If you’re a regular reader of blogs, you may have come across one of those questionnaires that like to do the rounds, where bloggers tag each other to answer them. In Germany they’re referred to as ‘Blogstöckchen’ (so called ‘blog sticks’ you throw to each other, much like you’d throw a stick to a dog). Sometimes the questions stay the same for everyone, sometimes the person passing them on changes them for the next blogger. I’ve had a few thrown my way, though up until now none of them really grabbed me – for example, I didn’t really think my readers would be that interested in what hardware or software I use for blogging, or what my social media habits are, you’d get much more out of just following me on social media instead. But last week, my favourite museum in Berlin – the Naturkundemuseum – threw me a BEST BLOG Blogstöckchen, with 11 questions specifically tailored to me as a museum blogger, which I just couldn’t refuse. And since today is Museum Blog/gers Day, I thought it would be the perfect excuse to answer them.
1. Who are you and what do you like about blogging?
Well, as you know my name is Jenni and I’ve been working in museums for over ten years now. To say I also love visiting museums in my own time would be an understatement – last year alone I visited over 100 museums in 5 different countries, which was a personal record. Friends of mine have been known to say that I live, work and breathe museums, and who am I to disagree with them ;) What I love most about blogging, is connecting with other people and sharing my passion with them. My mission in life, is to dispel the myth that museums are stuffy and boring, or just for an elite few. Museums are fun and for everyone!
2. If you had a whole week just to blog: which subject would you like to thoroughly research and write about?
Museum Diary is a very personal blog. I mainly write about museums and related things I have experienced myself, rather than subjects I have researched. But there’s never enough time to turn everything in to blog posts, so my readers just get a selection of all the wonderful museums I have visited. There are still dozens I have not yet written about, from Berlin, Hamburg, Edinburgh, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Vienna, Zagreb and others. If I had a whole week to devote just to blogging, I’d use the time to play catch up on those fascinating museums and topics languishing in my notebooks – such as mammoths, money, submarines, botanics, furniture, emigration, underground tunnels and dolls houses! And given the time, I may also mix a few more museum cocktails…
3. Are you from Berlin? If not, how did you end up here?
I’m originally from Germany, from a wee village near the western border, but spent over half my life in Scotland which is still where I call home. Two and a half years ago, my husband’s new job brought us to Berlin. It’s a great city for a museum lover – there are so many museums to chose from, it feels a bit like being a kid in a candy store!
4. What is your favourite spot in Berlin?
I don’t really have one specific favourite spot, but it’s safe to say that it would involve a museum. My favourite museum in Berlin in terms of the collections is the Naturkundemuseum Berlin (and I’m not just saying that because you’re asking the questions). My favourite museum to just hang out in is the Jüdisches Museum Berlin. In the summer I like to go there after work and sit in one of the deck chairs in the garden with a good book, and when the weather isn’t so great the glass courtyard is a nice place to retreat to – I’ve even had a picnic inside there with a friend when a thunderstorm rained on our plans! And my favourite museum to take #MuseumBaby to is the Deutsches Technikmuseum. You find out more about my favourite Berlin museums in this recent blog post: My Top 10 Museums on ‘My Destination Berlin’
5. What is your insider tip, for a little escape from Berlin’s city centre?
Berlin has some great open air museum options, outwith the city centre, to explore. We loved the Museumsdorf Düppel, a reconstructed Medieval village with animals and live crafts demonstrations. It’s a bit tricky to get to by public transport though, so best if you have a car. The Domäne Dahlem is also great, it’s a working farm with a museum included and they have special events such as a vintage funfair or a Christmas market, which make it perfect destination for a day out. And the U-Bahn stops directly opposite! But I think our favourite city escape so far has been to Peacock Island (which you can also get to by public transport, though it involves an U-Bahn, a bus and a ferry). The name says it all really – definitely a must see!
6. What was your most formative nature experience?
I generally like to spend a lot of time outdoors – living in Scotland kind of does that to you – but one of my most memorable experiences was our honeymoon in Iceland. It was actually a whole string of nature experiences: trekking through (inactive!) lava tunnels, staring in to bubbling mud pits, getting up close and personal with a volcano, dodging erupting geysers, standing on the edge of thundering waterfalls, and snorkelling in an intercontinental rift. I’ve never experience nature that raw.
7. Which museum is most like yourself?
Anyone who knows me well enough, knows that I have a fairly short attention span. I like things to be varied and diverse, and am interested in anything from art, archaeology and world cultures, to science and natural history. They’ll also tell you that I’m passionate about issues close to my heart, such as making museums inclusive to everyone, especially to children and families. Maybe that’s partly why I feel so at home at the National Museum of Scotland. I fell in love with it thirty years ago, and still resonates with me to this day. It has a bit of everything, it’s open, friendly and welcoming, and it puts visitors – including families – at its heart. If you haven’t already seen it, this four minute video captures how I feel about the museum:
8. When was the last time you visited a natural history museum?
Believe it or not, it was actually a visit to the Naturkundemuseum Berlin! And it was on Valentine’s Day. We were going out for a meal in the city centre that evening, and decided to pop in to the museum for a bit first. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the ‘day of love’, than hanging out with some dinosaurs and watching a multi-media show about the solar system!
9. There are many big and famous museums, but which is your personal favourite ‘hidden gem’?
I’m so glad you asked. Hidden gems that are under the radar are something I’ve been championing for a few years now. It led me to start the project ‘Adopt-a-Museum’, which aims to put some of the unsung heroes of the museum world in to the spotlight. Anyone can put forward a museum, the only criteria is that it’s not already big and famous, so if you would like to take part, please do get in touch! My personal favourite hidden gem, is a museum in the German town of Lennep, which set the project in motion. The Deutsches Röntgen Museum is the home of x-ray history and it’s fantastic – just the right balance of information and interactivity. I almost cried when the lady at the ticket desk told us they have ‘maybe 100 visitors on a good day’. If you’re ever in that part of Germany, go and see it! That’s an order!!
10. What are your three favourite blog posts about Berlin?
My readers are going to start thinking you bribed me to write these answers, but one of my favourite posts is about our first ever visit to the Naturkundemuseum Berlin – which was also the first ever post I wrote about Berlin after moving here, and the first ever museum we visited here, only three days after we arrived! So it’s a favourite for very personal and slightly nostalgic reasons. Another favourite is the post about our historic steam train ride on the Heidekrautbahn, because it was really fun making the wee video for that. And my final one is going to be the post about visiting the Jüdisches Museum Berlin with #MuseumBaby – it’s mostly a photo post, but what I really like about it is that it shows a successful visit with a toddler to a museum that may not be an obvious choice.
11. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to ask a museum curator?
Well, I’ve worked alongside a lot of curators and I’m not shy of asking questions, so I can’t think of anything right now that I’ve always wanted to ask and never had the chance to. But I will leave you with the three questions I asked several museums last year during ‘Ask-a-Curator’:
- What is the most unusual object in your collection?
- If there was a fire and you could save just one object, what would it be?
- What exhibition have you always wanted to curate but never had the chance to?
Answers on a postcard :)
So, now that I’ve answered the questions, I need to pick some other blogs to pass the BEST BLOG Blogstöckchen on to. Theoretically I could pick any blogs, but I’m going to keep it within the museum bloggers circle am passing it on to: Jack’s Adventures in Museum Land, which is a bit of a kindred spirit to Museum Diary; Museum Minute, who is co-hosting Museum Blog/gers Day with me; and Alli Burness, whose museum world travels and museum selfie project I have been following for a while. Also, my friend Mel and her blog Dejlige Days. Mel doesn’t blog exclusively about museums, but she has guest posted on Museum Diary a couple of times and written about some great museums as part of her blog on life in Copenhagen.
Here are my questions for you (I actually loved the questions passed on to me, so have kept some of them as is):
- Who are you and what do you like about blogging?
- What is the most popular post on your blog?
- And which post on your blog is your personal favourite?
- If you had a whole week just to blog: which subject would you like to thoroughly research and write about?
- If you could ask anyone at all to write a guest post for your blog (you can be as utopian as you like), who would you chose and what would you ask them to write about?
- What has been your most memorable museum experience?
- What was the last museum you visited and how was it?
- Share your favourite photo with us that you took at a museum.
- If time and money were not an issue, which museum in the world would you most like to visit?
- There are many big and famous museums, but which is your personal favourite ‘hidden gem’?
- Do you have any insider tips on any of the museums you have visited or blogged about?
And here’s what you have to do:
- Answer the eleven questions – you can adapt them a little to fit your blog, if you like.
- Include the BEST BLOG image in your post, and link back to the person who nominated you (that would be me, by the way, or more specifically, 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.
I look forward to reading your answers!