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#AskACurator: Who Better than Our Collections Director?

#AskACurator Day was Sept. 15, and it was our fourth year participating! We received a lot of great questions, and in case you missed it, we’re compiling all of our answers here! Our exhibit developers, archivist, paleontologists, curators, and our Director of Collections all jumped in to get you answers about all things curatorial! 

First up, our Director of Collections, Chris Carron, who is the fearless leader of the curatorial staff—(as well as a furniture aficionado!)

"What does an average day look like?"

Each day is different. An average day can be typing at my computer, debating exhibit content with experts, installing objects on a deadline, or traveling across the country for a new acquisition. 

“How tricky is balance between handling items & conservation?”

We divide the collection into objects we want to preserve, and those that can be touched. Sometimes we have two of the same thing, one in each category.

“Have you worked in other parts of the museum?” 

As an aspiring professional I worked in a lot of areas. One summer I wore coveralls and a hat and operated a diesel locomotive to give caboose rides to visitors.

“What’s the most absurd object someone has tried to donate to your museum?”

I once declined to acquire “George Washington’s sofa”, after I learned that the attribution was made because it had busts of his head and pictures of Mt. Vernon on the upholstery.

“What’s the ugliest artifact in your museum’s collection?” 

This pair of jeans is high on my list, although once somebody thought they were pretty groovy!

“Thinking about working with Pokémon?”

Our pokemon are brand new AND old school.

“Are curators competitive about collections ‘Our T-Rex is the biggest and baddest!’ or is it collegial "Great find!"

We love having the biggest and best, and our audiences love it too. But we also work closely with colleagues and we love their cool stuff! 

“Any "living in the museum" exhibits possible?”

There are fish, turtles and frogs living in our ScienceWorks exhibit. They seem to love it and they volunteer every day!

How would you define "authenticity" in a museum setting?

Authentic objects are real or genuine. The museum values the trust of its visitors, who believe that we are truthful when we say the things we display are authentic. When we use replicas or casts we always tell the visitor in order to maintain that trust.

“What Harry Potter house would you be in?”

Ravenclaws are wise, knowledgeable, creative, and quirky. Sounds like a curator to me!

“Who do you look to for inspiration outside of your field?”

Futurists who look at trends in society to predict what people will need to know in the future. This helps me prioritize what we should be collecting!

“What’s your favorite toy in collections?”

Lots of toys are fun. I like toys that tell us about the dreams (and fears) of the people who played with them, like our “Safe, Harmless Giant Atomic Bomb” Toy, which was featured in Atlas Obscura

“What would your dream dinosaur find be?”

A fully articulated Jurassic “long neck” that is really easy to dig.

“What kind of schooling does it take to become a curator?”

Our curators have degrees in many fields, including Museum Studies, Historical Administration, Art, History, Anthropology, and Geology.

“What's the one thing about being a curator at The Children's Museum that makes your fellow curators super jealous?”

At The Children's Museum, I don’t just curate artifacts from a place I’ve never seen. When our team creates an exhibit about a place or culture, we travel to experience it first-hand. It makes my job more fun, and the experience ring “true”.

“What is your favorite item The Children's Museum owns?”

My favorite recent acquisition is a screen-used tribble from the Star Trek TV series. I watched lots of reruns as a kid, and “The Trouble with Tribbles” was a favorite episode. Most space aliens are scary, but this one is cute and fuzzy!

Don't miss the summary blogs with #AskACurator answers from our exhibit developers, archivist, paleontologists, and curators!

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Categories: Collections, Technology
About the Author
Lori Byrd-McDevitt
Lori Byrd-McDevitt
Lori is the Manager of Digital Content and Social Media. That means that she's the face behind all of the museum's social media channels! Lori loves to learn about all of the fun and surprising things that go into making The Children's Museum so extraordinary—then she helps museum staff and community members share it all right here on the blog.
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