As part of a temporary exhibition there were very clever manikins set up with projectors, so that the blank face became a talking projection of an actor. It scared countless adults witless (to the howling delight of their less shocked friends) and left some children too traumatized to see the full exhibition.
Well travel fans, I need some advice...
Later this year I'm being hauled onto a cruise, so do any of you have cunning advice for day trips to: Lisbon, Gibraltar. Barcelona, Ibiza, Cartagena and Cádiz?
I'm hoping to find some things away from the hordes, so any historic hideaways, gems of local interest or good guided tours... I'm hoping that if I start to get ideas now, I can plan around the rest of the extended family with greater ease, so any advice?
You may have heard about the chap who has a smashing time in an art gallery, deliberately dropping a vase by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, supposedly in protest that the Florida based museum didn't show enough local work. Part of the art exhibition shows an image of Ai Weiwei dropping an ancient Chinese vase and breaking it, so the artist decided "to join him in an act of performance protest." Not thinking through that the vase he was smashing was a $1 million dollar piece of art, and that he'd get criminal charges as a result.
More on the story here with a great "ho hum, I just smashed that" video of the incident happening, which makes the artist look like a toddler waiting to be told off, (as seen in above picture from the BBC) and more quotes from the artist here. It reminded me a lot of a chap we had in our art gallery once...
What really caught my eye was this amazing snippet of statement from the museum:
"As an art museum dedicated to celebrating modern and contemporary artists from within our community and around the world, we have the highest respect for freedom of expression. But this destructive act is vandalism and disrespectful to another artist and his work, to Pérez Art Museum Miami, and to our community."
I love whoever crafted that release to perfectly balance creative expression vs. being a little s*ht.
That quote came from here and is a masterly example of politely dissing someone in posh language.
Mr Ai joined in a similar way by explaining that when he was photographed smashing vases, it was "a little different".
"The work I work on [does] not belong to a museum or other people's property. I never tried to destroy a museum piece - those vases belong to me. He can drop whatever he likes to drop, but not other people's property."
There is undoubtedly a big debate behind this with the old 'what is art' debate, and was the artist right to express himself illegally and at the cost of another's creative output being destroyed (I'm a big fan of good street art, so the illegal/eyesore/property debate interests me) But put all that aside, and just admire the structuring of those two responses to his act, which boil down beautifully between the lines to say "twit".
Asked of Wollaton Hall and Deer park in Nottingham:
This is probably a silly question, but are there actually deer at the deer park?
Well, not that daft I suppose given that Nottingham Castle is really a sort of emptied out ducal mansion. The deer park does have magnificent deer though. They chase the sillier tourists who forget just how big and tetchy wild animals can be up close.
We often get phone calls and emails from visitors who seem to want us to plan their entire trip, assuming that we have encyclopedic knowledge of local hotel availability, travel times... We always help were we can, as is appropriate, and I assume that other staff in other venues do the same. Some visitors just can't draw the line though, as this email I recieved shows:
Some of your 'agh!' type stories make me think you'll get this.
A bloke called me today who banged on about how much his wife wanted to come to our gallery, but he didn't, so he wanted to plan a day in their holiday for her to travel off alone with their daughter, and could I help.
He asked me to suggest travel for visiting us, he then asked me to check the times "because we're in the hotel and I don't have internet access". Then he asked me to book the tickets "because you've got that information in front of you now, so it seems a shame to mess about. I'm happy to read my credit card details to you."
I said I couldn't do that, because it's really not appropriate, or safe for him, but i could give him a phone number for the train people, or I could email the details to his hotel and he could ask the reception to help. He banged on some more about how much the exhibition means to his wife, and again I said I couldn't provide this service, so he offered to PAY me to do it. When I said no again, he offered to send the cash with his wife "so your work won't know".
I said that as a council staff member, I would loose my job if I used his credit card details, because of fraud, and they monitor computer use, so they would know I'd put his card details into a website, and I love my job, and it would be really hard to get another job like it. He apologised loads, said he didn't want to upset me, and gave me his phone number "in case they monitor calls and you're worried they've heard this."
The guy working next to me heard about a quarter of my side of the call, and then tried to calm me down because he thought I was really worried about my job!
It's a constant source of surprise, even though it happens so often, the confusion between museum/gallery/visitor centre staff and tourist information staff, and the persistence of some people even when the limitations of what is possible are explained, and alternatives are suggested. I've never been offered cash though, I wonder if I'm doing something wrong?... ;)
(The location of the gallery and type of exhibition were included in the message, I've removed these details though in case they help identify the venue, and the bewildered staff member.)
The 1980's was my favorite answer. Because when you are 8, that was forever ago.
Just had this group in, so a quick lunchtime sketch of the cuties, who were so eager and excited that they would cheerfully answer any question with almost absolute certainty, regardless of the answer they were giving.
The question here is paraphrased, as it included a description of what we call a period of history (like the Tudors) and asked about a period of history we study "in a hot and dry country, with lots of gods and goddesses, where they buried their kings and queens with all their treasure"
I was looking for Egyptians, which they correctly yelled as soon as I made a pyramid shape with my hands.
A large group of young adults who were perhaps best described as delinquents (we weren't privy to if they were criminal or otherwise, but it was some manner of scheme that they HAD to attend) came to spend the day looking into the art collection, as part of a service run by the education team .
The results were exciting to say the least, as although some displayed interest in the works, and engaged as best they could, most were blatantly disinterested and some were very disruptive in a 'war of attrition' manner. Nothing serious enough to get thrown out, but a continual barrage of noise, rudeness and disregard for others.
This was an argument between the two external group leaders, one of whom had reached the stage where she wanted to read the riot act to the disruptive element. It is a hard line to tread, and one I'm glad I didn't have to make the call on. It was funny to see that the more 'fluffy' woman was the one who most frequently yelled across the room.
We offer visitors a facility they can reserve in advance, and during some weekends and peak periods it is fully booked out.
"Fully booked!? Well surely you can fit our group in? There's only 8 of them and I did promise him he could visit for his birthday. He's been showing his friends your website and talking about what he'll do there, he's even asked his dad if he'll bring the camera so he can video their visit..."
"We have some space the following day?"
"Well that's not really good enough. That's not on his birthday."
Well perhaps you should have thought about checking with us first before you promised your son something you can't fulfill.
Oh, and checking more than about four days in advance helps as well.
The mocking and often terribly spot on blog Peabody's Lament have given me a moment of 'squee' by mentioning Attendant's View on their blog and adding us to their links page. So hello if you've joined here from over there!
"The mission of the American Hysterical Society is to condemn, profane, and indulge the history and museum professions."
I'd certainly advise checking out their page, as they write original posts, flag up museums and galleries related stories, and post up historical and museums related clips and images. It's very tongue in cheek, with a healthy disrespect for stuffiness and a fine tone of voice to express the fears and exasperation often felt throughout the sector. Grab a brew and have a browse.
Webcomic and occasional blog about the heritage sector.
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