Not very exciting, eh?
They really matter to your visitors if you work at almost any venue open to the public, (you probably know this) and it can be surprisingly easy to overlook them as a factor in visitor satisfaction. With Covid-19, cleanliness and shared spaces are now even more of a concern, and that means your toilets really matter more than ever.
There's some very interesting and useful information in this Youtube video about what will help visitors feel confident and comfortable in visiting your site when it reopens after lockdown. Graphs, and data, and everything! Have a gander, and perhaps pass it to those making the decisions, if it's not yourself.
Some parts of the internet are just awful, little breeding pits for spite and horror. But then, you find those gems, those people or accounts who are just smart, supportive, informative, or plain old silly.
You may know of the Museum of English Rural Life as the twitter account where the staff, being allowed to have some fun, ended up with an absolute unit of a sheep go viral. It was unusual to say the least. The Mary Rose twitter people are also allowed some leeway for levity, bringing personality to their account. Attendant's VIew, urm, does what it likes, there's no managerial oversight here, just me spouting nonsense and ocassinally getting insenced at things.
Fine folks, let me take you on a journey with The Mary Rose...
It’s been a bit quiet around here, and I feel it’s worth explaining, rather than just letting the dust gather.
The reasons are threefold really.
I’m told less and less about the fantastic kids a FOH worker dealt with, or the comedic actions of colleagues, and more and more about the frustrations. The sad side of staff feeling undervalued, overworked and under-resourced by an increasingly financially squeezed workplace. Or outright redundant, and now scrabbling for one of the few paid roles remaining.
When looking for advice and support online about recording a collection, and creating accompanying documentation, from almost scratch:
Most Sources: Hire a trained Archivist.
Me: Do you think I'd be searching the internet if that was an option?
Display label is missing from display.
Can't insert head into the cabinet at the right angle to see if it's dropped behind the display plinth.
Use phone to take a photo down the back of the plinth, to find the label is there.
Dob blue tack onto name badge, and use phone camera feed to see where to aim it behind the plinth.
Successfully stick name badge to display label and pull both out.
Replace display label in correct location.
Feel proud of ingenuity.
Realise no-one is around to recognise achievement.
Go and treat self to posh coffee to celebrate.
I'm not a raging Star Wars fan, perhaps a bit more so than the usual bod on the street, so the May The Toys Be With You
exhibition at Leicester museum pricked my attention, and was also a great way to catch up with two Star Wars fans and small child at the same time.
Rather than trying (and inevitably failing) to write a polished review, this is going to be the first of my “Explaining it in a pub” reviews. Essentially, the near stream of consciousness I'd give if you asked me “How was that place you went to? Worth it?”
We were excited as we entered the Exhibition space, the first few cabinets had some familiar and some unusual toys, and quickly made a direct connection to a local manufacturer, which helped the exhibition feel genuinely relevant rather than just a crowd pleaser. We could see there were lots of cabinets, well set out with space for excited kids, plus large decals on the otherwise white walls.
That silence you hear?
That's the blissful silence of a room not full of 11 to 16 year old children.
Because they just ran through half of the museum like a swarm of whooping vermin and are now two rooms away.
Dear teacher, if you have just entered the room and are greeted by blissful silence, that's probably an indicator that your students are in another room.
If your students are in another room, you are no longer accompanying them on their visit.
Now is not the time for you to take a slow and gentle stroll, engrossed in each cabinet's contents.
Please don't look at me like that when I ask you to be in the same room as them.
It's not my fault that you bought a group of howler monkeys into a public space, who glared at me with barely veiled disdain and amusement when I asked them to stop running and shouting, and pointed out all of the glass hazards and other visitors.
Asking your oldest student to make sure the others don't go into the third room is a sort of solution.
Half your students are now accompanied, the other half are now only one room away. Which is an improvement.
Eight students are leaning on a set of doors, obeying "Don't go in that room yet" while also forming an attractive barricade.
There are another couple chasing each other in circles around a glass cabinet.
There's no education session or tour arranged, but trying to get them on board with not just running and yelling is worth a try.
Attempts to engage them in looking at things and taking an interest in anything for more than ten seconds is greeted by sullen silence, or flickering mayfly attention spans accompanied by yelled exclamations, or flat out walking away to annoy each other.
The teacher, now in the room, is vaguely apologetic, and haphazard in any attempt to regain control.
Yes, they are obviously enjoying themselves. But not really in any way I'd describe as positive.
Shouting "That looks like your minger sister! Minger! Minger! Minger!" is, in a way, engaging with the exhibits.
Hang on, those six kids in the cafe... Oh, so they are part of the school group, but were slow eating lunch and the teacher decided they could catch up once finished.
Shall we revisit - If your students are in another room, you are no longer accompanying them on their visit?
The awkward moment when your museum finds that a local facebook page has been cheerfully copy/pasting your facebook events to create Their Own event pages, because they think it'll help your events reach more people.
What is mainly seems to do is reach people, confuse them, and make them frustrated over unanswered questions in the event discussion section.
Why didn't we answer your question on the event page? We weren't notified about a question on the event page. There isn't a question on the event page. Oh, that's a link to an event page which isn't ours. But looks exactly like our event page...
Road to hell, best intentions, paving, and all that.
I'd like your good museum stories!
I mentioned while chatting with a representative from Museums Journal that museum staff should embrace and shout out more about the good things which happen to them. Because it's those moments that keep us going, and often tip the day massively back into the light again.
I'd like to turn some of your "then suddenly the noisy kids were engrossed" or "my colleagues bough me flowers" into cartoons which show the rewarding side and beauty of working in museums and galleries.
Please comment here, drop me a message on my contact form, or let me know on Facebook or Twitter!
You can be anonymous if you like (I know most of you prefer that) or open about who, what and where. It's your choice.
1. Lengthy series of emails as we establish with someone planning a visit what we can and can't provide for them.
1.5. They engage emotional blackmail to try and get what they want.
2. We reach an understanding. In which we carefully aren't going outside of the bounds of what we offered to begin with.
3. They are happy, but tell us to contact someone else, now organising the visit.
3.5. We wonder why we have to contact them, not them us, but, OK.
4. We contact them, nervously including the line "Hopefully you are up to speed on the discussions with your colleague."
5. An entirety different person contacts us, to say they're running the visit.
6. They ask for THE EXACT SAME THINGS we refused to do for the first person.
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