I’m a museum collections manager. This means I handle project management and long-term preservation for the collections I oversee. While our visitors enjoy the galleries, much of my job takes place behind my computer, in our department’s storerooms, and in the hallways throughout our museum. I probably spend about 1/8 of my time in the galleries, and much of that time is checking that all is in place prior to the arrival of visitors each morning. I check to see that the labels are straight, that the climate is within acceptable range, and so forth.
I wear a badge, so when I am travelling through the galleries during open hours, visitors ask me questions – and I really try not to appear to be stupid. The truth is, I just don’t have the experience answering directional questions that my colleagues in Security do. Here are a sampling of most common questions asked by museum visitors:
“Where is the restroom?” (by far the most popular) “Where is the exit?” “Are you a curator?” (nope – good segue into discussing collection care!) “What are you doing?” (a great question when I’m dusting artwork, allows me to talk about collection care!) “Can I take your picture?” (this can be cool or not cool, depending on what you are doing) “Where is ____ [obscure show in a department on the other side of the museum which I forgot to see]?
Museum colleague friends – what are your favorites?