Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

Month: January 2011 (page 1 of 6)

Marketing Yourself

This post on The Museum of the Future has some great suggestions for young artists who want to get their name and their work out into the world.

The same principles can easily apply to you and your work as you set out into the museum world and look for your perfect job. You’re selling yourself. Not in a depressing way, as in a commodity or an interchangeable part. You’re making the case for why you, and your unique set of skills and your energy and enthusiasm and brilliance. It’s not always a natural thing to do, but it’s so important.

So think about those questions, and try to answer them for yourself. Think about the story you want to tell the world about yourself, and then go and tell it.

Museums in the News – The Roundup is Sick of Winter

Welcome to the coldest and snowiest Museum in the News roundup yet!

The biggest news of the week has been the partial looting and continued danger at the Egyptian National Museum in Cairo. We’ve talked about it already here and here. Today brings a video shot by the Associated Press of the army securing the museum and surveying the damage.  A rather brilliant D. Phil. candidate in Egyptology at Oxford named Margaret Maitland is also blogging about the images we’ve seen of the damage and matching the pieces up to artifacts we know are part of the museum’s collections. Her analysis seems to indicate that some of the objects destroyed are part of King Tut’s collection, which Egyptian authorities have been denying.

A Museum of Useless Inventions (The Nonseum, Herrnbaumgarten, Austria)

Information Centre at the Groninger Museum (Groninger Museum, Groninger, The Netherlands)

Computer Game Museum opens in Berlin (Computerspielemuseum, Berlin, Germany)

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is damaging its legacy (Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Kansas City, Missouri)

Worcester, Mass., museum head writes its history (Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts)

Museum archives program making strides (Bennington Museum, Bennington, Vermont)

$100 million private museum opens in Tasmania (Museum of Old and New Art, Tasmania, Australia)

The Thorny Path to a National Black Museum (National Museum of African-American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.)

11 staffers of 9/11 memorial make more than $170,000 a year (National September 11 Memorial and Museum, New York, New York)

Jersey City Museum scrambles to pay mortgage (Jersey City Museum, Jersey City, New Jersey)

Egypt’s antiquities chief says government asking Berlin to return Nefertiti bust (Neues Museum, Berlin, Germany)

Cleveland Museum of Natural History to build energy-efficient SmartHome (Cleveland Museum of National History, Cleveland, Ohio)

Parisians demand more flexible museum hours, and the city listens (Various Museums, Paris, France)

Heath Ledger exhibition planned for Perth (Western Australia Museum, Perth, Australia)

Unclear origins: Swiss investigate museum collections for Nazi looted art (Various Museums)

Suit over Little House Museum in Kansas is settled (Little House Museum, Independence, Kansas)

Tours suspended after death at Wakefield mining museum (National Coal Mining Museum, Wakefield, United Kingdom)

Legal battle over Armenian genocide museum ends in philanthropist’s favor (proposed Armenian Genocide Memorial and Museum)

“America I Am” exhibit opens at National Geographic Museum (National Geographic Museum, Washington, D.C.)

Update on the Egyptian National Museum

The Egyptian National Museum is still not entirely safe, unfortunately. Turns out that it’s right next door to the national headquarters for Egypt’s ruling party, the focus of much of the protesters’ ire. Said building is still on fire, and firefighters worry that if the building is destabilized because of the fire, it will collapse…right onto the museum.

There was some looting in the museum as well before the army arrived, according to this AP report.

Hyperallergic is monitoring Al Jazeera, and has posted these heartbreaking pictures of looting damage, in which the museum appears to be in far worse shape than the AP report would indicate.

There are also pictures of a really wonderful thing that happened, though, as described in the AP article:

Before the army arrived, young Egyptians — some armed with truncheons grabbed off the police — created a human chain at the museum’s front gate to prevent looters from making off with any of its priceless artifacts.

Edit: The History Blog also has more information about the museum, including some terrific quotes from the Egyptians who helped form that living chain.

Museums and Wikipedia

Nina Simon’s recent post at Museum 2.0 about museums using Wikipedia reminds me that I had meant to post about a recent interview with Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikipedia Foundation.

Gardner, who spoke on NPR’s On the Media last weekend, addressed some of the challenges that Wikipedia faces for the future: increasing the diversity of its editing group, sustaining peak activity, increasing the quality of articles’ scholarship, and reaching new audiences.

Any of those sound like familiar challenges?

Here’s one of the most interesting bits:

BROOKE GLADSTONE: So how do you stop the plateau from becoming a decline?

SUE GARDNER: The first thing that you need to do is figure out what are the impediments to people’s editing that have no benefit and you just want to get rid of them. Wikipedia was started in 2001. At that time, everything you did on the Internet was difficult. Now, ten years later, it’s really easy, right? Flickr is easy. Twitter is easy. Facebook is easy. Editing Wikipedia is not as easy.

So the first thing that we did was kick off a project to increase the user friendliness of Wikipedia. And then the second thing that we’re doing is trying to create invitations and persuasive messages to people about why we think they should edit.

Gardner’s questions can and should be applied to any and all parts of a museum, from exhibit design to participatory experiences to fundraising to visiting. They signal a user-friendly attitude, which museums haven’t always had. To answer those questions, you have to think like a visitor, not like a staffer.

What do we most want people to do? How do we make it easier for them? Sometimes, it’s as simple as that.

Egyptian National Museum in danger

Breaking news from Cairo, where government protesters have been filling the streets for several days now: fires are breaking out near the Egyptian National Museum.

The whole country is in a communications lockdown, so reporting is very much in flux. Reuters has confirmed however that the Egyptian army has been called out to secure the museum.

The Egyptian National Museum is home to the greatest ancient Egyptian treasures in the world, including King Tut’s mask. The next few hours should offer more complete information about exactly how much danger the museum’s artifacts (and staffers) are in. We’ll have updates here when we know anything for sure.

For more about the Egyptian protests, check out the New York Times. Their front page is entirely given over to covering various aspects of the crisis.

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