Show off

“It’s an open mic night featuring curators, conservators, librarians, collectors, trustees, security people, retail folk, educators, funders, explainers, visitors, academics, archivists and everyone else associated with museums, libraries, archives and collections.” –

I’ve finished my dissertation today! All that’s left is finding a London printing and binding place that doesn’t cost more than the actual tuition fee. But I can see the finish line. 2 years of studying in the making, the end is nigh. So, as half treat half inspiration, I put my laptop away in my bag for a couple of hours, and headed to Museums ShowOff. Museums ShowOff is an open mic for museum professionals to talk about their museum, their role and their love for all things Museum.

This is my third Museums ShowOff night. I’d been once in Manchester and saw Dave Haslam (amazing) and a bunch of museum professionals based in Manchester. I also went this January in London, and saw people like Sascha Coward, Claire Madge, and the ever brilliant The Queer Cabinet Brigade perfect what Museums ShowOff is all about. They brought a humour, lightness and accessibility to their slots. In January, life and dissertation got in the way of writing a review, but this time I’m making the time.
First up, Eleanor Margolies spent her 9 minutes explaining how it takes so much longer than 9 minutes to describe what we see when we look at an object, and how they makes interpretation for blind visitors so tricky. Followed by Prachi Joshi talked about his MA project with the British Museum, a roleplaying event to shift our Prachi Joshi talked about her MA project with the British Museum, a roleplaying event to shift our perspectives of what a museum is. Next up was Catherine Freeman talking about… teddy bears. I’ll admit BM (before museums) I used to work at Build A Bear Workshop as my weekend job *shudders*, so I was ready to hate this slot, but there’s much more to bears than I first thought, and I ended up actually enjoying it.

Harriet Braine and Korantema Anyimadu spent their slots doing what Museums ShowOff is all about. Sharing their love of museums in the most creative, fun, and humorous way. Harriet Braine, from the National Maritime Museum,wrote, and sung a song specially for Museums Showoff and Korantema performed an incredible spoken word piece about shameful museum thoughts.

Rosie Lampard, who talked about the bizarre questions visitors ask. Hearing from a front of ouse perspective was brilliantly unexpected, and she completely nailed it. Slightly darker, well much darker was Sheldon Goodman, discussing cemeteries. From, Sheldon’s slot made cemeteries seem.. cool? Ever so slightly more of what you’d expect from a Museum event, Miranda Stearn spoke about the social mobility in Cambridge, or the lack thereof, and what University of Cambridge Museums are doing to change this.

I’d recommend Museums ShowOff to anyone. Whether you’re a director of a national museum, or a visitor, there will be something at Museums ShowOff for you. It’s basically a nerdy stand up show. The humour, creativity and excitement of Museums ShowOff makes you forget your learning stuff, and somehow manages to make hearing about museums an actual break from writing 15,000 words about museums…



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