11 questions to a museum blogger for #museumweek




Here’s my response to a chain blog set off on #museumblogs day last week, into which coils I have been inveigled by Paolo Viscardi.

Here are my answers to Paolo Viscardi’s 11 questions to me  in this #MuseumWeek.

1. Who are you and what do you blog about?

I’m Claire, HLF trainee curator in Natural Sciences at Manchester Museum.  I was frogmarched into blogging (and Twitter) by my supervisor, David Gelsthorpe, at the start of the traineeship but I’ve really enjoyed writing about what I’ve been up to. Although intended as a diary, I can’t blog as often as I should, or would like to, so I use it more to round off something I’ve been doing.  The traineeship has covered an overwhelming amount of stuff in the last year and I’ve not written about lots of it (stacks of drafts piling up!) but hope its of interest, particularly to anyone thinking of doing a traineeship.


2. Why do you blog about museums?

See Question 1!  But my role is changing, so that’s an interesting question I’m asking myself again right now.  To be part of the museum social media network is a major part of it.  Its a great way of getting an insight into other organisations, roles, different ways of doing things and opportunities as well as a fantastic supportive community.  A wider network that I didn’t foresee evolving connects with artists and those involved in environmental monitoring, recording and research, particularly through Twitter at the moment, which I want to explore more through people’s blogs – if only I could read faster!

3. And which post on your blog was the hardest to write?

I don’t know about hard, but one I was not at all happy with was the blog about my first week at the NHM – too much unstructured stuff, too many photos, not enough time and really, really tired!

4. Which is your favourite museum?

I’m not sure I’ve been there yet.  I enjoy being given a different take on familiar or not so familiar things.  I really enjoyed Chateau D’Annecy with Joan Fontcuberta’s mermaid excavation exhibit cunningly mixed in with a display about archaeological finds from the local lake community, an aquarium of lake life, and local natural history (including some very dodgily wired skeletons!).  Exhibitions of religious art and contemporary sculpture, as well as vernacular furniture provided a truly surprising and stimulating mix.


5. Do you think you’ll still be interested in museums in 20 years time?

Definitely!  I changed career to work with natural science collections, and do something that links to my ‘extra-curricular’ activities (developing my skills recording wildflowers and other wildlife to provide that all-important data for conservation).  In the very distant future I can see that taking me forward into a useful and active old age both inside and outside museums, now that we never have to retire!

And of course, there’s such a huge variety of collections that a museum visit is always a learning experience and a great antidote to lassitude and ennui.

6. What is your earliest museum memory?

A school trip to Romania in my teens, at the very dawn of the Romanian tourist industry.  Muzeul Satului (Village Museum) in Bucharest was and still is, since 1936,  an open-air museum of 272 farms and houses from all over Romania set in a large park, which I remember was very pleasant to amble about boggling at the sheer effort it must have taken to move all the buildings.


On the same trip we visited Castle Bran, linked with Vlad III (the Impaler), of which I have an impression of many turrets and unprotected stairs!  

7. What was the last museum you visited and what did you see?

Apart from working at Manchester Museum every day, the last museum building I visited was the collection stores for Bolton Museums Service.  This was a NWFed event  looking at building design for pest management and sustainable energy provision.  We saw a huge range of objects – radiograms and other furniture, stained glass windows, bicycles, a huge mill loom, geology, textiles and art works. Many of my sad photos are of environmental control systems, power perfectors, floor seals, racking and ventilation systems but here’s a frog collection in the spirit store:

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8. Share a museum selfie?

Bird hair day!  Beset by shiny new taxidermy for the impending ‘From the War of Nature’ exhibition.


9. If you could build a museum, what kind would it be?

Another corker of a question.  This is a bit weird, but when I can’t find anything, remember something or am fed up with the entropy of life, I consider running it (my life) like a museum, with a rigorously applied collecting policy where all the objects, people and documents that come into it are accessioned, documented, treated with huge respect, stored immaculately and can only be disposed of after great consideration.  I feel a novel in the style of J G Ballard coming on!

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

Strangely, one titled  ‘ … Upon whose bosom snow has lain; Who intimately lives with rain …’, can’t think why?

11. What’s the oddest search term that has led people to your blog?

They all seem fairly ordinary, except perhaps ‘stacked herbariums’ sounds a little dubious?  Perhaps herbarium is an unfamiliar word to some people.  As a fledgling blogger I’ve got a long way to go with content let alone optimisation of tags and categories!


Not sure if this is the best blog image, but these glass tubes turn cinchona bark specimens into iconic objects.

My turn to choose someone now ….

Here are my questions for David and Lauren :

1. Who are you and what do you blog about?

2. Why do you blog about museums?

3. And which post on your blog did you have the most fun writing?

4. What’s that blog you really would like to get round to writing?

5. Which is your favourite museum?

6. What is your earliest museum memory and what emotion did it inspire?

7. What was the last museum you visited and what did you see?

8. Share a museum selfie?

9. Do you think there will always be a need for museums?

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

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.