Tag Archives: Weekend Work

Weekend Work 10-26-15: Effective Signage, Paper Playing, Curating Visitors, Authenticating the Morning After, Holiday Gifts, and a BS Historian

Over the last few weeks we have found so many wonderful new additions to the Hysterical Society’s collection which we want to share. However, like most new museum acquisitions, they need additional research and interpretation, both of which require time. You can’t just exhibit a collection of vintage prints and expect everyone to understand them. Unless you believe that such collections speak for themselves (pro tip: they don’t).

While our curatorial team is busy pulling together their various researches, here are a few ponderful items they have found, which don’t quite fit our mission but are of interest anyway.

These are perhaps the most compelling wayfinding and interpretive signs you’ll see today.

Richard McCor’s Paperboyo is a collection of his analogue enhancements of famous places.

Recreating 15th Century Flemish-Style Portraits In the Airplane Lavatory– the title says it all.

For all that many museums care visitors can come dressed as a pig, so long as they visit.

In August the Wall Street Journal published this article, Still Life With Badly Dressed Museum-Goer, wherein they likened museum visitors to swine.

A British art historian questions a $5 million artpiece’s “authenticity” based on the wrinkles in the sheets.

For $85 you can get the Jewish paleontologist in your life the perfect gift.

A historian’s job is to be both skeptical and critical. Few do it better than one of our favorites, the BS Historian: Sceptical Commentary on Pseudohistory and the Paranormal

Weekend Work 7-18-2015: A Jokeworm, Some Links, Alarming News, & Jilted By the Junto (AGAIN)

There are jokes which you don’t laugh at, but are so insidious that they will come to mind when you least expect and want it. This is one of them:

Shouldn’t the Air and Space museum be empty?

We’re confident the next time you visit or someone mentions the NASM you’ll repeat this. You are welcome.

As ever, we have been hard on the lookout for new collections items. We recently added a few new items to our Links Page, including:

Under “Art”

  • Ikea b4-XVI (Ikea’s pre-1650 ideas to redecorate your home)
  • What They See (life from art’s POV)
  • Ugly Renaissance Babies (which needs no explanation).

Under “Museums” (our new favorite)

  • The Conservator – Versus Life…

Since security is a key goal for any museum, most museums have alarms and security protocols in place. Larger museums do much of that in-house, but smaller museums rely on security providers for their peace of mind. Unfortunately, that company’s alarm isn’t the “magical force field” we hope it is.

As many of you know, the Broadway show Hamilton: An American Musical is soon to open. The junior Americanists over at the The Junto evidently reviewed it on their blog and then, at the request of the producers, removed it soon after. No explanation or even snarky comment about how “Hollywood” (or in this case, Broadway) does things. Since they didn’t do that, we did it for them.

But, as you can see in the screen capture below, our question (from T.H. Gray) was aimed at the Juntoists.

Less than 18 hours later, the same paged look like this

We’re not surprised that this particular bit of sarcasm in the form of our question was removed. It’s certainly not the usual comment posted on a very serious academic blog. However, what is both puzzling and troubling is that the Juntoists seem too quick to delete things, either because someone has asked them to (the Hamilton post) or because they don’t like the flavor of the interaction (our question above and this comment of ours from last year).

We would love to delve into their reasons for doing all of this, but we are fairly confident that they would delete anything we asked.

Weekend Work 12-1-14: The Deaccession Debates Continue (With Our Help), Kids Movies are Research, The Real Discoverers of America, and Indiana Jones is a Bad Man


This is perhaps a more nuanced discussion than ours.

This is perhaps a more nuanced discussion than ours.

Culturegrrl is at it again, renewing her call for legislation to prevent museums from monetizing collections through deaccessioning. While Culturegrrl is for more legislation, our umbrella organizations are against it, and the rest of us are somewhere between them. Though we here at the Hysterical Society are immune to such discussions (we have no physical collection to accession and thus potentially deaccession), we have thought about both sides of this issue, including reflections upon the current and possible legal standards and actions and the field’s ability to self-govern. We don’t expect our work will settle any of these issues, but we do think it will help fully and disinterestedly explain these deacession debacles.

Curators finally have a reason to watch kids movies, which they’re been doing all along, but now they can call it research.

While it might be a fake news show, it’s real news: Check out the Colbert Report’s coverage of recent research into the real discoverers of America (go to 4:22).

And finally, if you’ve been glamorizing Indian Jones’s approach to archeology, you should stop.




Weekend Work 11-17-14: New Links, Lots of Skin (Sorta NSFW), & Comment Blocking

Why are history people notoriously bad with deadlines? Maybe it’s because we think of everything in decades and centuries. Or it’s because we’re too busy reading and too timid to write anything. Or because some of the calendars we use are a little dated.

According to this extremely accurate calendar it's only been four weeks, not four months, since our last weekend work post.

According to this extremely accurate calendar it’s only been four weeks, not four months, since our last weekend work post.

The truth is we have been very busy reading. Fortunately, since the Hysterical Society doesn’t have a board, or funders, or meetings of any kind deadlines are dead to us. It’s a great way to work. We can’t recommend it enough.

Amongst the many pieces we’ve found during our various researches are the Captioned Adventures of George Washington, Duggoons (artoons), and People Behaving Appropriately in Art Museums. You can find these and many, many more on our Links page. As always if you have an addition to our links please feel free to email us at thgray at yahoo dot com.

It seems art has been very inspirational lately. First, in honor of his 62nd birthday, twelve classically-inspired scenes were created showing Vladimir Putin as Hercules facing the challenges of the modern world. Hercules, as you may know, died from a poisoned shirt, which might explain why Putin prefers this look

Secondly, inspired by Kim Kardashian’s latest pictorial, the Metropolitan Museum tweeted their own attempt to break the internet using prehistoric art.

Who do you think was more successful?


Lastly, we wanted to share a very personal story. Since the Internet is a haven for free speech and open sharing, we at the Hysterical Society spend time displaying some of our collection in the comments sections of relevant posts on other blogs. As you might expect (but we never do) some bloggers don’t appreciate our work. A few have even  deleted or rejected our submission. This happened again recently on The Junto, a group blog made up of junior early Americanists who really want to be senior early Americanists. They posted an overview of one member’s attempts to establish a public history program at the University of New Hampshire. We shared the following text and item from our collection in their comments field:

We feel that before establishing a new history, public history, museum studies program, or the the like, all concerned should read the following:


Our comment was published and then unceremoniously deleted. We don’t understand why. It’s not as if we said the world doesn’t need more public history programs, or that public history is more concerned with theories on connecting the public to history than actually doing it, or that public history people are so self-obsessed they can’t but help work the words “public history” into every conversation they have. We didn’t say any of that. Even though it’s all true.

So much for an open and free exchange of ideas.

Weekend Work 7-21-14: A New Collections Item, A Few Bits of Interest, and Joyful Museuming

Like many museums, there is a fine line between what we actually collect and what it seems we collect. Fortunately we have a well-defined mission statement.

As we're an online museum we're trying to make sure we don't develop a digital version of this.

As we’re an online museum we’re trying to make sure we don’t develop the digital equivalent of this.

For instance, we just added a great cartoon series Johnson & Boswell to the history section of our Links page. The artist puts Boswell and Johnson (and their various bon mots) into anachronistic situations throughout time to humorous effect without trying to educate or interpret history.

At the same time we found Johson & Boswell, we ran across the museum, history, and art sites below, all of  which use humor, but do so with the serious intention of passing along actual content or informed opinion.

Cathedral-Licking Diary

The Grumpy Art Historian

Standup For Woodhorn Museum’s comedian in residence

These sites are all fun, but they don’t meet our mission. At least we don’t think they do (don’t look too closely at the contents of our links page, ok).

We also recently came across the new Joyful Museums website, whose author believes, “that keeping [museum] workers happy, despite grim economic and other circumstances, should be the top priority of every museum.” As you can see, their mission stands in stark contrast to ours. Still, like us, they’re here to help.

To demonstrate that we are two sides of the same coin, we have each developed a survey for creating a more nuanced understanding of modern museum work. You can choose to take their survey or ours. Either way, we think you will find it beneficial (though ours is shorter. Much, much shorter).

PS We would also like to thank Joyful Museums for including us on their Resources For Individuals page, under Bookmark These Websites. You are too kind.

Weekend Work 6-16-14: New Links, a Timely Kickstarter Campaign, There’s More of Us Than Them, and New Deaccession Disgraces

Or if you don't care, there's always Tempus Fu**it.Tempus Fugit! It was a particularly busy spring here at the Hysterical Society. By busy we mean, of course, we wasted time surfing the internet. Such is the fate of an online museum. You can easily become lost in the research and its inevitable tangents. Still, how we haven’t updated our weekend workings since February is beyond us.

All that surfing hasn’t been in vain. It’s amazing what you can find online if you look. We won’t say discover, because if you can google it it’s already been seen by others. Our recent findings include Jeff Martin’s War of 1812 comic series, Originalos (a history of invention from caveperson times), and American Wiseass, history comedy videos from the History Channel (which is about as close to actual historical programming as they get). You can find all of these and much more on our Links page.

We also ran across this Kickstarter campaign for an animated museum-based series called Giant Sloth. According to the site, “in this existential animated short, Museum curator Gordon Boonewell’s world is falling apart. And his mind may be following.”  We know all you curators can relate to that last sentence.

If you don’t have time to read the campaign page (though you should) check out GS’s campaign video:

In the interest of full disclosure, we have absolutely nothing to do with this campaign or production. We just think it should be funded.

You may have seen the IMLS’s recent count of US museums , which has made news because it appears there are more museums in America than Starbucks and McDonald’s combined. While that sounds nice, we wonder a few things: who takes  in more money? Who has more repeat customers? And who is perceived as necessary? We ask because, while museum professionals have gone all squishy with what appears to be evidence of love and support, we’re not sure that’s what it means.

It should be noted that we are in no way advocating for fewer museums. We believe museum professionals should support every museum, no matter the size, scope, or mission because it means more employment opportunities for us. Of course, the IMLS isn’t interested in these questions. They’re simply trying to justify their existence and funding so they can continue the good work of funding museums and libraries and keeping us all in jobs. Because of that we should fund the IMLS! But Giant Sloth comes first.

Lastly, there’s “Art For Sale: Dereliction of Duty” by Timothy Rub in the Wall Street Journal. Rub, the director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a former president of the AAMD, wrote yet another strongly-worded op-ed piece against the Delaware Museum of Art’s deaccession proposal. We won’t go into it because it’s the same deaccession story all over again, as our Deaccession collection demonstrates. However, between Delaware, Detroit, and the regular go-round of deaccessioning, there have been a lot of fascinating conversations going on at the The Deaccessioning Blog and The Art Law Blog. The Art Law Blog is one of our favorites because they take the museum field to task over our loose use of the public trust and our collections. These blogs demonstrate another long-held belief of the Hysterical Society: that museums are poor interpreters of themselves, their work, and their importance. But that’s ok, because there’s more of us than Starbucks and McDonald’s, which means we must be doing something right. Right?

Weekend Work 2-17-14: Debating the Penultimate Question, President Hamilton, a Beef Display, and an Art Museum Director Discovers Museum Studies

Greetings from the American Hysterical Society! Today we have a follow-up and a round-up from our recent ramblings about the internet.

If “why are we here?” is the ultimate question, “how did we arrive?” is next in line. A few weeks ago we mentioned that Bill Nye the Science Guy will debate Ken Hamm the Creation Museum Guy. They did, and if you missed it, you can see it here:

Did you know that, “The $10 bill… features President Alexander Hamilton — undeniably one of our greatest presidents and most widely recognized for establishing the country’s financial system.” According to Groupon it’s true, and in honor of that statement they’re offering a special President’s Day deal celebrating President Hamilton.

Before you start complaining how corporate America is perverting our history, we’d like to remind you that at least one of them got something of Hamilton’s bio right:

We don’t know if you saw (we wish we hadn’t) but last week Shia LaBeouff became his own art installation.

The piece, entitled #IAmSorry, includes (apart from Shia himself) a whip, Transformers toys, a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses, a pair of pliers, a bottle of Brut cologne, a bottle of Jack Daniels, and a bowl of folded up Twitter messages. According to some, it also includes copious amounts of Shia crying. While this sounds fascinating as is, we feel he missed his opportunity to make this a memorably-titled interactive. With the bag over his head he should have called it “Where’s the Beef?” which visitors could shout at that bag-wearing piece of “art.”

And finally this week we have Michael Rush’s From the Field op-ed “Considering the Museum of the Future.” Rush opens his love letter to museums written from 1994 saying that “No one ever claimed that museums need be ‘agents of change.’” Clearly he’s never heard of  the Center for the Future of Museums, who has indeed called for museums to be agents of change on numerous occasions. He then challenged art museums to “to learn from what innovative institutions of all kinds are already doing and ask ourselves, “are we thinking of the future?’”The whole piece feels like notes from a Museums 101 class. Maybe it is. Rush is the founding executive director of the Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum at the University of Michigan. Perhaps he was overextended and just typed up his lecture notes for the AAMD to publish.

Weekend Work 2-3-14: New Kindred, Working Toward Cool, and the Queen is Broke Too

Last week we were introduced to Attendant’s View, a British blog dedicated to, “the thousands of people who have the job of gallery assistant, museum attendant, front of house staff, heritage volunteer… and for anyone who may have visited art galleries, museums, places of historical interest.” You should look at their stuff. It’s all funny cause it’s true. We have added them to our Links page, which remains the largest collection of history and museum humor links on the internet.

One of the many items that crossed our desktop this weekend was the new Museum People’s Tattoos blog, which, as you might guess, is an online collection of tattoos on museum folks. We assume it’s an attempt to make museum folks appear cool. But as usual, we’re late to the party. Librarians, who were once less cool than museum professionals (so museum people like to think) have been showing their tatts longer, louder, and prouder than we have. Check out here, here, and here. We feel this is further evidence that the museum field is reactive, not proactive.

If you disagree with the previous sentence, please feel free to share where you find museums are cutting edge creators, not adopters.

And finally, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas Queen, Defender of the Faith, Duchess of Edinburgh, Countess of Merioneth, Baroness Greenwich, Duke of Lancaster, Lord of Mann, Duke of Normandy, Sovereign of the Most Honourable Order of the Garter, Sovereign of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Sovereign of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Sovereign of the Most Illustrious Order of Saint Patrick, Sovereign of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George, Sovereign of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Sovereign of the Distinguished Service Order, Sovereign of the Imperial Service Order, Sovereign of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India, Sovereign of the Most Eminent Order of the Indian Empire, Sovereign of the Order of British India, Sovereign of the Indian Order of Merit, Sovereign of the Order of Burma, Sovereign of the Royal Order of Victoria and Albert, Sovereign of the Royal Family Order of King Edward VII, Sovereign of the Order of Merit, Sovereign of the Order of the Companions of Honour, Sovereign of the Royal Victorian Order, Sovereign of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem is going broke and is having difficulty maintaining her historic homes and collections. There’s no joke here. We just wanted to make you feel better about your work. If the Queen can’t maintain and preserve her collections, why should we commoners do any better.

Weekend Work 1-6-14: Blackadder is Ruining History & Bill Nye Will Be Talking Creationism With the Founder of the Creation Museum

While searching the news recently it seems the new year (Happy New Year, by the way) has brought all kinds of crazy for history and museums, all in an effort to protect the children.

Television and movies have never been good about portraying history accurately, but did you know they were out to subvert it? It’s true. Well at least that’s what Michael Gove, a British MP and the Secretary of State for Education, thinks that the comedy television show Blackadder Goes Forth is doing to Britain’s understanding of their WWI history.

What makes this ironic is that Mr Gove is also a weekend Mr Bean impersonator. Wikipedia.

Ironically, Mr Gove is also a weekend Mr Bean impersonator. Wikipedia.

Although it’s true Blackadder did take some license with history (well, rather a lot really), they did try to correct people’s understanding of the war’s origins, as you can see here. Also, they perhaps summed up war more poignantly than any historian ever could

In Mr Gove’s considered opinion, Blackadder left out all the patriotism and nationalistic pride that actually created and cheerfully sustained the war effort. Clearly he is not a fan of revisionist history. Nope. Not at all.

Also in the news, Bill Nye the Science Guy will be part of an evolution v. creation open-mic night (cause this isn’t a debate) with Ken Ham the Creation Museum Guy. Some have referred to Ham’s choice of opponents as a “natural selection.

Something tells us that the conversation is going to be about as subtle as this:

Weekend Work 12-2-13: A Couple of New Books and Some Seasonal Interpretive Planning

It’s December, which means the Christmas season has descended upon museums, leaving little time and energy for anything other than decorating and special events. So this is just a drive-by posting to let you know we added a couple of new titles to our Library collection, including

A Complete History of America (Abridged) to our National Histories collection.

Forgotten Fashions: An Illustrated Faux History of Outrageous Trends and Their Untimely Demise to our Art, Artifacts, & Architecture collection.

This holiday season the AHS staff will be working to develop an effective interpretive method to explain to some of our visitors that Xmas does not take the Christ out of Christmas (also here and here) because the abbreviation is rooted in Christian history, not modern politics. In order to prepare these visitors for the resulting shock, we plan to preface our program with the following:

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