A couple of weeks ago, I was sick with a crazy cold that, combined with a lingering sinus infection, put me down for several days. I held off on blog posts, as I did not want to be held responsible for anything I wrote while heavily medicated.
As the fog began to lift, I started investigating books for my next nonprofit nerd reads installment and stumbled across Judith Henry’s Overheard at the Museum. I immediately identified with this as I find myself unintentionally privy to all sorts of conversations near my office and in the museum galleries. Obviously, this is not uncommon since Ms. Henry wrote an entire book about it. A quick search of the interwebs revealed other tidbits:
Staffer giving talk asks what everyone thinks of in the year 1960. Little boy yells, ‘Dinosaurs!’ — via @amhistorymuseum
Pre-K kid, weeping: ‘I don’t WANT to deliver mail!’ Chaperone: ‘Do you want to go back in the truck?’ Kid: ‘YES!!’ — via @PostalMuseum
‘Never trust grandma. Never trust grandma!’ – a middle-aged woman walking quickly alongside two young girls — via the faux bohemian
Ten-year old girl looking at Dumbo: ‘That’s from the 1950s? That’s really, really, reaaaallly old.’ — via @amhistorymuseum
And from my own experience, overheard at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, two women exiting the restroom and one asking the other, “So where did he get the warts from?”
Washington, D.C.’s National Museum of Natural History compiled their favorite quotes here, Overheard in New York has an entire section devoted to what’s being overheard in the city’s museums, and Hyperallergic’s post on what was uttered during an afternoon in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Modern Art galleries was pretty enlightening.
I’m a huge fan of discussion in museums. Who cares if what visitors are seeing makes them do the puppy dog head-tilt? If people are talking, that means whatever they are observing is making an impact. The things that I overhear often make me take a closer look at the art or notice things about the physical space that could be changed to enhance the visitor experience, and that’s never a bad thing. So keep talking! You never know who might be listening.