Your venue is busy busy right now with kids and tourists (at least, I hope so, and I hope they spend some pennies there too) so make sure you keep the good times with you whenever you start to grit your teeth and marvel at the depth of human ignorance!
Sometimes small things happen which remind you why you love working in the museum and heritage sector, sometimes a situation comes out better than you expect, and sometimes... well, sometimes you're given a reason to hide a smile. On the days when a football is being kicked about in the art gallery, or you think all of the signage has turned invisible, take a second to hark back, and put your game face on with a glow in your heart.
How to make a medieval cave and tunnel system more appealing. To a very specific market of small girls.
The caves and tunnels are underground.
Bits of the country have flooded.
Our caves and tunnels are partially flooded.
The electricity has gone to that area. (and even if it hadn't, electricity and water?...)
Even with pumps, the damage to the stone needs to be estimated before it's passed as safe for public access.
There's really not much we can do for you, so getting angry at staff will only make them get increasingly polite and smiley towards you, while also loosing the will to actually help you out.
Through barred and dirty doors, across mausoleum quiet lobbies, and down, down winding stairs to a monument of human ambition fallen foul of progress.
I was recently fortunate enough* to go on one of London Transport Museum's rare tours of the abandoned Aldwych Underground station, originally known as Strand. Why an abandoned tube station? Well, it's a beautiful little time capsule to another age of design, site of many well known film and tv scenes, and a we got a very good little tour giving insights into how the Underground was originally run.
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It's your child's birthday, it's your anniversary, it's your once in a lifetime visit to our country, it's your dad's special birthday, it's your honeymoon.
A special event occasions a special experience; taking a dino mad kid to a natural history exhibition, taking the missus on a guided tour of a stately home. But if you get in touch with a venue a couple of days before you plan to visit, find out that what you want to do or see is fully booked out or unavailable (and advertised as such for months in advance) and then play an emotional blackmail card, the odds are that staff will feel for you - but not be able to do a darn thing about it.
Really, we'll want to help, we'll make suggestions for alternatives, we'll add your name to waiting lists. But if that guided tour is fully booked, we have good (insurance often) reasons why we can't "just squeeze two more on" and if that exhibition is closed we probably can't "let you have a peek" because it'll be covered in dust cloths, hoardings and workmen/curatorial staff, with most of the exhibits missing or not even on display.
I hate saying no to people (I know, I whine a lot here, so that may be a shock) but it hurts knowing there is a disappointed kid whose parents have already said "Yeah! we can do that!" or a new spouse whose ideal honeymoon will be less ideal.
So a plea, if you will, to plan ahead a bit - because at the very least, birthdays happen the same time each year - and the more warning you give your chosen museum, gallery, historic house, castle... the more likely the staff will be able to pull out the stops and make your day awesome.
We want you to be happy, and we want to be the people who make that happen. So plan a little, and we can plan a lot.
Currently recovering with a banana milkshake from the school group visit this morning, who were fantastic. A great example of how teachers can help make a good off site school visit, and make sure everyone has a good time.
It may seem self evident, but these little pointers make a massive difference to how much the students get from a visit, and how much the staff on site are able to do for them. Especially if a school is paying for a visit, every minute spent asking or waiting for students to gather round, shut up, get back on topic etc is a minute where they aren't getting what the school has paid for.
Teachers don't need to do the job of venue staff, but their help is invaluable. The rapport teachers already have with their students is a resource venue staff can use, and can guide students toward a better experience.
Webcomic and occasional blog about the heritage sector.
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