Where Have We Been?

And now a message from our Director-Curator, T.H. Gray…


Which will it be?

The Hysterical Society recently awoke from every museum’s nightmare – we went away and no one noticed. There were no comments or emails inquiring after our whereabouts (to be fair we don’t a get a lot emails even during the best of times). We just stopped exhibiting and the world didn’t seem to care. We almost didn’t notice ourselves.

We hardly noticed because we were so busy, we were getting nothing accomplished. You know the feeling. And like most of you, that lack of climax left us frustrated. You definitely know the feeling.

To make up for our lack of originality, we busied ourselves by bringing in traveling exhibits – pieces we had nothing to do with, but they filled space and, hopefully, kept your attention. To make sure we became part of your routine, we also tried to show on a regular schedule, every Tuesday and Saturday (bet you didn’t notice that either).

In looking back, those exhibits were repetitive and ineffective. Traveling exhibits seem to have no real cost. The problem is they were a huge time-suck. By the time we had found enough pieces to fill the next few weeks, there was little creative energy left. So we had to find more pieces to fill in, and on and on and on. This left no time to research and write anything original.

It didn’t help that other colleagues were sharing some of the same pieces, but getting lots more attention. It seemed as though we were all doing the same thing, which means the Hysterical Society wasn’t really contributing anything.

It was all very disheartening. So we stopped. Or rather, we never got around to doing more. We effectively closed for more than a year.

Before it was too late and this became permanent, the staff took a small retreat. We realized several things:

  1. We want to work smarter, not harder.
  2. We would rather create than copy.
  3. The only ones paying attention to the posting schedule was us.

In looking over our visitation records, it became apparent that seven of our top ten shows were original Hysterical Society creations, not copies of other people’s work.

So we’ve made a few decisions. Henceforth(1), the American Hysterical Society will:

  • Exhibit our own work first and foremost, without regard to timelines or deadlines, but when shows are ready.
  • Display historical pieces which fit our mission.
  • Share a round-up of modern works (so you can share them at work and look like the office comedian – consider it our gift to you).

Like all museums, the Hysterical Society is chasing relevance so we can be an important part of your life. Our experience shows that the best way to do that is to be ourselves, no matter how silly or profane.(2)


1. Henceforth is used here to demonstrate our seriousness.
2. Experience also shows we’re most popular when we’re profane.


By the way, these are our top ten exhibits, based on discrete visits:

Museum Professionals Make Terrible Visitors

The Best Public History Museum Studies Program Ever

Historian Meme

Circle Jerks

Create Your Own Bayeux Tapestry

Abusing Curators

Bringing History and Visitors Back to Colonial Williamsburg

Love Lost or Lost Love: Results Of The Museum Professional-Reenactor Compatibility Test

New Mount Vernon President & CEO

Registrar Humor

About T.H. Gray

T.H. Gray is the self-appointed court jester and Dr. Demento for the history museum field. A lifelong museum professional and reenactor, he is a graduate of the prestigious Peale-Barnum Public History Museum Studies Program. Until 2011, when the AHS hired him away, he was on staff at the Benjamin Dover Memorial Museum & Swimming Pool ("Our History is All Wet!"). He remembers when museums were still about history, science, and art. BTW, all of these posts say they are by T.H. Gray because he can't turn off the byline. Credit, when due, is given. View all posts by T.H. Gray

5 responses to “Where Have We Been?

  • William Stender

    Ok for the record I missed you. Actually had a couple of times where I wondered what historically significant rock you had crawled under. With that said I did not notice for a few months, so the moral of the story is you do not need to post twice a week and you do need to wait for inspiration to hit you (preferably not like a 2×4) before you make a new post. Now for my mini rant. I find it unbelievable that the musings of cookie Monster at the Met did not make the top 3, let alone the top 10! Please recheck your visitor logs. Say it aint so!

    And if your Hysterical museum ever needs a corporate sponsor, I would be more than willing to slap a company sticker on the side of your virtual building like so many other defunct Nascar vehicles.

    • T.H. Gray

      First and for the record, you are the first sponsorship off we’ve ever received. Which makes you our number one supporter. Thanks and congratulations!

      Thank you also for the sentiments and the support. It’s heartening to know our collection has had an impact. We must agree, it is a shame that Cookie Monster’s food philosophizing wasn’t more popular. But then such wonderment is easily overlooked nowadays.

      And finally, split amongst the Kensington Stone, the Walum Olum, and the Brandenburg Stone.

  • Nikki

    I noticed. Just sayin’…

    • T.H. Gray

      Thanks. We know the truth, though, that you were just making sure we treated archEOlogists with more respect than we do. And by respect, we of course mean using unnecessary vowels.

  • Lisa Ward

    Likewise, I noticed the lack of updates to my inbox, and assumed that if things were busy, the last thing you needed was nagging!

    (It’s like finding the doors to the museum closed, and asking “Are you closed?”)

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