Thursday, April 19, 2012

Honoring Them, and Her

I hosted a school vacation program at one of my museums today.  The theme was the sinking of the Titanic and I've been doing very interesting research for the program since January.  Since this is the centennial year, Titanic's been everywhere and I wanted to take the chance to explore a bit deeper with and for the local kids.

Fifteen kids came to learn about that tragic and beautiful ship.  They saw photos of her, traced and colored a large image of her (above), heard about her story and some of the stories of her passengers, read about her sinking in reproduction copies of the April 1912 New York Times, ate the kind of food that was served in her dining rooms, and tapped out her distress call over handmade Morse code machines.  

I hope & think they went away with a better understanding of what happened and a connection to Titanic's story.  In the end, that's what we strive for, right?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Majesty Amidst the Mundane

Here's my desk at work this evening.  Pretty normal stuff - a lamp, coffee cup, keyboard, desk calendar - but look!  The book from this post got  a bigger, older buddy.  Yup, the little lady on the left is 334 years old (born in 1678) and the big guy on the right is 413 years old (born in 1599).  

This is why I do what I do.  :)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Recording the Moments

I'm presenting at a workshop tomorrow night in Boston and spent some time last night working on my notes. The workshop is about things that the panelists wish they hadn't learned the hard way, but I wanted to end on a positive note. I'm constantly rediscovering how much fun museum work can be and I think it's important to record those rediscoveries. That's part of why I post my "Museum Dailies" so I don't forget those great moments when I'm bogged down in grant paperwork or Board squabbles.

This moment wasn't a huge, top-of-the-list moment, but worth recording nonetheless. One of my museums is hosting around two hundred seventh graders over the course of eight days in May. This is a new program for us, so I met with the teacher who's coordinating the visit to brainstorm some activities. She suggested an outdoor scavenger hunt, which I thought was a great idea.

Thus, I found myself wandering around the grounds of the museum this afternoon looking for scavenger hunt questions. I found this tag on the big copper beech by the door and it sparked an idea. I'm having the kids look for all of the tagged trees on the museum grounds and record their scientific names. As I said, not a top-of-the-list, "this is why I do what I do" moment, but a nice eureka moment anyway.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Communication Tech

It may not look like much, but I'm hoping this little thing will be a big hit at my Titanic-themed school vacation program in a couple of weeks.  It's a homemade wireless telegraph device.  :)  I'm going to print out copies of the Morse code alphabet and have the kids take turns tapping out messages while the others decipher them.

It's also proof that I can never throw anything in my stuffed supply closet away.  I was thinking something like this might be fun and pondering how to make one.  Then, I poked my head into the closet and found two of these on a shelf!  I guess one of my predecessors must have made it years ago.  Glad I found it in time!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Handling History

Yeah, I spent my day trucking this 334-year old book around town.  Inside the clamshell case is a leather-bound 1678 edition of Anne Bradstreet's "Several Poems."  With me in tow, it visited 150 eighth graders and 8 third and fourth graders.  Now, it's gone back to live in locked, climate-controlled, offsite storage, but I was proud to be part of its day out.  It was pure joy to see the kids' reactions to it.

Monday, April 2, 2012

It's Electric!

A light-filled corner of an exhibit room in one of my museums, filled with 19th century scientific equipment (mostly for doing work with electricity).