Tag Archives: Museum

Mini Artifact Experience: Giraffe

Mini Artifact Experience: Giraffe

I’m continuing work on enhancing our public programs and visitor experience by integrating our teaching (and occasionally permanent) collection into programming. One mini-Artifact Experience program focuses on the museum’s giraffe skull, jaw, and some of its vertebrae. In this pop-up science demonstration, educators may focus on giraffes, herbivores, and/or vertebrates. Also pictured are magnifying glasses and gloves.

As this program continues to evolve, I’m developing some educational materials to support the teaching collection and enhance our intellectual control. I’m also working on designing a mobile storage and demonstration cart to ease facilitation, storage, and polish the overall look of the demonstration! Thankfully many of the museums and intuitions I have reached out to have provided some terrific resources and knowledge about their own educational or docent cart programs. I am always blown away by the amazing collaboration demonstrated by colleagues and the museum field in general!

As always, if you have any thoughts or suggestions on this project, I’d welcome them! Thanks!

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Science Snapshot: Earth Day Pledge

Science Snapshot: Earth Day Pledge

This year to help mark Earth Day I developed a simple activity to encourage museum visitors to pledge to protect the planet. While Earth Day itself is Tuesday, April 22, I went ahead and facilitated this activity this past Saturday, in an effort to reach a wider demographic beyond our scheduled school field trips this next week.

With a blank canvas of the world (well, Western Hemisphere), visitors promised to protect the Earth with their unique finger prints using paint. I also provided some simple ways individuals and families can make a positive impact on the world – i.e. recycling, using rechargeable batteries, planting a garden or a tree, and bringing your own reusable bags to the grocery store etc. I was initially going to have handouts to share with families and visitors, but then that seemed fairly anti-Earth Day with all the extra paper. Instead, I had a couple of copies handy at the paint station. I also provided some wipes to help with the resulting mess. I wanted to avoid lots of blue, brown, and green finger prints all over the galleries! It was a quiet day at the museum, but I got a fair amount of participation. It was a good opportunity to have some conversation with our visitors, as well as be a visible presence on the gallery floor.

In the future, if I were to help orchestrate a similar activity, I would probably try and use stamp ink or a different type of paint. This paint was a little too thick, and some of my smaller participants were extra generous with their pledges! Another thing I may tweak to this specific project is to develop a larger canvas – or at least try and include a truly global map – including the Eastern Hemisphere as well. As always, my coworkers were awesome in helping craft this activity – from design assistance to actual fabrication!

What are you or your institution doing to help celebrate Earth Day 2014?

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Encountering Corpses (And following best practices in museum standards….)

Check out this neat blog post from across the pond, which explores interpreting, conserving, and exhibiting corpses! Fun fact: This post was thoughtfully composed by a fellow University of Glamorgan (now the University of South Wales) alum. Small world!

Exploring the Collection...

Museums, in order to achieve accredited status, must adhere to correct standards and policies. Alongside this it is essential to address the ethics of dealing with certain collections items. Collection items such as human remains.

The conversation is an interesting one to have – should museums display and/or store human remains? Do they even have the right to? What gives them that right? What are the advantages, or the disadvantages? And how should display and interpretation be attempted, what is there to accomplish?

This is why I jumped at the chance to attend ‘Encountering Corpses’, a day of lectures and debates presented by Manchester Metropolitan University’s (MMU) Institute of Humanities and Social Science Research (iHSSR) and held at Manchester Museum (MM).

The event aimed to “specifically address how the materiality of the human corpse is treated in and through display, exhibition, sanctification, memorialisation, burial and disposal”. This meant that although…

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Hipster Jones

Hipster Jones

This meme has been around for awhile, but I thought I’d share it here. The last time I saw it, I think it graced the walls of our grad lab…

It’s Friday and Spring Break here at the museum – so things are pretty busy. What are you or your organizations doing to mark this busy time of year? Extra programs? Special presentations? I’m eager to hear your thoughts!

Regardless, when in doubt, Indiana Jones.

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Science Snapshot: Celebrating Sixth Grade Students in STEM

Science Snapshot: Discovering Excellence in Arkansas

Arkansas Governor Beebe and the Museum of Discovery celebrated nearly 100 sixth grade students, their families, and teachers at a recent event, Discovery Excellence in Arkansas. Students represented schools from across the state. It was a busy evening – but a fantastic one!

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Science Snapshot: Artifact Experiences

Recently I proposed, planned, and implemented a new visitor experience program at the museum, “Artifact Experiences.” In an effort to interpret our collection (of +1,500 objects!), “Artifact Experiences” seeks to curate temporary, facilitated displays of artifacts from the museum’s collection that connect with a temporary exhibition, special event, or program. Since becoming a more hands-on science center, the museum’s collection is largely otherwise uninterpreted to the public. Combining my museum collections and education background, this program seeks to safely and carefully interpret the collection as appropriate. I created temporary object labels to specifically connect with the new exhibit, Tech City. I also placed the objects on muslin cloth during their temporary display. 

At all times carefully facilitated by museum staff, interested visitors had the opportunity to don gloves for a careful hands-on exploration. I also provided mini-magnifying glasses for curious eyes to get a closer inspection. The display offered visitors an entirely new opportunity to connect with the museum’s collection and mission, and I had a lot of great questions and enthusiasm from visitors. 

This Friday, February 7th I kicked off the new program with a small display connecting to the new exhibtion in our WOW Gallery, Tech City. Focused on themes of industrialization, manufacturing, and communication (all key elements to a modern city, eh?), the temporary display highlighted a small sample of our truly awesome collection. 

Curated pieces included: 

  • An Automatic Fire Alarm Repeater (c.1899) 

  • Hallicrafters Model 505 Television (1948) 

  • Wooden Planer (c. 1850) 

  • Dalton Adding Machine (1912) 

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    An Artifact Experience

     

    Any suggestions for this program as it continues to grow and evolve? I’m eager to continue to safely highlight our collection while continuing best practices. 

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Still me – I promise!

 

Hello, all.

After some thought, I’ve revamped the Wunderkammers page. After a year, let’s consider this a birthday rebranding, of sorts. Rebranding – a name, logo, slogan – often comes with the fear of confusing audiences or may be associated with a change of management or mission. FEAR NOT! The mission of this blog remains the same: to highlight an emerging museum professional’s experiences, reflections, and inquiries. I will also continue to be at the helm. 

In addition to signifying a change in mission or management, rebranding also signifies an awareness of marketing and public image. Rebranding too often or without significant direction is when confusion arises. Last year the Whitney Museum made headlines with its minimalist logo and rebranding, completed after about ten years of its previous logo – a short time. The move to rebrand however coincides with the institution’s physical move and a massive construction project. After much consideration, while “Wunderkummers” (wonder rooms, cabinets of curiosity) still remain at the core of the blog, the title itself leaves a bit of room for confusion and interpretation. While museum geeks and enthusiasts may instantly recognize this – and many have! – I wanted to make the blog a bit more accessible, open. Another key factor in my rebranding was also my shift from graduate student to emerging professional, and physical shift in location.

Inspired by none other than Downton Abbey‘s favorite butler, Mr. Carson, I thought this quotation fit with my mission both as a museum professional and museum enthusiast: “The business of life is the acquisition of memories.” How…perfect. I believe this quotation reflects the mission of this blog, as well as highlights the mission of many a cultural institution – acquiring and interpreting artifacts, art, and ideas. 

To sum up: It’s still me. The title and font have changed, but the mission, writer, and, yes, URL, have remained the same. Questions? Ideas? I welcome them. 

What do you think? Do you agree with Mr. Carson? 

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                                     Mr. Carson knows all, really

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Alumni in the Field

Alumni in the Field

Historical Administration alumni (yours truly on the left) enjoy the rooftop garden at the Madison Children’s Museum while attending the 2013 AMM Conference.

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It’s Elementry…

Hello, all. Since the last post in July I’ve stayed fairly busy in the field with an array of professional development opportunities and professional changes.

In July I was fortunate to attend the Association of Midwest Museums Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. Thanks to a conference and travel scholarship from the AMM, I was able to partake in a range of engaging panels on volunteer management, public programming, community partnerships, and much more. I was even able to meet up with some Historical Administration alumni and faculty. It was a great conference, and I was reminded how Madison is a wonderful city!

In August my position with the Illinois State Museum came to a close, and I accepted a new opportunity as Museum Educator with the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock, Arkansas. More on this exciting transition later!

On an unrelated note –

One thing I’m very excited about is the much-anticipated opening of The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes, due to open in October at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry. This traveling exhibition will highlight the science behind the master of deduction’s crime solving skills, include period dioramas, and feature artifacts and props from popular depictions of the great detective. Needless to say, I’m excited.

Anyone want to fly me out to Portland?

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What Happens in Vegas…

While I’ve not been, The Neon Museum in Las Vegas recently inched its way to the top of my “must see” museums.The last time I was in Vegas, I was in fifth grade. Needless to say, most of my memories of the trip involve a good time at the hotel pool.

Yesterday my thoughts on Las Vegas shifted when I stumbled across a photo essay on Fishing 4 Deals titled “Las Vegas Neon Boneyard: Photo Essay of Times Gone By.” The photos sparked interest – three types of interest, in fact.

First, I was curious about the museum as a potential visitor – How could I see the site, when, where, etc. The museum’s website nicely answered many of these FAQ. I also shifted into historian mode, and donned my “material culture” hat. Once I got past the practicalities of the museum and its mission, I was curious to consider the site as a case of collections storage, as well as curating stories from the artifacts. The vast majority of the signs appear to be stored in an outdoor facility, with a minority of signs being treated for preservation. After factoring in practicalities for both visitors and the signs, I began to, and here’s that museum education background kicking in, brainstorm possible public programs, activities, and possible local, national, and international outreach possibilities. 

I look forward to someday – soon hopefully – visiting the Neon Museum and seeing not only the sights but the signs! 

What do you think? Keen to visit? Been there already? I look forward to hearing your thoughts! 

ImageEvery sign has a story. I bet this sign has at least a dozen.

Photo courtesy Fishing 4 Deals. 

 

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