re ready to celebrate. Over the next month, we’ll be featuring gift ideas for the museum lover on your list as well as glimpses at how museums around the world ring in the holidays.

In the words of the noted Jewish scholar, Adam Sandler: “Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights. Instead of one day of presents, we have eight crazy nights.” On its most basic level, Hanukkah is a celebration of an important event in Jewish history: in 165 B.C., the Jews defeated the Syrian Greeks and rededicated the Temple of Jerusalem. In order to purify the Temple of the polytheistic ways that had defiled it, the Jews hoped to burn a menorah for 8 days. Unfortunately, they only had enough oil to burn for one night. But with a little divine intervention, that small amount of oil was able to burn for the full eight nights, and a holy holiday was born.

Today marks the seventh of the eight crazy nights of Hanukkah, but there are plenty of museums that will be keeping the flame alive throughout the entire holiday season. One such example, is the Jewish Museum in New York City, who currently has an exhibit of Hanukkah-inspired works from seven artists on display. A kinetic sculpture of an oversized dreidel shares space with Eleanor Antin’s hopeful mixed media piece, Vilna Nights. It’s an exhibit that seeks to capture both the symbols and the essence of the holiday through art. While you’re there, don’t forget to check out the rest of the Hanukkah 2010 offerings at the museum, like the over 500 menorahs on display or Daniel Libeskind’s Line of Fire.

Another museum worth checking out for Hanukkah-related festivities is the Jewish Museum of Berlin. Each year, they offer up a month-long Hanukkah Market that not only gives visitors a chance to sample tasty kosher warm spiced wine and purchase Judaica items from around the world, but also an opportunity to take in the rather impressive architecture of the museum itself.

If you can’t make it to either of these museums, I’m sure there is a cultural institution near you spreading the Hanukkah cheer. So, Chag Sameach and Happy Hanukkah!


Lights, Ornaments, Action!

Spiderweb ornaments adorn MSI's Ukrainian tree

Spiderweb ornaments adorn MSI's Ukrainian tree

The 2nd Annual Museumist Gift Guide and Museum Holiday Roundup

That’s right, it’s the Holiday Season, and we’re ready to celebrate. Over the next month, we’ll be featuring gift ideas for the museum lover on your list as well as glimpses at how museums around the world ring in the holidays.

While the holiday season unofficially got started in Chicago with the wreathing of the Art Institute lions, another museum a few miles down the road was already in the Christmas spirit. Back on November 18, the Museum of Science and Industry kicked off their annual Christmas Around the World and Holiday of Lights celebration.

The Christmas Around the World event, which is now in its 69th year, is not only an amazing opportunity to catch a glimpse at how different cultures around the globe celebrate the holidays, but it is also a chance to witness the diversity of Chicago first hand. Take a moment to examine the 50 trees, each decorated by volunteers from the various ethnic communities in the Windy City, before turning your eyes to the 45-foot grand tree, whose decorations are inspired by the ongoing Jim Henson’s Fantastic World exhibit. If you are curious to know more about the stories behind the decoration of the trees, head over to MSI’s website for the “Trees and Traditions” podcast.

Lest you think the holiday spirit ends with the hall of trees, make sure you take a gander at the 12th annual Holiday of Lights. Here there are light displays for Ramadan, Hanukkah, Chinese New Year, Kwanzaa, St. Lucia Day, Diwali and more. So, now matter your holiday traditions, there is a little something festive for everyone at the Museum of Science and Industry this time of year.


Graceland or Bust


Just the other weekend, my aunts were discussing a possible trip to Graceland. There are a million and ten places I would like to visit across this wide world we live in, but the home of Elvis is just not on the list. However, the fact that a visit to this mecca is not one of my To Dos apparently puts me in the minority.

What draws hundreds of thousands of people to places like Graceland every year? That complicated question is exactly the topic the Loyola University Museum of Art plans to tackle this Tuesday at their event: “Elvis (and George Washington) Lived Here.” DePaul University history professor, Amy Tyson, will explore the lure of cultural sites (i.e. Graceland) and patriotic shrines (like Mount Vernon) while delving into the history of pilgrimages to such destinations. This event should not only be an interesting discussion, but might also serve as inspiration for your next vacation.

For those of you unable to make it to Chicago tomorrow night, what famous house museum/cultural mecca is your favorite to visit? Or, which one is on your To Do List?

LUMA // Tuesday, October 26 // 6:00pm // Free for Members; $4 for everyone else


Event Round-up March 1- March 7


In the lineup for this week: graphic novels, drugs, frames, dancing, buttons, and famous photographers.

Now Open:

LitGraphic: The World of the Graphic Novel at the Huntington Museum of Art will run through May 23. Come see why graphic novels are the fastest growing genre for all national bookstore chains. (Huntington, West Virginia)

March 2:

What do Mark Twain’s love letters say about society at the time? Susan Harris will be speaking at the University of Kansas on just that topic from 3:30-5:00.(Lawrence, Kansas)

In this week’s installment of the Tuesday Talks series, the Park City Museum wants you to mix, mingle, and discuss the city’s music scene as you knew it in “the good old days.” Begins at 5:30. (Park City, Utah)

March 3:

The Louisiana State Museum- Old U.S. Mint plays host to the DEA-built exhibit, Target America: Opening Eyes to the Damages Drugs Cause. Open from March 3 – November 24. (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Web Wise 2010, which is in my opinion one of the best museum conferences, takes place in Denver this year. The theme is “Imagining the Digital Future,” and the Denver Art Museum is co-hosting the event. Can’t make it to Denver? Then follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #webwise or check out the comments on the conference back channel.(Denver, Colorado)

For those people in Portland, Maine, who like to draw from the great masters, there is no hotter ticket than the Drawing Club. On Wednesdays from 10-12, the Portland Museum of Art teaches technique in the Community Studio, then lets the group loose in the galleries to try out what they have learned. (Portland, Maine)

March 4:

Look beyond the art at the Birmingham Museum of Art as Chief Curator, Jeannine O’Grody leads “Picturing the Frame”. Starts at 10:30. (Birmingham, Alabama)

March 5:

The newest exhibit at the Fairfield Museum showcases not only historic artifacts from the founding of the Connecticut Audubon Society, but also how modern-day citizen scientists and social networking have influenced the ongoing work of the organization. (Fairfield, Connecticut)

Where would you be able to walk with elephants, write secret messages to your friends in ancient Greek, and talk with Roman warriors? Why Milwaukee of course. The Milwaukee Public Museum and the Archaeological Institute of America Milwaukee Chapter join forces for the two-day Archaeology Fair. (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Zero Point Zero is a dance performance inspired by the Blackout exhibition currently on show at the Newark Museum. (Newark, New Jersey)

What makes First Fridays so Fabulous at the Miami Science Museum? Laser shows set to the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd. Oh, there is a Family Friendly one too at 7:00. (Miami, Florida)

March 6:

Well, if you are a button collector, today is a sad day. The Vintage Button exhibit at the Doss Heritage and Cultural Center closes today. (Weatherford, Texas)

Late Nights with Flashlights at the City Museum allows visitors to explore the museum by flashlight. The museum stays open until 1 am. Buy admission after 9pm and get a free flashlight, or you can always bring your own. (St. Louis, Missouri)

I am quite jealous of anyone attending this event. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum present legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz with their Women of Distinction award. (Santa Fe, New Mexico)

Go on an Art Detour with ArtLink Phoenix. (Phoenix, Arizona)

March 7:

This is where I will be on Sunday. The Gibbes Museum of Art presents “Whistler’s Women: Songs from a Life Well Traveled” in conjunction with their ongoing Whistler’s Travels exhibit. Art, song, opera, and theatrical flair combine for what should be an enjoyable event. (Charleston, South Carolina)


Event Round-up Feb. 24 – Feb. 28


There are some interesting happenings occurring in the Museum world as February comes to a close. We’ve got wizards, Barbies, 17th century painters, ancient love, assassinations, Africa, and much more.

Now Open:

Barbie: The Fashion Experience at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. (Indianapolis, Indiana)

“A Photographer’s Story: Bob Jackson and the Kennedy Assassination” at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza. (Dallas, Texas)

February 24:

The ArtStars vs. The Art Fag at Wrongbar. An interview, an unveiling, a dance party and who knows what else. 8pm-2am. (Toronto, Canada)

February 25:

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts presents “An Artist More Feared than Loved: Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione,” which is a revisionist overview of the life and work of the 17th century painter.(Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Rubens and Van Dyck may be the headliners, but the real focus is the city of Antwerp itself in this exhibit at the National Museum of Sweden. Runs through May 10. (Stockholm, Sweden)

38th Annual Hong Kong Arts Festival opens with a jam-packed schedule. Runs through the end of March. (Hong Kong)

It’s the 75th Anniversary of the Whitney Museum of American Art‘s signature exhibition: The 2010 Biennial. Boasting a “cross section of contemporary art production rather than a specific theme” expect some excellent shows and a few surprises. Check out these videos for some more background. (New York City)

February 26:

The Savannah College of Art and Design hosts an Art History Symposium. The theme is Africa on My Mind: Contemporary Art, Home, and Abroad. Starts at 9 am on Saturday and ends at 12 on Sunday. (Savannah, Georgia)

The folks over at the Arkansas Arts Center will discuss how the romantic lives of ancient Egyptians applies to love in modern times. “Love and Passion in the First and Twenty-First Centuries” starts at 7:30am. Quite the topic with your morning coffee. (Little Rock, Arkansas)

Ice, snow, and how to get across it – three things Alaskans know a bit about. The Wasilla Museum showcases the state’s most legendary sporting event, the Iditarod, in an exhibit opening Friday. (Wasilla, Alaska)

February 27:

William Eggleston: Democratic Camera, Photographs and Video 1961-2008 opens at the Art Institute of Chicago. (Chicago, Illinois)

The 7th Annual Art Night Austin at the Austin Museum of Art and other venues around town. Runs from 6:30-10, with an after party running into the wee hours. (Austin, Texas)

February 28:

Seattle Public Library cardholders get free admission to the Seattle Art Museum today. See the ongoing Alexander Calder exhibit, brunch at the museum cafe for 10% off, and get a 25% discount at the store.

Harry Potter: The Exhibition casts a disappearing spell as this blockbuster exhibit closes up shop at the Museum of Science in Boston. (Boston, Massachusetts)

Are you a Betty or a Veronica? Both are welcome at the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art‘s exhibit “The Art of Archie Comics.” Closes today. (New York City)


Fossil Fest


Back when I was in high school, my mother insisted that we have Family Outings on Sunday. These outings often took us to interesting and/or strange places, like an apple orchard with a very creepy old dude singing about killing turkeys or to the Lincoln Museum in Springfield on a scorching summer day.

As much as we still make fun of these little adventures, I can’t seem to shake the habit. I still love going on quirky outings. So on Saturday, my roommate and I hopped in the car and headed to Cypress Gardens.

Cypress Gardens, located on part of an old rice plantation, is 80 acres of “blackwater bald cypress/tupelo swamp” in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. There are nature trails, swamp boat rides, a butterfly house, and swamparium. As appealing as these attractions are, I ventured to Cypress for a different reason: Fossil Fest.

Walking into Fossil Fest, the twang of a banjo and the smell of BBQ were the first things to greet you. Then your eye drifted to tables of sharks teeth, polished stones, and a variety of shards, bones, and whatnots. I’m no fossil expert, but the collectors and vendors behind the tables certainly were, and they were a talkative bunch. The fossils on display were all discovered along the South Carolina coast, and many were for sale. Some of the items were pretty impressive, but when it comes down to it, I have no idea what I would do with a fossilized shark tooth in my apartment.


With that, I said goodbye to the BBQ, banjo, and bones, and so ended this week’s obscure outing. Can’t wait until next week.


A Pickpocket Strikes Again


Back in September, we featured an interview with Joseph Del Pesco, artist, guest curator, and creator of an innovative “school without walls” program called Pickpocket Almanack. Clearly the first Almanack go-around was a success, because it is back for Round Two.

The Spring 2010 Session of Pickpocket Almanack features such “curators” as Jim Fairchild (the guitarist for the band Modest Mouse), Jerome Waag (a chef from Chez Panisse), and Renny Pritinkin (a professor in the Curatorial Practice Program at CCA). These curators create “courses” based on cultural events occurring throughout the Bay Area, which aim to forge connections with the arts, ignite discussions, and reinvent the meaning of cultural education.

So, if you are interested and happen to be in the Bay Area, make sure you swing by SFMOMA’s website on Monday, February 15 to register for Pickpocket Almanack.


Follow A Museum On Twitter Day!


Add this to your To Do List:

Become a follower of at least one museum on Twitter today.

Follow a Museum on Twitter Day is the brain child of Jim Richardson over at MuseumMarketing. The purpose is to draw attention to the thousands of museums on Twitter who could use a little help building an audience, getting their message out, and/or interacting with the public.

Over at, you will find a directory, organized by country, of museums on Twitter. This comprehensive list should help you pick out at least one museum to follow. Still not sure, you can follow my list or MuseumNerd’s list on Twitter.

Here are some good museum Twitter feeds for a start…

What museum will you be following today?

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