So, it’s been a while.

Hello, world. What’s new? I realize I haven’t posted here in…jeeze…forever. Sorry about that. I think I started blogging just to have a blog, which is never a good reason to start blogging. Take that as a lesson!

I’ve moved on from the Waterworks Museum, where I was briefly (for 8 months) running their social media, in addition to occasional work on the collections, scheduling Waterworks Wednesdays, and anything else I could fit in to my 15 hour work week. It was a great learning experience, but after a combined 2.5 years there, it was time to move on and seek new adventures. (Don’t worry, you can still find me in the gift shop at the Harvard Museum of Natural History)

Now, I’m a graduate intern at the Bostonian Society, which runs the Old State House Museum in downtown Boston. I’m working with an off-site collection, and that’s really all I can say until I get a better sense of TBS’ social media policy. I’m hoping I’ll be allowed to blog here and there about my experiences there, but we’ll see. I’ll be there for a year (I started in January and will end in December), so there’s a lot of room for growth and discovery. I’m really looking forward to the journey.

I’ve completed all my classes for my graduate degree, and I’ve realized I’ve been spending my days spending money I don’t really have. I feel like I should be reading museum books, but do I really need to be reading more theory? I had an idea while I was tweaking the appearance of this blog (dear lord it took forever to figure out that social menu below my title) — wouldn’t it be cool to visit one or two historic houses and museums in Boston a week, and blog about them? I think that would be neat. And it would get me to write. So I think I’m going to do that. I should make a list of all the historic houses in the area (helloooo Google) and try to get to as many of them as I can.

In other news, Drinking About Museums: Boston and NEMA are co-hosting a networking 101 evening at the Hong Kong on April 15th, 2015. I helped come up with the idea and get it together (sorry to brag but I gotta take some credit, right?), and I’d love it if everyone came! Click the DAM:B link above to RSVP (and make sure to come to the event this Wednesday for casual drinks and chats!).

Speaking of Drinking About Museums, I’m pretty glad the Google+ group exists. I’m heading to Austin, TX in a few weeks (for funsies), and posted in the group to see if anyone wanted to get together — BOOMSAUCE! Got a fun date with a bunch of Texan museum pros on April 6th now. I love the internet. Don’t you?

Time to make that list.

– a

So, it’s been a while.

#MuseumShowoff Boston!

ImageHey guys! Sorry for not updating as frequently, but I’ve had a lot going on and minimal time to conceive of blog posts!

Let’s get right to it: Museum Showoff. Sitting through a 2 hour class before having to watch five other people showoff before me was possibly the most nervewracking thing ever. George Hein came in to talk about constructivist learning, and we did this really cool group activity where we had to choose a thing to teach someone, and figure out how we could teach that thing using the four main methods of learning and teaching. It was actually pretty hard, but I think our group also chose a difficult concept to teach (the earth goes around the sun). The activity took my mind off my nerves, but only for ten or fifteen minutes. By 6:45, I hate to admit, I was constantly looking at the clock, and feeling very anxious to get out of the classroom and over to Hong Kong. Not too many classmates came, but the ones that did, I really appreciate you coming! It was also great to be reunited with some folks I met at the Story Collider back in September (Becky gave a talk on what it was like being an art history major; and it was Claire’s first time at a DAM/MSO BOS event). I saw a lot of familiar faces, and I’m pretty stoked that my face was familiar to them as well!

The showoffs that I saw were great. (I’m bummed I missed Jeff Steward’s talk about the Harvard Art Museums!) Diana gave a great talk about the HMNH Hack from last month, with some lessons learned from the hack. Emily Oswald’s discussion of the different ways the old Charlesview apartments on North Harvard St could be utilized as pop-up museum space/historic space was incredible, and I totally want to see if that plan can work at all, because that corner is in desperate need of some artistic therapy. Meg Winikates shared what it’s like to have the “From Here to Ear” exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum, a space not traditionally designed for live animal exhibitions. The video she showed and the way she described the exhibit made me really want to hop on the next commuter rail and go see it (and hopefully sometime next month, I will!). Susan Timberlake’s talk about museum badging for the Center for the Future of Museums was really cool, and I am definitely going to learn more about badging now! Becky’s talk definitely hit home for me; as a history major, I was constantly asked what I wanted to do when I graduated, and most people assumed that the answer to that question was teaching.

I went dead last, and I’m not going to lie about how nervous I was. I was shaking when I plugged my USB into the computer. I had a plan for this talk: I was going to introduce the Waterworks Museum, and basically give everyone a virtual tour of the museum, with a handy PowerPoint and everything. And then, the day before the showoff, I realized what an utterly stupid idea that was. I didn’t want to give people a virtual tour, that would give them absolutely no reason to visit (unless the tour piqued their interest, which I’m sure it would have), and I would have been boring and droned on for 9 minutes citing facts about the building, dates of construction, and basically sounding like a history textbook on legs. I didn’t want that. I wanted people to know what I know, and feel how I feel when I walk in to the Waterworks Museum. (to use an awful analogy, the Waterworks Museum is to me what the Millennium Falcon is to Han Solo) I used photos I took from my time there and put them in to a movie that I had playing on the TV behind me the whole time I was talking. No music, just photos; of the building, of the collection, of the engines, of little things I found that fascinate me. I talked about what I do, and why I’m scared, and why I’m proud. I shamelessly plugged our February Vacation Open House. I wanted my presentation to be a call to arms; to rally people to not only visit the Waterworks Museum, but to take an interest in small historic museums and houses that sometimes get ignored, especially when their cultural competition is a place like the MFA or the Museum of Science.

I’d say I was successful.

The next day, walking up an icy sidewalk to the Waterworks Museum, I was bombarded by tweets from Ed Rodley, about the InvasioniDigita initiative that has started in Italy. It’s an incredible #musesocial initiative, where “mobs” of people “invade” cultural institutions and share their experiences via social media. Instead of solo visits to museums, you have groups of people, starting conversations about art and culture and society, and it looks like an amazing experience. And now they want me to participate in their second edition in April! Hopefully I’ll be able to rally the troops at the next Drinking About Museums: Boston, and in class on Wednesday after I attempt to explain the concept to my classmates.

I know I’ve said this in previous posts, but it needs to be said again: I love the museum community here in Boston. Wednesday night made me feel like I really can do this; that the field I’ve chosen is actually limitless as long as you have passion and determination. I have to thank Ed (again) for making me feel welcome in this community, but I also have to thank everyone else who came up to me after my showoff to say hello. Diana, I totally want to collaborate with you on anything and everything; your vision and creativity blow me away. Emily, I want to help you get Charlesview a makeover. Claire Hopkins just started her museum studies degree, and has a fantastic YouTube channel called Brilliant Botany that I suggest everyone check out (she wrote her undergrad thesis on MAPLE SUGARING, how awesome is that??). Dan Yaeger and Heather Riggs from NEMA, it was so awesome seeing you both there, and thank you so so much for letting me come to the office once a month to volunteer. To the entire museum community: you rock.

I should probably go do homework now…

#MuseumShowoff Boston!

#MuseumSelfie Day and Drinking About Museums: Boston!

Yesterday was a great day. It seems like #MuseumSelfie day was a hit around the world, with hundreds of thousands of people, from employees to visitors, posting pictures of themselves in a museum setting on Twitter. Looking at the photos was great! I liked that some people posted multiple selfies from various museum trips they had taken throughout the years, documenting themselves on a journey through the cultural centers of the country and the world. Bravo to everyone who participated, including the museums that retweeted photos and encouraged their staff to actively participate! Woo hoo!

And then there was Drinking About Museums at Hong Kong in Harvard Square. Have I mentioned how much I love the museum community in Boston? Because I love it dearly. Thanks, Ed, for making me feel welcome, and joking around with me. It was great talking to so many museum pros. I loved that there were some students from the wintersession HACK the HMNH class, too! They did a great job promoting the class and inviting everyone there last night to their party tomorrow night, where their participatory, interactive, and inventive exhibits will be on display for one evening of EXPLORITAS! I’m really stoked I got to talk to Diana, one of the facilitators of the event. It was interesting to hear her perspective on the HMNH, and it was nice to hear some of my own views agreed with. I can’t wait to be at the event tomorrow (I’m actually working it in the gift shop) – it will be really cool to see what these students have come up with.

I’ve signed up for my first-ever Museums Showoff as well, which I’m super nervous about, but also super excited. 9 minutes to talk about whatever I want to talk about, as long as it is relevant to museums? Sounds great to me. I’m planning on talking about the Waterworks Museum (as everyone now knows), so if anyone has any questions about it (things you’d like to know, questions you’d like answered), please let me know and I’ll definitely try to address it. I have the feeling not many people know what the Waterworks Museum is, so it’s definitely going to be an introductory 9 minute talk about it. But super jazzy and fresh. Or something.

Short update, but just wanted to share my enthusiasm and say how psyched I am for this year! Hooray 2014!

#MuseumSelfie Day and Drinking About Museums: Boston!

Drinking About Museums!

Wednesday night I had the opportunity to participate in my first-ever Drinking About Museums. I had heard about Museums Show-Off via Twitter, but Drinking About Museums was a new setting for me. I follow quite a few museum professionals on Twitter, and learned about the event through that.

Not gonna lie, I was pretty nervous when I showed up at the bar. I had no idea what to expect. Would we be sitting down? Hanging out at the bar? Who was going to be there? Was there a format involved? Did I need to know some secret handshake to get in?

Luckily, I knew a few people that were attending, and was swiftly shown to the table where 20 fellow museum professionals were sitting, enjoyinig a beer and some food, and chatting enthusiastically about work and play. Several of the people there were employees at the Peabody Essex Museum, where I was an intern in 2009, so I felt a bit more comfortable knowing people I could talk to. It was a great time! I was kinda quiet at first, mostly because I had no idea what to say. But eventually I was asked what my profession was, how I was involved in museums, and the conversation moved on from there. I was told I could come back to intern at PEM (I might take you up on that, Ed Rodley!) and met some new PEM employees that I had never known during my time as an intern.

The best conversations I had were with a woman from the Museum of Science (Caroline, but I can’t remember her last name, dang it!), and with Juliette, who works in Public Programs at the PEM. With both of them I talked about where I was in my program and what I wanted to accomplish out of it, and how hard it is to get in to the field nowadays. Juliette reminded me that in this field, it really is all about who you know and who you network with, but that because the field is so small and tight-knit,everyone ends up knowing everybody, somehow. Caroline and I talked about how she got into the field, and I was surprised to learn that she didn’t start out in exhibits, but in education. We talked about how so many people start out working in one department and eventually find themselves doing projects for other departments and becoming a jack-of-all-trades in their museum. Which is also incredibly thrilling to hear! I am head over heels for all things collections-related, but if I can have the opportunity to work with education or public programs or development, that makes things even better. Right now I’m working in Collections and Marketing at the Waterworks Museum, but I’m trying to see if its possible to help the Education dept at HMNH with the next Family Day event.

This experience has only increased my love of the tight-knit community of museum professionals I already know, and makes me want to meet more individuals who share my passions. I want to meet more emerging professionals my own age, but learning from those who have been through the motions of working in museums is always an amazing opportunity that I hope to someday participate in from the other end (I wanna mentor people too!).

Until next time, cheers!

Drinking About Museums!