Museum Mascots on Social Media: Part 1

February 20, 2012


20 February 2012

I’m really excited about this week. Firstly, because I’m off on a short holiday to Edinburgh to see the new Fascinating Mummies exhibition at my beloved National Museum of Scotland, and to attend the RBS Museum Lates: Night of the Mummy event. Secondly, because I’ve always been a huge fan of the National Postal Museum (a.k.a. “my favourite Smithsonian”) ever since my first visit to Washington, DC, and am therefore thrilled to introduce a very special guest blogger who will be keeping this blog going while I’m on my well deserved break – none other than Owney the Dog himself!

You may remember the two hashtag events that took place on Twitter last October, #tweetmuseumexhibs, initiated by @OisinTheDeer, and the @CultureThemes #MuseumMascot theme. Well, Owney has interviewed some of those mascots and will be sharing his results with you in a series of guest blog posts this week. So, without further ado, over to Owney…

I’m Friends with Two Mummies, a Mammoth, a Sabertooth Cat, and an 1800s Tavernkeeper, and You Can Be, Too! 

By Owney the Dog, a real, 1890s terrier mutt who gained fame and the admiration of postal workers by exploring the country by mail train and acting as a good luck charm to ward off wrecks, now a resident of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, DC.

In my wanderings by Railway Mail trains, I made friends around the country, feasting on mail clerks’ lunches and exploring towns from New York to California. I don’t get around much these days (seeing as how I’m on display at the Postal Museum) but I find social networking is a great way to meet new people—and, er, ancient animals, like my partially-excavated pal Sandy the Mammoth. Ever since I joined Facebook and Twitter (a move inspired by SUE the T-rex at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, and Blobby the Blobfish of the Australian Museum), I’ve gotten to know other critters and characters from museums around the world and learned a little about their lives. I’d like to introduce you to some of my talkative friends. (Warning: all are dead and some have big teeth, but they’re still friendly.)

Three marvelous mummies

Befriend a mummy and you’ll instantly feel young! Born in 1888, I’m a spring chicken compared to Djehutymose of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who died around 684-525 BC. Djehutymose’s coffin is unusually artistic and it’s painted inside and out so he may have been one popular priest—perhaps that’s why 1,430 people follow him on Facebook and Twitter today. He was also a tad tall so his coffin was hollowed out a bit to give him more room. “You can still see where the wood was carved out,” he says. But poor Djehutymose is missing his mummy. So if you see an extra tall mummy wandering around sans coffin, direct him to Ann Arbor, ok?

Two other mummy friends hale from the Kalamazoo Valley Museum in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and the Louisiana Art and Science Museum in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. KVM Mummy (below left) is known for being pretty sassy on Twitter where about 300 people follow this ancient museum mascot. According to KVM Mummy, “I don’t remember much about my life before coming to the United States. Before I moved to Kalamazoo, I lived in San Francisco and survived the 1906 earthquake. My first home in Kalamazoo was in a glass case in the dining room of a local business man. His lovely wife was quite happy to see me move to the museum in 1928.”

LASM Mummy (below right) joined Twitter to get through lonely nights after the museum closed. Scans in 2007 revealed that this mummy still has its spleen and brain plus a few broken ribs. LAS Mummy says, “I have still have my hair even though I am over 2,000 years old and it’s looking good!” Maybe I should have invited the mummies to my makeover?

Coming up in Parts 2 & 3: A seafaring dog and a sabertooth cat; a tavernkeeper and a miner; large beasts, short tweets

[All images courtesy of the respective museum mascots.]

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