Sunday, December 11, 2011

Natural Heating

I worked on Saturday at one of my museums, doing a public event for our annual holiday festival.  The plan was to read some Christmas stories (The Night Before Christmas, the final chapter of A Christmas Carol, and Snōshoo the Christmas Bunny, which was written by one of our volunteers) by the fire in our 1710 house.  After that, I had some simple Christmas crafts (paper chains, paper snowflakes, and cranberry/popcorn garlands) and a scavenger hunt set up back at the museum.

We ended up getting around seven kids and a few adults, but everyone came at different times, so I never did read the stories.  Instead, I hung out over at the house for a couple of hours, tended the fire, and talked with the visitors who did come over.  I may have also nibbled a few of the gingerbread men in the photo above.  :)

I know our weekend manager was disappointed that more kids didn't come, but I left out the crafts and scavenger hunt for later kid visitors to do.  The museum was open seven more hours after I left around 1pm, so I'm sure we got some who enjoyed those activities.  And as for my part, as I said to my mother via text, "I'm hanging by the fire now.  No visitors.  But hanging by the fire in a 1710 house.  So  :)."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Grey Majesty

I had to work this morning, visiting a school to talk to some young students about the Native American history of the area.  It was a fun program, but a rainy, messy day, so I was happy to be done for the week around 11am.  I hurried out of the building to my car, but stopped for a quick shot of this lovely church.  Even grey stone on a grey day can sometimes seem to glow.  Love it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Scuttlebutt

So after a late night at the museum, I got up around 6:15 this morning and headed down to Hartford with the curator of one of my museums.  We were attending the second day of the 2011 New England Museum Association conference.  The workshops I attended were interesting (the view above is of people listening to a great period wallpaper reproducer), but the best part, as usual, was the gossip.  ;)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Always Exciting

A glimpse into the scintillating world of the museum professional tonight.  Above is a shot of my dinner, which I ate in the museum kitchen around 6pm.  I went in late (which gave me a lovely morning at home with the hubby and the puppy) and babysat one of our lectures until about 10pm.  I'm exhausted now, but home in bed.  Up tomorrow at 6am for a museum conference in Hartford!  I tell ya, the excitement never ends.  ;)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Holiday Cheer

I know, it's too soon for Christmas decorations!  I'm a big fan of waiting until the end of November in order to give Thankgiving its due.  However, one of my museums has an annual tree and wreath festival and drop-off for the event has begun.  I think I walked past this tree a half dozen times today.  Ah well, I love Christmas, so I don't mind too much.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Solar Flaring

I had a very busy day at work, but yeah, this garden is where I spent part of my morning.  Can't argue with that!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Best Photo So Far

I am exhausted tonight.  Since yesterday, I have hosted/taught/herded 78 school kids at my museums and I think I'm coming down with something to boot.

So all you get is the photo and a short caption.  The basket in the foreground is full of animal skins for the Native American history program I did this morning and the room in the background is 301 years old.  No, I'm not kidding.

In addition, my lil' camera phone did an admirable job handling both the detail on the basket and the chairs in the back.  So hurrah for a good photo and it's off to bed for me!

Monday, October 24, 2011

No Plants in the Museum

. . . but one or two in the office are fine!  This is the purple phalaenopsis orchid that I somehow inherited for my desk on Wednesday.  I'm not complaining!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Never the Same day Twice

I've always said that holding three jobs in the museum field ensures that I never have the same day twice.  And man, did this week prove it!  Last night, I was wandering around one museum in a dress, noshing on brie and pinot noir.  This morning, I was ankle deep in a muddy archaeology pit.  Variety is the spice of life!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

A sunny day at work!  I filled in for one of the tour guides on Saturday and it was a pleasant, breezy, sunny day in Portsmouth.  I love how the sunlight fills the dining room in this house!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fall Comes to New England

Just a little taste of fall in New England on this rainy Thursday.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Pits

My wonderful husband helped me at work on Tuesday, digging a pit for my after-school archaeology program.  Normally, I'd have to do this all by myself (twice a year), but he was able to knock out the first part in a few hours.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Museum Daily . . . are we even doing this anymore?

OBVIOUSLY, I'm not very committed to the Museum Daily photo project anymore, but I'm pleased that I at least kept with it for over a month (most of which was last fall) and have since posted a number of a-day-in-the-life photos of my museums.

In keeping with that, this was my view for part of the day on Saturday. I was hosting an archaeology open house event for Massachusetts Archaeology Month and was stationed in the 1677 house with some 17th century artifacts from an excavation done in that town about a decade ago. We didn't get too many people (rainy day and lots of other things going on in that county and town), but we did have around 5 or so interested parties. Not a total waste! :)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Storage Success Stories, Part III

More storage!  I know, I know, the picture below isn't very exciting to anyone but me.  I know that educational supply storage is very boring to most normal people.  So I shot the bottom two photos so you can at least kind of understand why neatly labeled storage makes me so happy.

OK, see how many rubber stamps we have?  And all those ink pads in the box already?  First of all, I had no idea we had so much of each.  If we did a program with stamps, I might have not been able to find all of these (they were spread out between three different boxes scattered throughout the dark supply closet) and bought a bunch more.  Now I know what we have!

And now they're nicely organized!  The small box in the lower left houses all of the loose alphabet stamps (smallest ones in the tin, larger ones in the box).  The ink pads are all consolidated at the top left.  All of the wooden handle stamps are turned the right way up so I can see what they are.  Doesn't that look so much better?

Now multiply the lift I get from getting one supply organized by 22 (for all the boxes completed already).  See why this is a treat on rainy days?  :)

P.S.  In both home and work organization, I get a lot of inspiration from the shelter blogs I read.  In particular, I've been gobbling up Chez Larsson lately.  The author has a lovely home and lots of good organizing ideas - check it out!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Modern Art

Lately, I've been loving this project:  WFNX & MFA acoustic sessions.  One of Boston's local radio stations partnered with the Museum of Fine Art to schedule a number of modern rock bands to play in the galleries of the museum.  As a fan of both the music WFNX plays and the art the MFA displays, I think it looks magical!

Love the juxtaposition of the shots below - one was taken by me on a tour of the MFA last winter; one is from the album of acoustic session photos.  The bottom one shows the band Taking Back Sunday in front of this amazing "Renaissance Revival reenactment" (the exact words of our tour guide) piece.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Storage Success Stories, Part II

Well, it's taken me since March (apparently) to get them assembled and start filling them with supplies.  However, I've finally put some of my IKEA storage boxes to work at one of my museums!  I assembled all thirty of them a few weeks ago and started filling & labeling them yesterday.  

I realize this is a very small thing, but I can't explain how nice it is to look at a box and instantly know not only what's in it (thanks to my lovely labels), but how much you have of a given supply.  Before, all the supplies were spread out everywhere and I was always buying more of things we already had because I didn't know we had it!  Hooray for small miracles.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Given that my second week of summer programming at one museum (coming up soon in mid-August!) is about Archie comics, I really enjoyed this.  That is all.  :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Visions of the Past

Love this set of images.  I saw them a couple of weeks ago and knew I'd seen something similar somewhere . . . Then, I remembered these great images of the grounds of the Wentworth-Coolidge Mansion.  The one above is my favorite - I love how the photographer who merged the photos played around a bit and made it appear that the people in the older image are looking up at the lanterns in the modern image.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Whisky History

This is pretty cool. The project started as a conservation story - in essence, a "project to thaw, open and examine a crate of what is believed to contain whisky from Ernest Shackleton’s 1908 British Antarctic (Nimrod) Expedition has started at Canterbury Museum, New Zealand."

Of course, once the marketing department at Whyte & MacKay company had its way with the story, it became what you can see in the video above.  Read all about the conservation here (I've had the link in my sidebar for awhile now - love this story).

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Power of the Third Place

(photo credit)
Today, I ran down a hill behind a rolling hoop with a boy who can't read very well and a boy who can't speak English very well.  None of that mattered.  It was all flailing arms & laughter.  There was no need for words and I was grateful that my museum was able to provide all three of us with that wordless connection.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Personal/Professional Connection

I was in a very interesting meeting today at one of my museums. Next year is the 400th anniversary of Anne Bradstreet's birth and various museums/towns in Massachusetts are planning some celebration and recognition of "The Tenth Muse, Lately Sprung Up in America."  While perusing a selected works of Anne's before the meeting, I noticed this poem, which I had first read excerpted in Laurel Thatcher Ulrich's Good Wives.

Since my husband is eight months into a year-long military deployment, Anne's words in this piece touched me on a personal level. Enjoy the poem and keep an eye out for Anne Bradstreet events in Massachusetts in 2012!

A Letter to Her Husband, Absent upon Public Employment
My head, my heart, mine eyes, my life, nay, more, 
My joy, my magazine of earthly store,
If two be one, as surely thou and I, 
How stayest thou there, whilst I at Ipswich lie? 
So many steps, head from the heart to sever, 
If but a neck, soon should we be together. 
I like the Earth this season, mourn in black, 
My Sun is gone so far in's zodiac, 
Whom whilst I 'joyed, nor storms, nor frost I felt, 
His warmth such frigid colds did cause to melt. 
My chilled limbs now numbed lie forlorn; 
Return; return, sweet Sol, from Capricorn; 
In this dead time, alas, what can I more 
Than view those fruits which through thy heat I bore? 
Which sweet contentment yield me for a space, 
True living pictures of their father's face. 
O strange effect! now thou art southward gone, 
I weary grow the tedious day so long; 
But when thou northward to me shalt return, 
I wish my Sun may never set, but burn 
Within the Cancer of my glowing breast, 
The welcome house of him my dearest guest. 
Where ever, ever stay, and go not thence, 
Till nature's sad decree shall call thee hence; 
Flesh of thy flesh, bone of thy bone, 
I here, thou there, yet but both one.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Gaggle of Dustpans

Probably not the right collective noun there.  :)  I got a kick out of this arrangement of dustpans and brushes that I was hosing down for my archaeology program and had to take a picture.  This was on a Tuesday around 2pm, I think.  The museum world is very different from the for-profit working world . . .   

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Museum Daily #Who Knows Anymore

This was my morning yesterday.  :)  Helping to plant a 3 Sisters raised bed garden with 12 preschoolers in the sunshine.  Not a bad way to start the week . . . 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

They can't be sure . . .

As a museum professional, I was extremely amused by this sign at St. Andrew's Castle (which I saw when I was in Scotland over the last couple of weeks.  which I was, by the way.)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

1677 Floor

That's what I wanted to stare at today - the lovely wooden floor of one of the 17th century houses where I work.  Just think of this: on a normal workday a couple of weeks ago, I was walking around on a floor that was built from trees that were cut down the year that William & Mary were married.  That's crazy!  And that's why I do history.  :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bond . . . Crimson Bond

Haha, I kind of love this. As a museum educator, I buy a lot of my reproduction items from this company, James Townsend & Son. It looks as though they've created a short movie about the Revolutionary War, using a lot of their products. Very smart! And if their funny YouTube instructional videos are anything to go by, should be entertaining, too!

Monday, March 28, 2011

My New Office!

We recently relocated the office space at one of my museums, from an outside rental to a room in one of our historic houses. Last Friday, I moved lots of boxes and small items into the new space and this Friday, members of the Board and I moved the heavy stuff. I was there again today to set up the wireless network (really proud of myself for being able to do it!) and get things a little more organized. The boxes currently on the floor will all go into closets, but they're being used as weights to even out the carpet for now. ;)

I'm really excited to have a space right on site, which will make it easier for me to check on the houses and keep a general eye on things. Plus, the house is a lovely little 1740s gem. And, yes, that door to the left of the window in the last picture does in fact lead to a parlor where George Washington took tea, thankyouverymuch. :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

In the Flesh

This is kind of awesome.  My favorite part is when the docent asks what "King Philip" eats upon being told he's 400 years old.  :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

And One More!

Here's my list for my third job:

Must Do:
  • set up new office in one of the historic houses 
  • submit volunteer project description by 3/25 
  • attend citywide meeting of cultural organizations on 3/25 
  • mail state public television auction donation 
  • respond to donation requests from NYC high school 
  • make sure intern is all set with projects during my absence in April 
  • email volunteer website designer re: structural updates to site 
  • get estimate from local graphics company for summer exhibit text panels and family tree panels 
  • back-up computer before move to new office 
  • pack up office 

Would Like to Do:

  • create estimate for framing supplies for exhibit 
  • give treasurer estimate for exhibit budget 
  • finalize new logo with Board and volunteer graphic designer 
  • get to work on reprinting membership cards 
  • schedule photo shoot of one of the houses with local photographer 
  • schedule meeting with former house manager to talk collections

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    Holding Myself Accountable

    While we're sharing, here's my to-do list at one of my other museums.  Maybe posting them on the internet will help me stay focused and get everything done!

    Must Do:
    • 3/28 shoe history program with local nursery school
    • Write article about after-school archaeology program for local paper (due 3/30)
    • Publicize after-school archaeology program:
      • Schools
      • Websites (the museum's & other sites that list kids' programs)
      • Local paper article & calendar listings
    • Nail down final after-school archaeology program details
      • field trip details
      • supplies
      • permission slips/letters
    Would Like to Do:
    • Start thinking about summer exhibit workshop (June?)

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    Storage Success Stories!

    See, look how neat that looks (see previous shot of the closet here)!  And after today's trip to the local IKEA (photo below), I've got 30 more boxes to continue my organization spree.  It's the little things . . .

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    A Month in the Life

    In case you ever wondered what I get up to at my museums. :) Below is my to-do list for the month of March for just one of my three museums. This month's a bit busier than usual because I'll be out the first couple of weeks of April.

    It definitely helped me to get everything down and get to work on it (note that the first item is already crossed off). A to-do list, huh? Simple & old-school, but it works. :)  UPDATE: I'm going to cross things off as I go.  Huzzah!

    Must Do:
    • spend Staples Rewards $ ($50~,  various program supplies)
    • prepare for home school group's visit for shoemaking program on 3/17
    • decide on summer camp themes & dates and have brochures printed
    • begin to distribute brochures and publicize program (esp. spring preview once date is set - 4/30)
    • send camp info to CITs and counselor
    • develop and publicize April vacation program
    • schedule guest speakers and alternate activities for first 2 weeks of after-school archaeology program
    • consult with curator and website designer on education needs for new website
    • write a raise proposal to the Board (mention competitive wages & accomplishments)
    • order gift shop items and new ice cream maker
    • spend donation from city councilor (raccoon fur for Native American program basket and IKEA organization boxes for educational supplies closet)

    Would Like to Do (if Time):
    • get back in touch with local art teacher re: collage workshop for area seniors & our award of grant money for senior programs
    • contact local Council on Aging coordinator to book future senior lectures
    • contact schools who didn’t visit museum in fall and try to schedule them for spring
    • follow up with Scout groups who got in touch over the winter

    Monday, February 28, 2011

    Virtual Representation

    If you couldn't make it to DC for Museums Advocacy Day 2011 (like me), here are some things you can do from home, via AAM's President Ford Bell:
    1. On Tuesday March 1, share the same key messages with your legislators that advocates are taking to Capitol Hill. Use the Contact Congress feature of Speak Up for Museums on Tuesday or throughout the week to send letters to your legislators in support of funding for the Office of Museum Services at IMLS, the role of museums in comprehensive education reform and the fact that museums are economic engines.
    2. Museums Advocacy Day participants are also sharing with legislators an Economic Impact Statement for their museum.  Prepare and share yours today! 
    3. Ask your legislators to sign-on to support “Dear Colleague” letters being circulated in the House and Senate by Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) in support of the Office of Museum Services.
    4. Encourage your trustees and visitors to your museum to weigh-in with legislators.
    5. Use the web and social media to further our collective advocacy efforts. Add a link to Speak Up for Museums to your museum’s website, connect to AAM on Facebook, or post an entry about issues affecting museums and the legislators that represent your museum on your museum’s blog.

    Sunday, February 20, 2011

    The Beginning

    I posted a few weeks ago about my desire to start organizing the supplies in this closet at one of my museums.  It contains many art and craft supplies that I use for my school programs and vacation camp programs.  Most of the supplies have their own containers (baskets, boxes, etc.), but the disorganization is pretty widespread.

    So I decided that containers of uniform sizes and shapes were the key.  I picked up a few KASSETT boxes at IKEA and filled them with crayons and colored pencils.  It may not look like much now, but imagine the whole closet full of white, well-labeled boxes.  A small step in the right direction!

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Shadows & Light

    Passing by the windows of one of my museums last Thursday, I was struck by the pattern of shadows on the snow - amidst my excitement at actually physically being at work, for the first time in two weeks!  So I snapped a picture.  Also - that large oak on the right is at least 363 years old and was used as a prayer meeting location for early settlers of the town from 1648 on.  Very cool.

    Wednesday, January 26, 2011

    Lunch @ Home

    Working from home, as lovely as it is, is getting a bit old. The above was my lunch yesterday. Not bad, really, but let's compare it to a couple of work lunches that I took pictures of last spring and fall.

    On the hill by the river at one of my museums.

    At a lovely sidewalk table in the town of one of my other museums.

    Sigh. I realize the weather and season are big factors here, but it's just not even close, is it?

    Friday, January 21, 2011

    Museum Daily (sort of, kind of)

    I'm not sure if I want to count this as a Museum Daily, because it's not from today or even this week.  However, it's a photo I took of one of my days in the museum, so I suppose it counts.  :)

    These two notes are thank you notes from the kindergarten classes at a school who visits one of my museums annually.  These sweet kids come every fall to do one of our programs on Native American life in Massachusetts.  Despite their young age, they're generally very interested and well-behaved.  

    And every year, I get a tall thank you note, written by the lead teacher and signed by each of the little kids.  How sweet is that?  I pinned them to the wall in the shared office to remind me of what it's all for on the days when I'm feeling frazzled or tired.

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Work Resolutions

    I haven't made New Year's resolutions in my personal life for about four years. I have nothing against them, but I'm not sure they ever really stick with me. Without writing down a step-by-step schedule for achieving goals, I have a hard time keeping up with them. And I find myself just too busy living life to follow a schedule! However, it seems like a good thing to attempt with my work life. I like the idea of having a work plan for the year - a list of major things to achieve.

    In the fall, a local city councilor generously donated $500 to one of my museums, and the curator graciously handed it off to my department - the education department. I think one of the best uses for the money is to buy boxes with labels and properly organize the closet in the photo above. It's a simple goal, but having that closet - which contains a lot of my educational supplies - neat & easy to navigate would be wonderful!

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Art Restoration on a Snowy Day

    Since my road looks like this:

    I will not be going into work today.  Instead, I'm working from home at the desk in the guest room and savoring a second cup of coffee.

    I wanted to share this interactive from a December 18th article in the NY Times. The Met has a painting in their collection that has, in the sixty years it's been at the museum, been alternately identified as a Velázquez, repudiated as such, and now vindicated. It's a really interesting story, but what attracted my attention even more was the accompanying interactive.

    Extensive restoration work was done on the painting over the last eighteen months, which was key in revealing the true identity of the work. To help readers see the difference in the painting pre- and post-restoration work, the Times layered photographs of the two stages (pre-restoration on top & post- on the bottom). Readers can move a slider back & forth to see more & less of the images. The difference is astounding!

    I love the idea of using an interactive like this for a museum exhibit, particularly one that includes paintings and can therefore raise those specific issues of art conservation. However, you could also do something like it to illustrate any kind of restoration work, from furniture to documents. It's a more sophisticated version of the "before & after" trick and I think it's probably quite easy to execute on the technical side. Hmmm - I'm getting ideas . . .

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Just for Fun

    (Image from The Onion)
    This article from The Onion, from a little over a year ago, is pretty funny.  It actually reminds me of a commercial for Dos Equis beer, about their faux spokesperson, "the most interesting man in the world."  Each commercial lists things about this man that are amazing and/or show how important he is.  A line in one of them goes, "At museums, he's allowed to touch the art."