11 Questions to a museum blogger

best-blog

In case you’re wondering what Eleven Questions is all about, it all began when the Naturkundemuseum, in Berlin, started a blog chain with Jenni Fuchs from Museum 140.  Jenni had eleven questions to answer, then pass it forward and so on…forever.

I’ve been nominated by Russell Dornan to answer 11 questions. Here they are:

What made you want to start a blog?

I wanted to show people what went on behind the scenes while working with collections. The stuff in museums is so amazing that I feel it just has to be shared, and the internet is a great way of doing that.

What advice would you give someone just starting out with their blog?

Write about what you’re interested in- you’ll find it flows much easier and your readers will be enthused by your enthusiasm.  Also, show people what you’re working with via photos- blogs shouldn’t just be walls of text!

If you could guest write on anyone’s blog, whose would it be?

I don’t know!!! There are so many good ones. I really like The Brain Scoop, but I think of Emily’s videos as blogposts as well, just in video form.  That would be fun to do.

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If you could ask anyone to write a guest post for your blog (anyone at all ever), who would you chose and what would you ask them to write about?

It may sound strange, but ever since I read an interview where one of my favorite bands said they loved natural history museums, I’ve wanted Mastodon to say more about it. Apparently between gigs they try to visit  natural history museums in the cities they play in while on tour. I really like that a metal band (with a very cool name, no less) thinks that natural history museums are cool.

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Do you work in a museum? If not, where do you work? Tell us about your job.

I work at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History as one of two full time curatorial assistants responsible for the Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths) collections. My job is to database and photograph the entire collection of world moths. At the moment I’m currently working on the family Noctuidae, which is the largest Lepidoptera family. To give you an idea of how large, I’m just a third of the way through them and have documented over 25,000 specimens.

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Other aspects of my job include repair and conservation of damaged specimens, finding and checking Type specimen material and making notes of any important historical specimens. We’ve found numerous moths collected by Darwin, Wallace and Bates.

Do you tweet? Why or why not?

I do as both @Nyctibiidae and @hopeulikemoths

If you could be the director of any museum, which one would it be and why?

Ah, see I don’t ever want to be the director of a museum. It’s a completely different job from being a curator, and one I think I would struggle to enjoy. I have major respect for those who do manage to manage a museum.

Tell us about one of the best blog posts you’ve ever read.

I really like Paolo Viscardi’s post on what a curator is. I get asked this question a lot and I can only say what I do, not what other curators do, so it’s nice to point people towards this.

This post by Andy Deans is also a favorite, because it clearly explains vouchering, which we curators love to see when specimens come in.
What’s your favourite museum shop?

I really like The Wellcome Collection’s shop for two reasons- 1.) they normally have strange and wonderful things in there that appeal to me and 2.) Books! Books are the thing I’m most likely to buy when exiting a museum shop.

If you could own a single object or specimen from a museum’s collections, which one would it be and why?

John Obadiah Westwood’s original painting of a lantern bug from The Cabinet of Oriental Entomology. Westwood was the first Hope Professor of Zoology at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and he established the Entomology department. Plus lantern bugs are some of my favorite insects!

Show us the best photo you’ve taken in a museum.

It’s a tie! Between:

This one, which is around the time I started my traineeship at the Manchester Museum. The Living Worlds gallery was about to open, and there was a rush to get taxidermy into the right display cases. This was the view when you looked through the door in the conservation department.

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And this one, because I love the way the light hit the specimens just right and brought out the iridescence and variation in colour on the Morpho butterflies.

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Rather than nominating specific people (I’m kind of running out of people to tag, as most museum people I know have alredy done this) I’ll leave the floor open to anyone who wants to take this to their own blog and answer the same questions:

What made you want to start a blog?
What advice would you give someone just starting out with their blog?
If you could guest write on anyone’s blog, whose would it be?
If you could ask anyone to write a guest post for your blog (anyone at all ever), who would you chose and what would you ask them to write about?
Do you work in a museum? If not, where do you work? Tell us about your job.
Do you tweet? Why or why not?
If you could be the director of any museum, which one would it be and why?
Tell us about one of the best blog posts you’ve ever read.
What’s your favourite museum shop?
If you could own a single object or specimen from a museum’s collections, which one would it be and why?
Show us the best photo you’ve taken in a museum.
Here’s what you have to do:

Answer the eleven questions – you can adapt them a little to fit your blog, if you like.
Include the Best Blog image in your post, and link back to the person who nominated you (that would be me, by the way, or more specifically, this blog post).
Devise eleven new questions – or feel free to keep any of these ones here if you like them – and pass them on to how ever many bloggers you would like to.

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