I’m a Museum Person

February 18, 2011


Earlier this week, I was thrilled to be featured on the Museumist website in their running series “I’m a Museum Person”. Here is a re-blog of the interview:

“My name is Jenni Fuchs, and I’m a Museum Person.”

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m an expat German living in Edinburgh and work for National Museums Scotland as their Audience Research Officer. I also sit on the Board of ICOM’s Committee for Education and Cultural Action, and write a museum blog. In my free time I’m an enthusiastic amateur photographer.

Why do museums matter to you?

Museums are the keepers of our cultural heritage; they help us understand our past, preserve our present, and look ahead to our future. They’re also great places for informal and independent learners, many of whom are failed by our education systems, to develop themselves.

What is your favorite museum memory?

One day when I was about 10 years old, my mum wanted to keep me home from school because I had a temperature and was looking fairly pale. But I begged her to let me go as it was the day of our trip to the National Museum of Scotland and I absolutely didn’t want to miss it!

What museum would you love to visit?

I’ve worked on two loan exhibitions from the State Hermitage Museum and the artefacts were absolutely amazing. So, I would love to visit the museum in St Petersburg to see more of the collections, and I’ve heard the building itself is pretty impressive too.

What is your dream museum job?

I actually really love the job I have. I’ve loved the National Museum of Scotland since visiting there as a kid, and now I get to work there! Asking people lots of questions is really interesting, and it’s satisfying to know that the outcomes of my research help to improve the visitor experience.

When you think of the perfect exhibit, what is in it?

The perfect exhibit would have different layers of interpretation and cater to different learning styles. That doesn’t necessarily mean having the latest state-of-the-art digital interactives though. Something that encourages dialogue among visitors, or self reflection with oneself, can create just as much, if not more, of a lasting memory and experience.

Who is the funnier museum twitterer…@SUEtheTrex or @NatHistoryWhale?

Tricky question, as I’ve only just discovered both of them, but I think so far @SUEtheTrex has made me laugh more. I’m also a big fan of @OWNEYtheDOG from the National Postal Museum.

What is the most random item you have bought from a museum gift shop?

Probably a rosary with a picture of Pope Benedikt XVI on it at the Vatican Museums during a trip to Rome in 2006.

To test your museum knowledge…put these museums in order from earliest founded to most recently created: The Smithsonian, The British Museum, The Rijksmuseum, The Louvre, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Don’t worry if you don’t know…just make a guess!

Oh, I think I know four of these. The oldest is the British Museum (mid 18th C), the Louvre was turn of the 18th/19th C, the Smithsonian in the 1840s, and I would guess that the MET is the most recent one. I have to admit I have no idea where the Rijksmuseum fits in.

You may have heard of the Month at the Museum contest recently held at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. What museum would you move into for a month if you could?

If it’s for a whole month, I would probably choose St Fagans National History Museum in Wales, where I did an internship during my museum studies. It’s an open air museum with over forty different buildings, including a church, a school, a post office, a grocery store, various houses to sleep in, a working bakery and even a castle, so for a whole month there would a building for every situation.

Out of all the museums you have visited so far, which one if your favourite?

There’s so many to choose from, but one that I particularly adore is the Edo Tokyo Museum in Japan. The building is absolutely massive – they’ve got a full-scale kabuki theatre inside – and there’s lots to explore, with some of the interpretation helpfully being in English. The last time we visited a very friendly elderly gentleman showed us how to make origami sumo fighters!

What is the most bizarre museum you have visited?

It would have to be the Phallological Museum in Húsavik, Iceland, which we visited during our honeymoon no less. As the founder, owner and curator said to us, “Well, what’s a retired teacher to do but open a museum about phalluses? Times are tough, you know.”

Thanks to Jenni for sharing her experiences. If you’re interested in participating in the “I’m A Museum Person” series, send us an email at editor@museumist.com, and we’ll get your story up on the site.

(re-blogged from museumist.com)


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