Well, Here I Am.

There’s always pressure when introducing yourself to the blogosphere. I’m completely unsure of who will read these entries and thoughts, whether it be friends who click on a link out of obligation, or bored folks who stumble upon the blog out of coincidence.

So, the pressure is on. I pledge to be as witty as possible without being phony. I pledge to be honest about my experiences and opinions, yet I will try to be tactful when professionalism is required. Names may be changed to protect the innocent (or the guilty, see previous reference to professionalism) but if I feel I have something to share that may be of use or entertainment value to my readers (all six of you, Mom and Dad included), I’ll share it. If you know me, you know I rarely hold back. And if I do hold back, I still say what I’m thinking, only it’s thinly disguised with a layer of passive-aggressiveness.

Since I’ve already spent the first two paragraphs proselytizing, I probably out to skip the manifesto on Why Museums Are Important. I’ll even spare you the details of my career evolution (for now). But never fear: all (well, most) will be revealed in time.

I’ve worked in museums for 13 years, which, by museum standards, isn’t very long. AAM (the American Association of Museums) thinks I am out of the Emerging Museum Professional (EMP) stage and am now mid-career, but most days I don’t feel like it. Some days I put thought and effort into my relationship with museums, digging deep into the philosophy of informal education and really agonizing over trying to intelligently voice my thoughts and positions on museums. I try to think and speak and act like someone who is mid-career and ought to know something about museums.

Other days, I just want to dig my hands into the sand table at The Children’s Museum, or enjoy rubbing the slimy, wet nose of a calf in the Encounters Barn at Conner Prairie. On those days, I just want to enjoy being a museum visitor, rather than a museum thinker and analyst. Sometimes I just want to enjoy the experience.

And this is where I will end my inaugural post: asking you about your own museum experiences. What do you remember, either from your own childhood or visiting with your own children? What museums encounters stick in your mind? Why are they important to you? Discuss.

To get you started, here are some of my own museum memories:

-Visiting the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and always searching out the same paintings:

What 2nd grader isn’t totally fascinated by a dude getting eaten by a shark?

On a more pensive note, looking at four paintings and contemplating one’s Voyage of Life.

-Pressing our faces against the glass that encased the giant squid at the National Museum of Natural History.

-Always looking for the sign with the seal stomach full of coins posted in front of their exhibit at the National Zoo. To this day, I still don’t like throwing pennies into fountains, lest a seal might come out of nowhere, eat my wish, and end up in Necropsy.

-Standing in the rain with my mom on my first day of work, about four feet away from an Amur tiger as he stretched up and strummed the harp wires (the only thing separating us) with his paws.

-Playing in Penetrable by Jesus Rafael Soto at the Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, TX. Sadly, the installation is no longer there, but we had a joyful time winding through the tubes on our visit.

-Walking into a dark room with a friend at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and having one of the most visceral and thrilling responses to a work of art, Acton, that I have ever had to anything in a museum. Ever. I still get goosebumps every time I go in there, even years later.

2 thoughts on “Well, Here I Am.

  1. > “What do you remember, either from your own childhood or visiting with your own children? What museums encounters stick in your mind? Why are they important to you?”

    I dig Acton, too.
    One piece sticks out in my mind from the summer I worked at the St. Louis Art Museum. I don’t know why – I wouldn’t call it particularly intricate or inspired or anything. Picture a key ring, but about 1′ in diameter. Instead of keys, metal rods, each with a feather on the end. Some mechanism slowly rotates the feathers up to the top of the ring, and one by one they fall back down to the bottom. I mean, honestly, I could make a replica of this in half a day. But for some reason it really sticks out in my mind.
    But if we’re talking about which museum *as a whole* has moved me the most, hands down it’s the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima. I think we’ve talked about it before. For the benefit of anyone else reading this…cried like a little girl, ’nuff said.

  2. Emily….happily took the time tonight to read your blog. Was struck by the “homework” issue and totally agree that children need to be taught more about thinking and less about doing worksheets correctly. Most intrigues by museum experiences which got me thinking:

    *Visiting a Matisse exhibition in Boston with my mother and viewing The Dance spread across a wall as you climbed the stairs. Absolutely breathtaking.
    *Musing about O’Keeffe’s Cloud paintings when I fly
    *Sobbing at the Academy when I saw Michelangelo’s David with my own eyes.
    *Driving to DC from graduate school in North Carolina to see Ginevra de’ Benci at the National Gallery…exquisite…worth every mile…and when in DC returning to the Peacock Room and the Phillips.
    *Wyeth at the Farnsworth and Katz at Colby
    *Working at the Bowdoin Museum of Art the summer of 1966 when Director Philip Beam curated the exhibition: Homer at Prout’s Neck..Homer’s depiction of the sea has always touched me deeply.
    *Too many museums, too little time! Thanks for priming the gray matter, Emily!

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