26 June 2009

Suited for Space at SITES

Before and through my graduate education, I've held a lot of internships. A LOT. Due to the limited stint of these placements, it is very rare that I get to see an entire project through to the end. But now, with more and more museums and organizations updating blogs and Twitter accounts, I can keep tabs on the projects that I had some part in.

Suited for Space is a traveling exhibit in development with SITES and NASM. I helped with content research and met with NASM staff in the early stages. My time at SITES was great; I got to do a lot of interesting background work. I'm excited to see how much of that work ends up in the final show- and also excited that I won't have to wonder, just click "Refresh."

25 June 2009

On Sausage and the Interwebs

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I participated in an interview project for AAM's Center for the Future of Museums.

And it is up!

Check my interview out. It is short and sweet, I promise. And for those you of you who haven't met me, yes, I am always that expressive. I don't want to give away too much from the interview but as a teaser, I talk about sausage, twitter, and visitor participation. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Also check out my classmate Ashley. She speaks of the digitization of collections.

Us GW 2009 graduates are a smart bunch (hint, hint, employers).

ETA: Thanks for the shout out, Val!

08 June 2009

Bank of America Gives Back

Though I happily jumped the Bank of America ship long ago (seriously, their customer service leaves much to be desired), I am equally impressed to recommend their Museums on Us program. Check out Val's most recent post over at her desk.

For those local readers of mine, the Phillips Collection is the only institution within city limits to participate, but hopefully for those of you BoA customers, more will get on board. As much as I love visiting the big ol' Smithsonians for the freeness, there is something refreshing about a lovely little museum you can get most of the way through in an afternoon.

04 June 2009

Walking Tour Halted

On Sunday, I, along with a friend, attempted to go on a walking tour of Dupont Circle that highlighted historical scandals. The titillating topic and gorgeous weather brought out people in droves, which caught the Historic Dupont Circle Main Street reps a bit off guard. With no megaphone, the pour guide had to contend with traffic noise and though he had a book and other visuals, they were best suited for a classroom setting instead of on the side of the street.

After the first stop (talking about the Hope Diamond at the Indonesian Embassy), we decided to leave the group and go get frozen yogurt. I would have liked to stay on the tour, but being able to hear the guide is kinda integral to the whole experience. I hope that it improved as the tour went on and while the popularity of the tour is a good thing, I hope that they learn from this experience and plan accordingly for future events. Encouraged registration would help estimate numbers as well as gather ever important email addresses for future events. Multiple guides leaving at staggered times would be a great help. Since the tour is in the neighborhood, I found that the buildings and surroundings were adequate visual aides and the fact I couldn't see photos in a book clearly merely frustrated me. Perhaps the book could be listed as a reference after the tour.

I've emailed Historic Dupont Circle to see if they will be putting the tour online- I really did want to learn about those scandals!- and depending on how the email conversation goes, maybe I'll share my thoughts here. I'll be sure to update you!

02 June 2009

Proud of My State

On the same day as my visit to AVAM, I swung by the Peale Museum. It is the first building erected in the Western hemisphere that was built to house museum collections. With Washington, DC so close, cultural institutions in Baltimore can sometimes fade away. And don't get me wrong- I love living in DC and sampling the freeness. But don't forget that a short drive north on 95 is a plethora of interesting sites and activities.

Plus, the Peale Museum has its name engraved on the front and the U's look like V's. I love that.

30 May 2009

Visiting with a Fan: American Visionary Art Museum

During a recent visit to Baltimore, I stopped by a museum that has long been on my want to visit list, the American Visionary Art Museum. It barely beat out Great Blacks in Wax, though I think that will be my next new Baltimore cultural destination.

I could go on and on about some of the pieces I saw there- an apple wood trunk self portrait sculpture, large fabric pieces that incorporated stolen items, a thermal camera installation that plays "Fever"- but the point of this post is not so much a review of the museum as it is of my experience there.

I visited with an AVAM member and as a first timer, I will admit that I relied somewhat on his knowledge of the place to guide my path. He didn't force me to go through the exhibits in any set order and we would wander around galleries on our own, but he made an effort to point out favorite artists and pieces. More often than not, it was something that I had overlooked in my quest to see as much as possible, making me retrace my steps and take more time to look. After looking again, a conversation would begin, jumping off from the art and into our personal histories. It was like living a museum studies article: using the art on the walls to connect with people.

And while I enjoyed the company and conversation, I wonder how my visit would have differed had I experienced the museum my usual way: alone. I may be in the minority that I typically visit museums on my own- perhaps this has to do with my academic background in museums- but I love wandering through galleries with no real set path, open to stumbling upon whatever exhibit has been put up for me. Those of you who know me in real life will remark that this is a sharp contrast to almost anything else I do; I love a plan. Maybe this is because I've gotten used to visiting museums multiple times. Living in DC has spoiled me. But I wonder what pieces would have caught my eye if I were on my own or what conversations I would have had after the fact.

I certainly don't regret going to the museum with a frequent patron. It was a fantastic way to spend an afternoon and a great way to learn more about a friend. It also challenged my typical museum habits. What are your thoughts- better to wander alone or do you appreciate the benefits of attending with a regular visitor?

And because I can't help it, a note, AVAM: your labels tend to be super long and not consistent.

If you do plan on visiting, remember to show your AAM member card; it gets you $1 off the $14 price of admission. And even though I forgot to flash mine, your student ID will get you in for $8.

27 May 2009

Thoughts on the Future

Last week, I participated in an interview project for AAM's Center for the Future of Museums.

This is certainly something I'm thinking about a lot on a small scale- namely, MY future in museums. For the first time in four years, I'm not behind the scenes in any way: not a job, an internship, or graduate course has me with a badge or access card. And with my changing (some may say emerging) position in the muse-iverse, I find it comforting and exciting that the nature of museums themselves are in flux with me.

But enough reflection- you want to know what I think beyond my own professional arc! In my interview, I focused on what I see as the increasing role of visitors in the creation of museum exhitbitions and projects. This is something that I've thought about since I started my grad studies at Tufts in 2006 but since AAM in Philly, it has been more at the forefront of my mind. While I am more than excited to put my degree to good use (anyone need an exhibit developer? grant writer? general museum lackey?), I am fully aware (and excited that) museums are sites for the public. I'm not for creating exhibits for my fellow curators or museum professionals' benefit; I am interested in being a part of an experience that produces a product that a community feels connected to and a part of.

What about your thoughts? What do you see for the future of museums? Be sure to check back. Once they've posted my interview online, you will most certainly want to hear it. Not only do I talk with my hands, but I also mention kielbasa. And what's a professional interview without Polish sausage.

22 May 2009


So, a lot has been going on recently: AAM in Philly, graduation from GW, and the job search. One of my closest museum friends, Val, started up her own museum blog a few months back and it reminded me that I had saved this site years ago, back before every museum had its own blog. I like to think of myself as ahead of the curve, but museYUM languished here, as if I didn't think that museums are the tastiest. And I do!

But with a new found energy from the conference and graduation and a drive to put my best foot forward in the job search, I am awakening this sleepy little corner of the interwebs. Check back for my random musings (yuk, yuk) on this whole museum thing, along with some of my favorite past projects.

And I promise to keep the puns to a minimum.