Interview with the Adopt-a-Museum Creator

June 14, 2012

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I’m really excited to be featured on THEMUSEUM Blog this week! A couple of months ago, Derek Weidl, Digital Media & Marketing Coordinator at THEMUSEUM, did an email interview with me about Adopt-a-Museum and my love of museums. As life goes, other things got in between, but earlier this week the interview finally got posted. Here’s a re-blog:

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I reached out to Jennifer Fuchs from Museum140 about her Adopt-A-Museum project, an amazing website she runs where she highlights the world’s unsung museums. We got talking and it became quickly apparent that she does some really cool stuff and I thought it would be fun to do an email interview, which she promptly agreed with, responded to and returned. I then (also promptly) lost it to the email abyss and it seemed like it was doomed to be forever missing. But being the persistent person she is, Jennifer diligently followed up and supplied me with an updated interview that is equally as awesome as the lost one! So enjoy and be sure to follow her on Twitter at @jennifuchs and Museum140 at @museum140.

(oh yeah, go ahead and “adopt us” while you’re at it!)

Derek: Why don’t you start off by telling us a bit about yourself?

Jennifer: I’m a complete museum geek (I attended a museum conference in the middle of my honeymoon!) and have been working in the museum sector for over ten years now in the areas of museum education, event organisation, audience research and social media. I was at National Museums Scotland for almost 8 years, and recently started working at the National Museums in Berlin, after my husband’s work brought us here. I also sit on the Board of ICOM’s Committee for Education and Cultural Action. In my spare time I work on my own projects for Museum140 (www.museum140.com), write a blog about all things museum (http://museumdiary.com), and spend way too much time on Twitter (@jennifuchs).

Derek: What is Adopt-a-Museum? What inspired you to start this project?

Jennifer: Adopt-A-Museum aims to put the spotlight on the unsung heroes of the museum world. It’s essentially a crowdsourced blog, which each week features a different person writing about a great museum they think the world should know about. There’s also a map showing all the locations. It’s not a real adoption, of course, there’s no sponsorship or anything like that involved. It’s an adoption in the sense of being an ambassador. The project was inspired by a visit to the absolutely fabulous but shockingly under-visited Röntgen Museum in Germany, and reading just one too many “World’s Most Popular Museums” list featuring the usual suspects.

Derek: You seem to have a love affair with museums. Was there a specific artifact, moment, or museum that sparked this love?

Jennifer: The first museum I ever remember visiting was the National Museum of Scotland as a kid in the 80s. I have a vivid memory of begging my mum not to make me stay home from school one time, despite having a temperature, as I didn’t want to miss the trip to the museum. Almost 20 years later I ended up working there – it took me 18 months and 3 interviews to finally get my job as Audience Research Officer, I was like a dog with a bone! So it was hard leaving, but I’m ready for some new museum love affairs in Berlin.

Derek: What has been your favourite museum featured on Adopt-a-Museum?

Jennifer: Obviously the Röntgen Museum, since that’s my own ‘adoptee’ and the one that gave birth to the whole project. And the Húsavik Whale Museum that my husband (who does the tech support for Museum140) chose is special to me, since we visited it on our honeymoon. Out of the other ones I don’t have a personal connection to, I’d most like to visit the Swiss Games Museum. I have a thing for museums that are a bit unusual or quirky. But recently I was in Barcelona, and decided to check out the European Museum of Modern Art, which was No.15 to feature on Adopt-a-Museum. I don’t have a huge interest in modern art, and without the project I would never had visited, but I really enjoyed it.

Derek:  What’s your favourite museum that you’ve visited in person?

Jennifer: I have so many favourites, including the ones I’ve already mentioned, but another 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! The Neanderthal Museum in Germany and the Smithsonian Postal Museum are also personal favourites I like to visit again and again.

Derek: If you were a museum, what kind of place would you be?

Jennifer: Well, I’ve lived and/or worked in Germany, Scotland, Germany, Scotland, USA, Scotland, England, Wales, England, USA, England, Scotland, Germany…you get the idea, so I’d probably be a travelling exhibition! Also, I have to admit to having a rather short attention span as a museum visitor, so there would have to be lots of different things to see and do. And, of course, it would be a little bit quirky (**wink**).

Derek: How can people get involved with your project?

Jennifer: It’s really easy – all you need to do is get in touch with us at Museum140 (http://adopt.museum140.com/contact) and we’ll send you a short questionnaire to complete. Just return it to us at your earliest convenience, along with a photo if you have one, and we’ll schedule it to appear on the blog. We have had over fifty questionnaires in circulation at the moment, but they are much slower coming back so usually you don’t have to wait for long until your museum features. You can also take part by commenting on the already featured museums, and if you end up visiting one as a result of the project we’d of course love to hear about it!

Derek: Finally, how do we get featured on Adopt-a-Museum (**wink**)?

Jennifer: Well, there are only three simple rules for our featured museums: we’re not interested in any widely famous museums, you need to have visited at least once – because we feel you can’t be an ambassador for something you’ve never been to, and you can’t adopt your own museum, i.e. where you work or volunteer. But the project has recently taken an interesting turn with museums wanting to be involved and putting calls out for people to adopt them. That’s absolutely allowed, so you could try that route (**smile**). It would be our dream to make it to 100 featured museums!

(Re-blogged from THEMUSEUM)

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2 Responses to “Interview with the Adopt-a-Museum Creator”

  1. Theresa Macaulay Says:

    Hey Jenni, I’m just letting you know I nominated you for the Inspiring Blogger Award. It’s just a bit of fun and to let you know I care ☺ Have a wonderful weekend, Theresa

    Reply

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