Most museum professionals make a point to scan the industry landscape for daily feeds on what their colleagues and counterparts are up to. We call this “sourcing inspiration” in order to inform our own projects and generate ideas for new directions in actualizing our mission. This action often amounts to plain and simple stealing, thinly veiled as resource ideation or “leveraging the market.” I recently saw the very impressive Minneapolis Institute of Art’s “Meet the MIA” flickr set and was immediately struck by the brilliance of my original idea to create our own “Meet the Staff” flickr set for the Penn Museum. While we didn’t have the resources to produce the same spot-lighted, ethereal timbre evoked by the MIA’s stunning photography, we did manage to crank out a few good snapshots. Our more gritty photography is an aesthetic nod to all the millions of cubic meters of dirt our Museum is responsible for digging up over its 120-year history of excavation. (Yeah, that might work.)
Hopefully there will be a few more photos forthcoming, if I can practice my arm-twisting techniques a bit more.
I asked staffers to answer a few pointed questions posted in the photo descriptions.
What would you do if you weren’t a database administrator?
When I was a kid I really wanted to run a golf course.
What is your favorite word and why?
Hmmm. That’s a tough one. I’d say maybe chotto in Japanese. It has so many meanings. My favorite is when it is used to avoid direct criticism. For instance: How do you like my new dress?
What would you do if you weren’t a web developer?
I always wanted to work for the Bailey Building and Loan in Bedford Falls.
What is your favorite object in the Museum?
I have always been partial to the Ritual Bone Apron (accession number A1403) in the Buddhist gallery. It is made from carved human bone and is worn by a Tibetan lama or sorcerer in exorcism ceremonies. The concept of incorporating bits of the dead into ritual objects carries such immense philosophical implications that it makes these types of objects riveting.