Friday, August 10, 2018

Boykin’s Laws of Museology

From Boykin’s Laws of Museology.

I am sure all dedicated museum and history site visitors have experienced some, if not all of these circumstances. A substantial extract from his post.
1. There will be a mix-up based on similar names – such as Lorch and Lorsch. You will go to the wrong one first, assuming you can find the second one at all.

2. The thing you really want to see will be either a) on the road on loan or b) removed for conservation. OR

3. Not on display that day for other reasons (like a water leak in the room next door…)

4. If the stars and planets do align, the items will have been permanently removed from display and are now only available to select, vetted researchers who have valid reasons to see the originals. And there are no copies on display. [Yes, Albertina, I am looking at you.]

5. Natural history museums will have at least four school groups present, ranging in size from “small and easy to trip over” to “view-blockingly tall.”

6. You arrive the day after, or leave the day before, “National Free Museum Day!”

7. All the objects from a certain time period, let’s say Paleolithic and early Neolithic, have just been moved to a new state of the art, separate museum. Two miles from the last trolley or bus stop. And outside the cab ring.

8. The museum will be in between exhibits. Large portions will be closed so that the new stuff can be assembled without patrons tripping over curators and vice versa.
I would add:
9. The museum/site is closed owing to a labor dispute.
The one time I had the money, the time, the flexibility, and was close to Pompeii, I arrived to find everything locked up owing to a strike. I have had the same thing happen elsewhere but that was among the most disappointing.

On a positive note, there are instances of the very opposite of the above laws. I have had the great pleasure to visit many sites (Chaco Canyon or Kolomoki Indian Mounds) or museums (Naturhistoriska Riksmuseet in Stockholm) when they were virtually empty. Nothing quite as inspiring as wandering pathways and hallways of great history and wonder with it all to yourself.

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