Summary: Museum Archipelago is your audio guide through the landscape of museums.
The New Orleans Committee to Erect Historic Markers on the Slave Trade has recently put up two new markers, one on the transatlantic slave trade along the Moonwalk and another on the domestic slave trade at the intersection of Esplanade Avenue and Chartres Street. Author and historian Freddi Williams Evans and activist Luther Gray are the two original co-chairs of the committee. In this episode, Evans and Gray describe New Orleans’s past as the center of the overlapping international and domestic slave trades. They also discuss their conservation efforts at Congo Square, the logistics of erecting the markers with a sankofa bird instead of a pelican at the top, and the Maafa ceremony, which will host the unveiling of these markers later this year. This episode was recorded on May 10, 2018 in New Orleans. Committee members mentioned in this episode are Guy Hughes, Leon Waters, Ibrahima Seck, Erin Greenwald, Joshua Rothman, Joyce Miller, and Midlo Hall. Steve Prince designed the logo for the transatlantic marker.
David Scofield, director of the Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village, describes how the museum is designed to connect the big changes in how people lived through 16000 years of history. The Meadowcroft Rockshelter opens for its 50th season on May 5th, 2018. It is part of the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pennsylvania.
Each episode features a different hot topic in the conservation world, and the podcast stands out for its hosts willingness to tackle complex topics. In this episode, the hosts discuss whether photos are data or objects, the Digitized Photograph Project at the Rwandan Genocide Memorial Centre, and museums asking people to bring in their own objects. For new listeners, Mathiasson and Rumsey recommend starting with S01E01: Demographics.
James Delbourgo, professor of History of Science and Atlantic World at Rutgers University, is the author of Collecting the World: Hans Sloane and the Origins of the British Museum. In this episode, Delbourgo describes Sloane’s formative years in Jamaica, how his collection was an attempt to catalogue the wonders and intricacies of a divine creation, and how the British Museum, which opened in 1759, came into being as a result of the terms Sloane laid down in his will. Delbourgo also discusses how Sloane’s idea of universal public access to his collections remains radical to this day.
From her 2016 talk at the American Institute for Conservation’s Annual Meeting, to teaching her students how to interrogate an object in person, to her Untold Stories project, Balachandran has thought critically about the role of conservators. In this epsiode, Balachandran talks about her early formative experiences in the field of conservation and how whether or not someone’s history is worth preserving is a deeply political decision.
It would have been much easier to build the National Public Housing Museum from scratch instead of building it in the last remaining building of the Jane Addams Homes, one of the first public housing development in Chicago. But doing so would have undermined the core principles of the museum: that place has power.
Bill Bradberry, the President and Chairman of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Area Commission, thinks of the entire city of Niagara Falls, NY as an open crime scene from “the crime of holding people in bondage, and the man-made crime of trying to escape.” With Canada just across the Niagara river, the Commission conducts research on the Underground Railroad as it relates to Niagara Falls and the surrounding area — for some, the last terminus in the United States. The Commission will open the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center on May 4th, 2018. Bradberry hopes that the center will show the full story, from black waiters at hotels helping enslaved people escape while serving their enslaves with duplicitous professionalism to massive brawls breaking out between abolitionists and bounty hunters. In this episode, Bradberry talks about situating previously unknown stories into our understanding of the Underground Railroad, discovering the lack of non-white faces in the museum world he has recently entered, and his plan to change that.
The comics show confused visitors, tourists asking the same questions over and over again, and museum board members flouting the rules. The writer and illustrator behind Attendants View has been creating comics about her experiences in museums for the past seven years. About 60% of the comics are about something that has happened to her or around her personally, and the rest come from stories colleagues and others have told her. She wants anyone to feel comfortable sharing their experiences with her; for this and other reasons, she has chosen to remain anonymous for this interview. By sharing experiences through the medium of comics, Attendants View hopes to demystify various museum jobs. In this episode, Attendants View talks about her creative process, the changes in her professional role, and voluntarism in museums. To read her excellent comics, visit the Attendants View blog here.
Dr. Hartmann thinks museums too often tell the visitor what to think. She would rather use visitors’ responses to the galleries as a starting point to further discussions. At the Erotic Heritage Museum, there is a lot to react to: a statue of Donald Trump next to a galley of political, religious, and celebrity personalities connected to sex scandals; a huge collection of erotic artifacts from around the world; and a wall full of posters from the January 21st 2017 Las Vegas Women's March. In this episode, Dr. Hartmann talks about the inherently political nature of sex, exhibit development with a diverse staff in positions of authority, and what visitors imagine when they hear the word museum.
Hannah Hethmon, an American museum professional and Fulbright Fellow living in Reykjavík, was interested in this abundance of museums and the nature of museum tourism in Iceland. Her Fulbright project is the podcast Museums in Strange Places, which explores these topics. In each episode, Hannah brings listeners through a different museum through the stories of the people who work there. In this episode, Hannah talks about what the tourist boom means for Icelandic museums, what makes museums on this island unique, and what is next for her podcast. For new listeners, Hannah recommends starting with episode 3: A Writer’s Home.
What humans left behind on the moon are part of our human heritage, on par with Laetoli and Lascaux. Unlike human heritage sites on earth, the lunar landing sites are pristine, completely untouched by natural erosion or human disruption. But the lunar landing sites are also unprotected. On earth, protecting heritage sites is a national affair: countries nominate sites within their own territory to be recognized by UNESCO. Sites on the moon are technically nobody’s territory, so no country can nominate the landing sites, including the six Apollo bases. The people behind For All Moonkind are designing the legal framework to protect and preserve these human heritage sites.
The title is a play on words — linking the Spanish word “museos” with the Latin verb “we have.” Since the show is on a popular radio station, Habemus team members Romina Frontini and Christian Díaz say it’s up to them to introduce museum topics to a general audience. In this episode, Romina Frontini and Christian Díaz talk about their project and their ideologies. After listening to this podcast, you can stream their program at http://www.urbana939.com.ar.
Visitors of Color is a Tumblr project that documents the perspectives and experiences of marginalized people in museums. It is a record of what the museum experience can be like for people who are often discussed but whose voices are rarely privileged, people that don’t feel welcome in museums, and people that don’t feel like nearby museum spaces are for them. In this episode, Dr. Moore discusses the Museum Computer Network conference where the project launched, the museum-visiting habits of freshmen at a Historically Black College, and how Visitors of Color has been received by the wider museum community.
We should pay close attention to mental map matching. Museum visitors have their own sense of geography and marked by their own lived experiences. What feels like an important city landmark to one person isn’t even on the radar for another. To account for this, museums should approach maps in the same way that an online mapping service does: by making rules about what categories of landmarks appear at different zoom levels, and then letting the software take over. With the help of digital tools, we can work toward a map that draws on a hierarchy of categories instead of our personal experience.
Executive Director of the Cambridge Historical Society Marieke Van Damme affectionately calls anyone working in the museum field “Museum People.” On her excellent podcast of the same name, she interviews museum people every episode. Many museum people are museum workers. In 2016, together with other noted museum professionals (Sarah Erdman, Claudia Ocello and Dawn Estabrooks Salerno), Marieke asked why museum workers leave the field. Last month, they published a summary of the findings titled, Leaving the Museum Field. As Marieke explains, she always knew that working in the museum field is hard. Museum workers face difficult conditions, and some of the very same things that make working in the museum field desirable (passion for the mission) contribute to the bad (discriminatory societal and economic systems, student loans, intense job competition). Marieke has had countless conversation that begin, “I love working in museums, but I don’t think I can do it anymore because of [insert reason here]”. Leaving the Museum Field is now the most-viewed article on the AAM Alliance blog since it launched a year ago. Through her research, Marieke tries to better understand the difficult conditions museum workers face. Though her projects like Joyful Museums, she provides resources and writings about inspiring positive workplace culture.