11 Questions to a Museum Blogger on Museum Blog Day

best blogToday, 19th March 2014 is #MuseumBlogs day on Twitter (go and join in the conversation!). It was organised by the lovely people behind two of my favourite Museum Blogs: Museum Diary (which turns 3 today!) and MuseumMinute. To mark #MuseumBlog day, Museum Diary answered 11 Questions sent to her by the NaturkundeMuseum.

These 11 questions come from a BEST BLOG ‘Blogstöckchen’ which Museum Diary has passed on to me.



You can read Museum Diary’s response on her blog. 

1. Who are you and what do you like about blogging?

I’m Jack, and I do digital stuff in, with, and about museums for my day jobs (I work at the British Museum and Culture24). When I’m not working in or with museums, I like to blog about them. I like discovering new places to go, all those hidden gems, those Secret Museums that deserve a bigger following. I love discovering the stories behind objects and getting behind the scenes when I can.

2. What is the most popular post on your blog?

For ages, the most popular post on my blog was how to make Bread Pudding using Jane Austen’s family recipe. I think the popularity of things like the Great British Bake-Off helped keep that in the number 1 spot for so long. However, recently, it has been over-taken by my review of the Shunga exhibition that was at the British Museum last year. Luckily, I haven’t been able to see the search terms that found that one…

3. And which post on your blog is your personal favourite?

Hmm this is a tricky one, they all have their charm and they’re all excellent (I admit I’m a bit biased here). The blog I had the most fun writing was my Frequently Asked Questions About the British Museum post. I had lots of fun discussing this with my BM colleagues and it started a lot of conversations on twitter with other museums.

4. If you had a whole week just to blog: which subject would you like to thoroughly research and write about?

A whole week!? Wow. I think I’d like to explore a few different themes with all that time… as long as I could fit in a Museum Adventure or two. I think I’d start by researching objects that have inspired authors to write, such as the original One Ring that inspired Tolkien to pen The Lord of The Rings (it’s at a National Trust house near Basingstoke). Or I would probably research museums that aren’t here anymore, like Walter Potter’s taxidermy museum. Museums have an air of permanence, so it’s interesting to explore the ones that aren’t… you know, permanent.

5. If you could ask anyone at all to write a guest post for your blog (you can be as utopian as you like), who would you chose and what would you ask them to write about.

This is a tough one. My initial reaction to this was to say “I’d invite Classicist and Cambridge Don, Mary Beard to write a guest post on an early inspirational museum visit that stayed with her,” but then I remembered that she’s already written about that – it’s a lovely story.  If she wanted to tell it again on my blog I wouldn’t say no.

But, seeing as she’s already written it, I think I would ask Hilary Mantel (author of Wolf Hall) to write about the research she did for her Tudor-set books, did she go to Hampton Court? How did she use that famous painting of Cromwell to flesh out her word-portrait? I would imagine she’d be fascinating.

6. What has been your most memorable museum experience?

There have been so many; I’m not sure where to begin. That time I saw Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow in Tate Britain was rather memorable (he was striding, purposefully). The first time I worked at a Sleepover at the British Museum was also memorable, it’s quite something to wake up seeing a colossal statue of Ramesses II looking down on you!

7. What was the last museum you visited and how was it?

Although my last Museum Adventure was to the London Transport Museum’s Depot, the last actual museum I visited was the British Museum for the Vikings: Life and Legend exhibition. I wanted to like that exhibition. I really did.

8. Share your favourite photo with us that you took at a museum.

Statues from the Museum of Classical Archaeology
Statues from the Museum of Classical Archaeology

This picture makes me very happy.

9. If time and money were not an issue, which museum in the world would you most like to visit?

Am I limited to only one? I have a whole list of museums to see and they are scattered all over the world! If I only had to pick the one… I think I’d go with the Museum of Souls in Purgatory in Rome. Readers of my blog know I have a thing for very niche museums (like this Marzipan one) and this sounds like one of the narrower niches out there. There’s also the ‘What the?’ factor here. It just sounds so intriguing!

10. There are many big and famous museums, but which is your personal favourite ‘hidden gem’?

My personal favourite ‘hidden gem’ is the Museum of Classical Archaeology in Cambridge. It’s full of casts of Greek and Roman statues, nothing is ‘real,’ but the museum still manages to be fascinating. We think of these statues as being pristine and pure white but this museum shows us how they really could have looked.

Everywhere you turn there’s a chance to take some incredible photos with so many famous works of classical art.  I *love* taking pictures on my adventures, some of them are even OK!

One of the main things that makes this one my personal favourite is how willing the staff are to talk to their visitors. It is the only place where I’ve seen signs pointing you towards the Curator and inviting you to ask questions (even the silly ones!).

11. Do you have any insider tips on any of the museums you have visited or blogged about?

There is one insider tip that I share with every family that comes to the British Museum to learn about the Ancient Egyptians: we have two Rosetta Stones. The one in the Egyptian galleries is always mobbed by crowds, but the other one in the Enlightenment Gallery is usually left alone. The best bit? YOU CAN ACTUALLY TOUCH THE REPLICA.

Next please!

OK, so I’ve answered my set of questions, it is time to pass Best Blog Blogstöckchen to some of my favourite blogs. In keeping with today’s #MuseumBlog theme, I’m going to pick some of my favourite Museum bloggers to answer the next batch of questions.

Everyone in the museum world has heard of Mar Dixon, I’m sure. She’s fantastic at starting conversations and is actually all kinds of wonderful.

Tincture of Museums is a really interesting blog. The writer is currently doing a course on caring for collection items, which has been fascinating to read but you might know her for her posts on Autism in Museums.

Have you stumbled across the blog of Paolo Viscardi, the Horniman Museum’s resident Extreme Curator? It’s essential reading if you like bones and natural history!

So; Mar, Tinc and Paolo, here are my questions for you:

  1. Who are you and what do you like about blogging?
  2. What is the most popular post on your blog?
  3. And which post on your blog did you have the most fun writing?
  4. If you could go behind the scenes of any museum, which one would it be and why?
  5. If you could interview anyone, anyone at all, for your blog, who wold you talk to and what would be the first question you ask them?
  6. What is your earliest museum memory?
  7. What was the last museum you visited what did you see?
  8. Share a museum selfie?
  9. If time and money were not an issue, which museum in the world would you most like to visit?
  10. Which museum do you think more people should know about?
  11. What’s the oddest search term that has led people to your blog?

And here’s what you have to do:

  • Answer the eleven questions – you can adapt them a little to fit your blog.
  • Include the BEST BLOG image in your post, and link back to the person who nominated you (that would be me, or 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.

Can’t wait to read your answers 🙂

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