On How Museums Got Under My Skin

Gosh, it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. Last year was a busy one, to say the least: I spent the first half of the year finishing off my thesis, and then almost immediately began working full time. There’s also been a big and slightly disconcerting change in my life — for the first time in 14 years, I am neither studying, nor working in, museums. I’ve also had very little time to visit museums, so at the moment I’m feeling a bit like there’s a gaping, museum-shaped hole in my life. [Read More]

Observation Notes: Not All Bones are Dinosaurs

Over the past couple of years I’ve spent a lot of time at the wonderful Oxford University Museum of Natural History, where I’m carrying out my PhD research. Although the bulk of my research has involved getting four- and five-year-olds to take photographs for me, I have spent almost as much time wandering around and around the museum, observing visitors more generally. I really love doing observations. I think it’s easy to imagine that most museum visits are quite mundane — we see the other visitors milling around, or we mill around ourselves, and everything blends into the hubbub of the crowds. [Read More]

100 Languages of Visitors

I said “Do you speak-a my language?” / He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich — Land Down Under, Men at Work When I worked in a museum in multicultural Birmingham (UK), myself and the other staff would sometimes worry about whether or not we should provide any of the museum text or leaflets in additional languages other than English. Since starting my PhD I’ve gone back to thinking about the languages used in museums, but my concept of language has changed somewhat. [Read More]