The title is not meant to be flippant. COVID-19 and the current restrictions placed on the Tufts’ community and at large should be taken seriously. The editors are hoping everyone is safe and healthy. The goal today is to give a glimpse at what those of us self-quarantining can do to entertain ourselves. Mental health is just as important as physical health and being cooped up for most of the day can be depressing. Fortunately, there are a few ways to keep our imaginations occupied in this turbulent time.
First, here is a link back to the museum-studies related podcasts post from last year. The extra time for spring break and not attending a physical class could be used to enrich your knowledge of the museum community with these listens.
Next, there are online museum tours and collections you can visit. Mental Floss’ website provided an article for inspiration. The Louvre has virtual tours about Egyptian antiquities and the remains of the Louvre’s moat. The Guggenheim provides a look at its art collection with a searchable database. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has virtual tours for permanent, present, and past exhibits. The Mental Floss article linked above provides more examples of museums you can visit virtually.
Then, there is the opportunity to flex your social engagement muscles online. Museums have been reaching out to their email subscribers as they have closed in order to reassure visitors during the fight against the virus. While visiting museums will be missed, there is a strong museum community presence on social media. Museum professionals and museums have been posting their favorite collection items on social media stories. On Instagram, the Social Distance Gallery account is hosting BFA and MFA thesis shows because people are stopped from seeing them in person. There is the hashtag on Twitter, #MuseumFromHome, where museum professionals are discussing favorite museum artifacts. Maybe you all can provide your favorite object with that hashtag.
Finally, I come to streaming platforms, like Netflix or Hulu. They have plenty of documentaries to offer about subject matter found in museums. For example, there are National Geographic docs on Disney+ about nature, science, and cultures. On Netflix, they have a doc called Fake or Fortune? that is about art forgeries in museums. Or you can have fun watching National Treasure or Indiana Jones and enjoy the protagonists’ cooperation with museums.
Please let us know if the links are not accessible. Remember, you should not feel pressured to be extra productive in this trying time. Most of us are navigating new terrain with working solely from home, and we should not be pressuring ourselves with unrealistic goals. The stress of the unknown can hopefully be lightened with these activities. I would love to hear about what our readers are reading/watching/etc. to keep them entertained, so please leave suggestions in the comments.
BOSTON CHILDREN’S MUSEUM-JOB POSTING
REGULAR, FULL TIME HOURLY/ 35 HOURS PER WK
Boston Children’s Museum is one of the most influential children’s museums in the world. It was founded in 1913 by the Science Teachers’ Bureau and for over 100 years has been engaging children in joyful discovery experiences that help to instill a lifelong love of learning. The Museum is also one of the few children’s museums in the world to maintain a diverse collection. The Museum’s collections of Americana, Natural History, Global Culture, Native American, Dolls and Dollhouses, and Japanese artifacts encompass more than 50,000 items.
Boston Children’s Museum Collections team is seeking a very organized, detail-orientated and highly motivated individual with a strong interest in Museum studies, Cultural studies and or History to assist with digitizing Boston Children’s Museum’s artifact collections. The ideal candidate possess a strong background in Microsoft office, familiarity with digital imaging, databases and scanning, experience with online document sharing, such as google docs and drop box and proficiency or high interest in using social media platforms is a plus. The Collections Cataloger will be primarily responsible for, but are not limited to: cataloging, documenting, and inventorying museum artifacts; taking digital images and scans; and preparing and entering catalog records into the PastPerfect database. The Cataloger will be part of the inventory team, working alongside other collections staff to complete a systematic inventory of the cultural collection. Each physical collections item in storage and on exhibit will be identified and digital catalog records will be added or updated accordingly. Additional responsibilities may include rehousing and cleaning items in storage.
• Create or update object-level catalog records with brief descriptions and locations.
• Evaluate artifacts’ general physical condition and create reference image.
• Rehouse objects in storage and clean as needed.
• Reconcile digital catalog records with any physical records for donor information, provenance, or any other associated documentation.
• Attend department and other related meetings.
• Other tasks as assigned by Curator of Collections
QUALIFICATIONS AND REQUIREMENTS
• High school diploma required; college degree/experience preferred
• Strong interest in or course work in Museum Studies, Cultural Studies, History, or Public History
• Working knowledge of office procedures and equipment
• Proficiency with Microsoft Office suite and Windows applications
• Strong organization skills; detail oriented
• Ability to interact positively with diverse staff and visitors
• Ability to react positively to a rapidly changing environment and make good decisions under pressure
• Familiarity with digital imaging, databases, and scanning a plus
• Familiarity with online document sharing sites (e.g. Google Docs, Drop Box) a plus
• Proficiency or interest in social media a plus
Physical Demands: must be able to lift, push, or pull up to 40 pounds. Use a step ladder, sit, stand, and walk for extended periods of time. Normal office environment with varying exposure to office equipment, i.e. printer, fax, shredder, phone and desktop computer.
BOSTON CHILDREN’S MUSEUM MISSION STATEMENT
Boston Children’s Museum engages children and families in joyful discovery experiences that instill an appreciation of our world, develop foundational skills, and spark a lifelong love of learning.
Boston Children’s Museum is a welcoming, imaginative, child-centered learning environment that supports diverse families in nurturing their children’s creativity and curiosity. We promote the healthy development of all children so they will fulfil their potential and contribute to our collective well-being and future prosperity.
• We believe in the intrinsic value of play and provide opportunities for experiential learning, and multi-sensory, object-based exploration.
• We connect children and families to transformational experiences and ideas in science, technology, health and wellness, arts and humanities, and global cultures.
• We support parents, caregivers, educators, scientific researchers, civic leaders, and health professionals in addressing critical issues facing children.
• We embrace change and innovation in order to address the changing landscape of childhood.
We introduce children and families to the diverse cultural life of the city and are a vibrant urban meeting place for all in Boston and beyond
HOW TO APPLY: Send a copy of your resume and letter of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org, application closing date is 2/16/2020.
With the Lunar New Year ringing in just yesterday, it is a tragedy that the Museum of Chinese in America in Manhattan lost most of its collection in a fire the day before what should have been a celebration. The archive caught fire not far from the actual museum, and the 85,000-piece collection was likely completely destroyed, whether from fire or water damage. Any pieces that did survive are inaccessible at this time due to building damage. There was one man critically injured and several firefighters with minor injuries, but no deaths reported. There is no criminal activity linked to the fire, and the case is being investigated.
The building itself is historic, having once been used as a public school for immigrant children. The collection included donated items like family albums, clothing, newspapers and other artifacts owned by immigrants. Their loss in the fire is irreparable. The good news is that 35,000 documents had been digitized prior to the fire, and some of the collection is safe because it is on display at the museum.
This museum and its community are mourning the loss of the precious collection. They did have some digital copies of documents, and storage was separate from the museum; however, the damage is done to the collection and to the trust of those who lent their property to the museum.
To prevent such catastrophes, museums should start with the basics: having an emergency/disaster-preparedness plan. Museums and archives alike should assess their collection and its housing for risks to human and collection safety. Also, for collections housed in historic buildings, there needs to be a balance between preservation needs of the structure and mitigating risk to people and the collection. Sometimes that balance calls into question the use of an automated fire suppression system. Hopefully, as more news about this horrific event is revealed, the museum will stay transparent about its prevention measures and how it will be able to improve in the future.