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Thursday, February 24, 2011

The President's House

One of the stops I made in Philadelphia on Sunday was to the President's House, no not the current President, but George Washington's. I thought he lived at Mount Vernon, you might be thinking, and that would not be incorrect, but when he was President, Washington lived in Philadelphia.

Why isn't this place better known? Well, that would be because the house no longer exists as it once did. As with many historic houses, all that remains can be found in the archaeological record. I saw the interpretation of it being constructed in October, and I'm glad to say that it's been completed.

Today, visitors to the President's House can peek into the archaeological record, a sealed section of the excavation is included in the open air exhibition on the house and George Washington's slaves. The exhibition is installed on a skeleton of the house, brick walls, and window frames, to scale of what once existed. It's actually really neat and I recommend checking it out, it's .

Here are some pictures to satisfy your interest:

From the outside looking in.
From the inside looking out. It's great to see so many people actually utilizing the space in some way.
There are videos too, in addition to signage.

Here on the floor are the outlines of where rooms and walls would have stood. Such a neat feature, very clever.
Here's some of the archaeology that was conducted on the site.

I totally recommend stopping by the President's House if you are in Philadelphia. It's right in the middle of some of the biggest tourist sites and across the street from the visitors' center. Stay tuned for more of my Cooperstown-Philly-Maryland adventure.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Short But Sweet Museum Road Trip

Hello Everyone!

I just got back from a wonderful trip, and of course there were museums involved. It inspired me to write, and hopefully you will here more about my adventure soon, but in the meantime, if you have an interest in small museums, work at a small museum, or are thinking about someday working in a small museum, get involved with the Small Museum Association.

Their annual conference was the primary reason for my trip, and I had an absolute blast. In addition to great sessions and a ton of vendors at the resource hall, there was a banquet on Monday night and people could dress in costume if they wanted to. I also met some wonderful people and made some friends. I plan to add more about what I learned at the sessions I went to in the coming days. Just do yourselves a favor and visit SMA's website follow their blog and like them on Facebook. Soon they will be posting podcasts from some of the conference sessions and I highly suggest listening to those when they are released. Go to the conference next year, it's a great value and I'll be there too!

My Road Trip:

Saturday- Cooperstown to Philadelphia, PA.
Sunday- Philadelphia, PA to Ocean City, MD.
Visited: Eastern State Penitentiary, National Constitution Center, and the President's House
Ate at: Jack's Firehouse
Monday- Ocean City, MD
Tuesday- Ocean City, MD to Philadelphia, PA.
Ate at: National Mechanics
Wednesday- Phildadelphia, PA to Cooperstown, NY.
Visited: Franklin Institute and The Woodlands Cemetery

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A New Summer, A New Museum Beginning

Hello everybody. It has been over a year since I last posted on this blog. It was never my intention to leave this blog for that long. I have all of this great stuff to share! Which is possibly why I stopped writing here in the first place, I've had a crazy adventure of a year. It is my goal to update here more often throughout the summer, and I will fill you all in on the many museums I went to, my internship last summer at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, and my first year at the Cooperstown Graduate Program.

On to this summer. I am interning at the Museum at Bethel Woods, in Bethel, NY. This is where Woodstock actually happened! I'm working right at the site! I'm so excited. I start on Monday. Wish me luck!

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Twitter Reflection

I have now been in the ranks of the twittering masses for just over two months. These are my observations of successful (and not so successful) twitter usage by museums (and related people and organizations) thus far. I will provide the names of those museums I feel are doing well, but at this time it is not my place to call out museums I feel are not doing the greatest job. (What can I say, I'm non-confrontational and am not in the position to ruffle feathers.) Anyhow, on to the post.

One of the things I love is the museum that provides interesting tidbits about goings on in the museum. The Shelburne Musuem in Shelburne, VT is one of my favorite twittering musuems (@ShelburneMusuem). Why? Because I want to know more about the museum than just what events are happening and. Yes some advertising of events is acceptable, since spreading the word is always good and twitter is certainly an outlet for it, but I want to know more than just that. I loved being told by @ShelburneMuseum that "The turtles have emerged! Collections Asst. Nick rescued one that was trying to cross the road in front of the Covered Bridge." I followed the painstaking process of restoring a Tiffany settee, and the pouring of the lighthouse foundation. Things like this made me like the museum that much more.

So rule No. 1 in twittering about museums is to provide something extra about the museum that one would not be able to find out otherwise. It is easy enough to look at a museum's event calendar to figure out what is going on (although friendly reminders don't hurt as long as it doesn't dominate the twitter stream). I look forward to tweets from @ShelburneMuseum because of this something extra, and the next time I'm up in Vermont when it's open (season starts May 17th) I know where I want to go.

Rule No. 2 in twittering is to not do the opposite of what @ShelburneMuseum is doing. Please do not tweet solely about upcoming events. I can find out about them elsewhere.

Rule No. 3 is to not heavily rely upon bots. What are bots? Autobots (no not the kind from The Transformers) as they are also referred to as are programs that search for tags on news stories, or anything really, and if the particular tag matches what is being searched the bot (hooked up to the twitter account) will tweet the link to the story. This often ends up in a tweet looking like *tag being searched* "partial article title..." link to story. What gets really annoying is when these searches occur all at the same time so in a span of a few minutes 5, 10 or more tweets come from one account, blocking up the stream. I like the idea of there being a real human behind the tweeting. This in no way is me saying I don't want to get links to something newsworthy online. I do, I just don't want them automatically given to me. I much rather prefer someone writing Found this museum news article interesting: link to story.

No. 4 Respond to those who reply to you through @ tweeting (where the @ symbol is placed in front of the twitter name, for example @museummusings). These messages show up in the sidebar under the aptly named @youraccountname, making replying to others easy. Now I know this rule is not always followed and I certainly understand why for some institutions it is not feasible. Sometimes the personpower isn't there and sometimes there are just too many questions/comments/suggestions to reply to them all. I do suggest replying to some when one can. I also suggest the Direct Message feature and have gotten numerous direct messages from museums just thanking me for following them. Things like this create a good relationship between follower and tweeter and I feel retains followers. I certainly appreciate them. The museum groups that sent me Direct Messages just for following them are @ShelburneMuseum, @heardmuseum, @metmuseum, @EngineMuseum, and @fordstheatre.

I also recommend using the established protocol of the hashtag #followfriday in which a tweet consists of other twitter accounts that you recommend following. The trend is to provide 5 of them. So even though today is Monday, I recommend following (in addition to myself and the accounts above): @TheWomensMuseum, @MuseumMaknMusic, @tenementmuseum, @fieldmuseum, and @GettyMuseum. There are many more museum related twitterers out there. Just search for Museum on twitter and go from there.

There has been much discussion in the museum world about this too. Multiple people have discussed twitter and its benefits on Museum-L and numerous tips on how to utilize it properly have been included. Apparently there are also podcasts on iTunes that deliver tips on how to effectively use twitter, although I have not used them. Connecting with others who share common interests and is a good thing in the museum world: person to person, museum to museum, museum to person. I maintain my stance blogged previously that twitter has the unique potential to reach the masses thereby expanding a museums presence in the virtual world.

Hello to all and today especially to those who found me via twitter.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Been Busy

Hi Everyone-

No worries, I have not forgotten this blog, it has been a very crazy few weeks. So I figured I would update you all on what has been going on with me, most of which is school/museum related.

First, I will be graduating from my undergraduate college in less than two weeks as Valedictorian. It was a wonderful surprise. I just finished my speech that I will be delivering at the Honors and Awards ceremony the day before graduation.

Second, I received an internship at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. I will be working for 10 weeks in the Collections Department. I am beyond excited, this is by far my favorite museum dedicated to a particular topic. Baseball is also my favorite sport. There will be numerous posts as the summer progresses on my life at the museum. Also cool? I get to help out with the baseball related events like the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

Third, I will be staying in the Cooperstown area for the next two years as I was accepted into the Cooperstown Graduate Program for History of Museum Studies. It's the only program I applied to and am so glad to be a part of it. Just think, the more I learn, the better this blog will become!

On that note I do have 3 blog posts in the works, so stay tuned.


~Maria

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Newsworthy Update

During a previous entry, I wrote about how the Touro Synagogue had to stop giving tours because of economic troubles.

Today, it was announced that tours would resume at Touro Synagogue with the help of volunteers. That story can be found here off of the (NBC) turn to 10 website.

Take home message of the story (other than Yay!): VOLUNTEER.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Coraline - A Book Review

Over the past week, I finished the book Coraline by Neil Gaiman. It was recommended to me by my best friend and since I had just seen the movie, I figured it would be a good time to read it (that and it has been forever since I've sat down and read a book from start to finish. I just looked and my last book review was on Feb 9 and that book wise is a ridiculously long time ago, although I did start two books that I haven't finished between then and now.) Neil Gaiman could easily become one of my favorite authors once I begin to read more of his books, seeing that Coraline is the only one I have read. Mirrormask, a movie which came out in 2005, was written by Gaiman; I totally recommend that movie, especially if you liked movies like the Dark Crystal and the Labyrinth.

Anyhow, Coraline is a book about a young girl named, you guessed it, Coraline. I am typing that correctly too, in case you haven't heard of the book or movie, her name is not Caroline and this does play a part in the book, although knowing the character's name, I almost continuously read the book as Coraline even when Caroline was on the page. Coraline moves into a flat converted from part of an old house with her parents. Her parents seem ever busy and a bit clueless as to what to do with Coraline, so Coraline goes off exploring her new surroundings by herself. She explores the property and meets the new neighbors and then she finds a door in her flat that when opened leads to nothing but a brick wall separating her flat from another. But that's what happens only sometimes. When she opened the door again the brick wall was gone and she enters what I imagine to be a very creepy and supernatural air duct and finds herself in a mirrored version of her own flat, complete with parents. These parents take complete interest in her, almost as if their world revolves around her, and even the neighbors get her name right. These parents however have buttons for eyes and tell Coraline that she can stay with them if she accepts her own set of button eyes.

Instead Coraline asks to go home, which these other parents agree to, but when she gets to her real home, she finds her parents missing. Coraline knows that her "Other Mother" must have stolen them. So she goes back to her "Other Flat" to rescue them. Throw in three dead children locked behind a mirror and an unlikely ally in a talking cat, and you have one creepy, but very smart and creative, story.

What children would see as a story about a courageous girl trying to save her parents, adults probably would find this book to be a bit darker. The button eyes alone were enough to creep me out. I think that this is one of the stronger elements of the story as it is often difficult to write a children's book that can truly appeal to adults on a different level. This clearly is a demonstration of Gaiman's talent, but I'll hold out on any more judgement until I read another one of his books.

There are numerous parts of the movie that closely follow the book, but new elements were added in, to what benefit I'm not sure now having read the book. Since I saw the movie first, I actually enjoyed these additions including Wybie, a boy near Coraline's age who plays an important part in the movie (even though the role is somewhat small), and a doll that looks exactly like Coraline, only with buttons for eyes, that Wybie gives to her after finding it at his grandmother's house. As creepy as the doll is, it didn't play much of a role in the movie, and isn't in the book at all, so beyond it tying into Wybie's character and his believing in Coraline, I wasn't disappointed by this change from book to movie. I was a bit disappointed however that Wybie's character was not in the book (most likely stemming from my having seen the movie first, had it been the other way around I probably would have thought that he was an unnecessary element). I still recommend seeing it, especially in 3D (totally worth the extra money for that format).