Unrepentant history nerd and karaoke diva.

I currently serve as the digital media coordinator & program assistant for the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities, where I wrangle bloggers and tackle our social media platforms; and as a museum assistant at the Wells Fargo History Museum in Philadelphia. I'm the proud holder of a masters degree in public history.

Some projects I've worked on: an oral history database using StoriesMatter for the Salem County Historical Society, a collection of data on school group attendance for the education department at Cleveland's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the digitization of the Balch Institute Ethnic Images in Advertising Collection at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. I also volunteer at the Alice Paul Institute in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey.

I travel when possible and attend Philadelphia Orchestra and Philadelphia Chamber Music Society concerts when possible. Plays and musicals are good fun.

In my spare time I am often silly and irreverent.



Over the years I’ve learned to never discuss politics, religion and abortion with other people, especially relatives, but this is the United States where everyone is paranoid and uptight about everything so I shouldn’t worry too much about it. My apologies to any Americans who were offended by that statement, but you probably just proved my point. Anyway, it’s no surprise the Museum of Contraception and Abortion is located in Bible Belt U.S.A. Just kidding! That would be blasphemous. It’s in Vienna, Austria of course.

Without adopting a specific position, and just focusing on history, the Museum für Verhütung und Schwangerschaftsabbruch presents a straightforward display of over 700 documents and items related to reproduction, contraception and termination of pregnancies. Opened five years ago by Viennese gynecologist Christian Fiala, the contraception room displays ancient condoms made of pig bladders next to the first modern pregnancy tests of the 1960s. Also on view are instruments for vaginal douching called ‘irrigators’ and a lipstick that claims to work better than the pill. In case visitors are unsure of where the diaphragm and the coils of intrauterine devices are located and what the pill actually does to the inside of the body, there are anatomical models to clearly demonstrate how this shit works. Thank god for that! In the abortion room knitting needles and bicycle spokes, used to induce abortions up until the 1960s, show how dangerous the practice was until just recently. On display are posters from the 1926 German silent film, Kreuzzug des Weibes (The Wife’s Crusade), the first of its kind to tell the story about anti-abortion politics and women’s reproductive rights.

A few things I learned… it was only in 1930 that Prof. Hermann Knaus of Austria (and Prof. Kyusaku Ogino of Japan) established the cycle of a woman’s days of fertility and ovulation (and men still don’t understand women’s bodies); the abortion rate in the Netherlands and Switzerland is one third of the United States (supposedly the Swiss have more gynecologists than most countries and their sex education standards are quite high); in the early 20th century coca-cola was used as a form of contraceptive (yep, just rinse that vagina immediately after sex, yo but make sure it’s diet). All so interesting!

Hey, at least we have a Museum of Sex…and some institutions have exhibits… and, and, that’s all I got.  Props to Austria!



This is hilarious. I want young children telling me about every museum I go to. 

It’s not an official MoMA audio tour, but I wonder if this is something it or other art museums might actually consider creating. I love the irreverence and fun it has with modern art, but irreverent fun is something that museums tend to be very cautious about.

Is this something that might start to open up intimidating museums to non-traditional visitors. Thoughts?

This has the potential to ease non-traditional visitors into the temple that is MOMA (or any other institution for that matter) but I think what makes it great will be the first thing lost when it is an audio tour.  


So, imagine walking through an exhibit with a kid.. whatever age, so long as they are verbal and self-propelled.  They run from one artifact or art work to another, pointing out what they like, asking questions about things they don’t get, and voicing loudly and regularly, “this is ugly”, “this looks like candy”, “I want one” etc.  The adults in the group (let’s pretend they aren’t shushing them) are hysterical, but also trying to understand their kiddos’ comments and answer questions in ways the kid will understand.  In so doing, the adults have to engage with the piece as an adult AND through the eyes of the child, AND then talk to each other and the child about what they see.  THEN they can re-engage or negotiate understanding.  That’s pretty amazing stuff.  

(Caveat: I have not heard the audio tour, so my understanding of what it entails might be skewed)

An audio tour takes the interactivity out.  It just does.  When a family walks through an exhibit wearing headphones they often aren’t talking.  The headsets are great because you can fast forward, rewind and skip entire sections, but you can’t do that with a real live child.  

You lose the process. 

Is it still amazing?  Yes, sure.  I think I’d enjoy the MOMA more through the voices of children.  But rather than being able to engage with a young mind, it’ll be more like an episode of “Kids say the darndest things.”  It has value in its own way, but doesn’t capitalize on all its strengths.

Instead what I’d like to see are child-led or family-led tours of institutions (okay, maybe just single galleries), where you are given the chance to see things from a different perspective and consequently engage with and question that perspective in real-time.  Wouldn’t that be exciting? 

colieolie asked:



I’ve let this ask sit for a few days, because it made me feel some notion of sadness to read. I think I owe you an apology, because I do not want to be misleading in the content of this blog.

I am a junior BA in Museum Studies/Art History. I am thousands of dollars in debt going into a highly competitive non-profit field that almost always necessitates further schooling. I can’t say honestly that majoring in, for example, business would be much wiser with the amount of debt I have, but I certainly can’t think of anything more precarious in terms of a manageable future. Your friends and family aren’t wrong - going into an industry that almost always means you will make very little money relative to your education, despite having spent massive amounts on the education necessary to obtain your job (if you get one at all) is unwise at best.

Going over the stats in my Museum Education class only compounded the points further in my mind — the people who get into the field of museums are mostly rich and (by extension) mostly white. I am not at all rich, and latina, so from the beginning I knew things would be “different” for me. If you’re very rich, more power to you! But I think you should be honest with yourself if you are not. The field of Museums is a horrible waste of your money if you don’t have any. You have no way of getting it back - you just have to hope that working for a non-profit and paying loans on time for long enough (I think it’s something like 13 years…?) means the government will forgive your loans. Eventually. Grad school that is unfunded is the definition of a waste of your money. Or your parent’s money. They’re not reminding you of this to be mean, they’re trying to help you.

I am not telling you it’s impossible, I’m telling you it’s difficult at best. I’m telling you that I have been passed over for an internship (despite prior experience) in favor of someone who had absolutely no experience related whatsoever, and said she got the job for showing enough enthusiasm. I’m telling you that will happen. People who have nothing prior will get the job. People will apply for jobs they’re not at all qualified in, and massive amounts of other qualified people will also apply. I’m telling you, that my brutally honest professor’s “pep” talk was that I needed a 3.8 GPA for Graduate school, that I shouldn’t bother applying to top schools because I go to a massive non-elite state school (I can’t afford elsewhere), and that a Master’s in Museum Studies would be pointless. I need a PhD in Art History. I’m telling you my less brutally honest professor informed us she had a complete breakdown six weeks into Grad School and had to remember to start doing things that weren’t studying for Grad School again (things like functioning at a healthy livable level).

You need to be brutally honest about why you’re doing this. It’s not to make money. And it’s not because you think the mass public thinks what you want to do is a necessity to society the same way a Civil Engineer or a Firefighter or a Doctor might be. Hell, most people know what a lawyer does, you’re lucky if people even know what “Museum Studies” does - besides the hesitant “Do you want to be a curator?” So if not for recognition (worth), or money (unlikely), why do you do this?

It’s because you really, really love doing it.

But please don’t bear false hopes based on this blog - not when I purposefully reblog things like this. I’ve only had one person in the field insist that the outlook isn’t so dismal as I believe it to be, but most every grad student or young professional appears concerned at best.

Frankly, as passionate as I am, as much as I want to work in this field, I have started considering what my back up plans and abilities could be. All my experience is in the Arts field right now, save for some minor temp-work. Frankly, I’ve been looking at everything from teaching english abroad for a year to continuing temp and maybe secretarial work. I have no promise of a job in the field or a grad school acceptance (that I can afford.) I just lined up an internship for my next semester at a great little gallery, but I understand that all the internships in the world won’t assure me a career in the field.

I’m not trying to caution you away from this, or your Graduate degree. But I do think you should be honest about what the realities of it are.

The Museologist is legit.

Ah, the eternal debate: glass half full versus glass half empty.  Perhaps it’s: Dude, where’s my glass?  Friends in the field assure me that I will “get something,” that the BA in history, the MA in Public History, and three unpaid internships serve as a good foundation for many entry-level positions.  I agree.  I have developed some pretty strong skills, but so have any number of people in my classes, my region, my profession. So on and so forth.

It’s hard.  It’s hard because growing up I was told to should do something I love for a so that I would always love going to work.  As we’ve gotten older, we’ve realized that’s not always possible; sometimes you just get a job so that you can keep living.  There’s no shame in that, sometimes those second or even third choices can be fun, but man… it hurts.  

It hurts to know things and work at a place that doesn’t care, or at the very least, can’t find a purpose for the things you know.  So of course we keep trying.  The Museologist is right, be enthusiastic, but respect yourself enough to keep your eyes open. 

Unsolicited Advice Warning:  What I have found to be beneficial is expanding the circle of people you know.  Keep going to events if you can, and not just museum conferences but lectures by public humanists, THATCamps, workshops or graduate student conferences.  Many of these will be free, dirt cheap, or perhaps even subsidized, check to see if your department offers travel scholarships.  Once you hit these events talk to the people.  Ask questions.  Introduce yourself or kindly ask a person to introduce you around.  All three of my internships came about from personal relationships and networking.  

A caveat:  Getting to work for free is SO MUCH EASIER than convincing someone to let you work for them for money.  When I figure out the magic combination of skills, intellect and charisma that conjures careers, I’m going to patent it and retire.

(Source: )


Over 1,500 US Museums Are Free This Weekend

Get thee to a museum!  In case you need more incentive than IT IS FREE, check out this story about a British study that showed people who go to museums are happier than those who do not.  


Over 1,500 US Museums Are Free This Weekend

Get thee to a museum!  In case you need more incentive than IT IS FREE, check out this story about a British study that showed people who go to museums are happier than those who do not.  

A Christmas Story House: Cleveland, Ohio

This post comes late, as I made this trip the third weekend in July.  I didn’t have to tell you that, but now it’s out here on the internet.  No regrets.  

What can I say?  I only started watching A Christmas Story once it got regular play on TNT during the holidays.  It cracked me up, because by the time I saw it, the movie already looked really dated and the premise was absolutely ridiculous.  It wasn’t the smartest movie I’ve ever seen, but it is quirky, sarcastic, and just the right kind of cheesy.  I tell you this because I wasn’t all that sure if I needed to visit the Christmas Story House.  A number of friends gently suggested I would lose valuable body parts should I return to New Jersey without visiting the house.  

So I went to the house.

The Christmas Story house is indeed the house used in the exterior shots of the movie.  It was purchased in 2004 by Brian Jones, a man whose only tie to the film is his undying love of The Christmas Story.  Once inside, you realize that the interiors were by and large filmed on a soundstage; the interior has been recreated meticulously by Jones to match the film.  The downside to this is the disappointment that nothing is real.  The upside is that you can actually sit in the old man’s chair in the living room.  Honestly, hoping for reality on a recreated movie set is probably a bit silly anyway. 

The guided tour is really a 30 minute lecture given by one of the docents, after which visitors are turned loose in the house for fifteen minutes.  The docent regales the captive audience with the entire story of how Cleveland was chosen as the location for the movie, how the house was selected, and its purchase and renovation in the past few years.  I won’t go so far as to say the talk was boring, but I will say that the two young adults sitting next to me on the couch fell asleep, twice.  

It was informative, and all the stories were good and told with an enthusiasm I’m sure I couldn’t match, but we sat and sat and sat.  That’s boring my friends.  One possible solution would be to have a limited number of timed tickets, have one docent upstairs and one downstairs.  Start the first part of the tour outside on the covered porch and have the second part inside while moving through the house.  I think the “sit here while I talk at you” model probably works really well at Christmas when they are undoubtedly inundated with visitors.  It does not work at any other time. 

Once visitors are allowed to roam through the house, it becomes clear very quickly that there isn’t much to see.  Don’t get me wrong, it is really cool to see Ralphie’s and Randy’s bedroom—each bed draped with a pink bunny costume, the bar of soap on the bathroom sink, the old timey washing machine in the kitchen, or even the push-button light switches.  I grew up with those!  It is SMALL.  That’s all I mean.  

When you go, and you really should, park on the street.  Do not shell out $15 to park in the neighbor’s yard, there is street parking aplenty in Cleveland.  Do visit the museum across the road.  They have some great behind the scene snapshots from the filming, the original costumes worn by the waiters at the Chinese restaurant, and a number of promotional movie posters from around the world.  

There is one danger spot in the museum, in the toy room.  There, stationed by a television screen playing a Christmas Story documentary is Jim Moralevitz who delivered the major award to the old man.  He is a perfectly nice man; he was warm and open to questions.  He was also very chatty.  Sometimes I just want to walk through unmolested.   He is a dedicated volunteer however, and soldiered on in his spiel despite an expression on my face that bordered on rude.  Might have even tiptoed into rude once or twice, even.

It is worth the admission price—$10/adults, $6/kiddos 7-12, $8/Seniors—so long as you don’t fork over the fifteen clams for parking.  It would likely be more exciting as one gets closer to Christmas than it is in the dead of one of the hottest Julys on record.  Take that into account.  

If you’re going to take kids, make sure they’ve seen the flick, otherwise, it is just another house full of stuff they aren’t supposed to touch.  The docent isn’t necessarily going to help make it exciting, so you may have to step up.

The Christmas Story House is open Thursday-Saturday: 10am-5pm and Saturday: 12pm-5pm (Closed major holidays).  According to the website tours run every half hour, but I’m almost positive they were running every hour when I was there.  

The website is craziness, but jammed full of pictures, clips, blogs and news.  If you are a Christmas Story freak you’ve probably already gone there, but if you haven’t do so now.  

Bac is billed as the official Chinese restaurant for the Christmas Story House and is open for business just down the street.  Finding the Chinese food (and honestly most of the Asian food) in Cleveland a bit disappointing, I skipped it.  Go to Melt instead.  Besides, Bac isn’t even the Chop Suey Palace.  The original Chop Suey Palace and the William G. Harding School scenes were filmed on location in Toronto.  Higbee’s was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 as part of the Union Terminal Group, and has since become the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland.  

Go.  Sit in the old man’s chair.  Buy a major award in the museum shop.  

Just don’t pay for the parking.  

My father requested photos of the Spousal Unit and I for a semi-serious family thing.  So for the last week I’ve been digging through old vacation pics trying to find images where we look vaguely human and mostly happy.  I stumbled on this image tonight.  Pretty sure I’ve posted it before, but Mr. Bunny tells the truth, I do love museums.  Why not let that love out?  
This particular photo was taken last summer in Singapore by the lovely Spousal Unit.  It will not be sent along to my father.  He’ll just have to get on Tumblr or Facebook if he wants to see my frolicking with inanimate objects.  

My father requested photos of the Spousal Unit and I for a semi-serious family thing.  So for the last week I’ve been digging through old vacation pics trying to find images where we look vaguely human and mostly happy.  I stumbled on this image tonight.  Pretty sure I’ve posted it before, but Mr. Bunny tells the truth, I do love museums.  Why not let that love out?  

This particular photo was taken last summer in Singapore by the lovely Spousal Unit.  It will not be sent along to my father.  He’ll just have to get on Tumblr or Facebook if he wants to see my frolicking with inanimate objects.  

The Google Doodle Museum

I am probably late to the party, but I had no idea this existed.  I was missing the Moog doodle from last week and just plugged in “google doodles.”  Next thing I see is “Museum of Google logos commemorating… blah blah blah.”  

Like any good museum, it provides you with its genesis.  How did doodles originate?  

You can limit the search by year and by geographical region.  For giggles I searched for China, 2008 (the year of the Beijing Olympics).  Anything where you see a dragon executing a slam-dunk can’t be all bad, right?  There has to be an academic paper in here somewhere.  Heck, someone has probably already written one. 

Click on any doodle and it loads, full-size.  If it had interactive parts, the parts should still work.  For example, Mr. Moog’s Marvelous Machine.

I’d missed quite a few, Like Faith Ringgold’s tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Day and the somewhat strange 125th Anniversary of the Largest Snowflake.  

You could spend significant time exploring Google Doodles.  My take away from the site is the increasing variety and complexity of some of the doodles, and not just the interactive ones.  I’m intrigued by the doodles created by/for countries other than the U.S.  

There appears to be a somewhat rand section called More Doodles on the bottom right under the isolated doodle.  For example, this gem from Sweden.  

This museum even has a doodle store.  Are you particularly fond of the Charles Dickens 200th birthday doodle?  Slap that puppy on a canvas tote bag for only $19.95 ($12.95 bulk!).  Forgive my cynicism, but I find myself reacting to this museum store in much the same way I do most museum stores… with an overwhelming sense of WHY?

Visiting this museum is free, except for the cost of your web browsing device, internet provider, and the countless hours wasted in browsing the hall of doodles.  

Yes, Spring courses are over.  I have a brief window before the start of a summer course on historical archaeology (my last class!).  Then, I rush off to Cleveland for the  internship.  

Maya.2012: Lords of Time

Now through January 13, 2013 at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.  

Tickets appear to be pretty easy to get, but I went on a rainy Thursday.  Adults: 22.50, 65+: 18.50, 6-12: 16.50, Student: 16.50, Military: 18.50.    This includes the price of admission to the whole museum.  

The rest of the UPenn Museum is at best uneven, but there area number of interesting pieces.  There is an intriguing crystal sphere in the Asia gallery, and a pair of cloisonné lions from Beijing.  I’m usually more excited by the Asian areas in museums, but this left me unimpressed.  The museum has a number of more extensive exhibits: Imagine Africa was well visited.  I have to admit, we were in a bit of a time crunch and walked straight to the Lords of Time exhibit.   We did take ten minutes to watch part of the What in the World installation.  It didn’t quite work for us.  You have no idea when you push a button by a mystery object how long its corresponding video will be.  I love trying to guess what things are, but this was more an hyper-extended, super-dry biography of an object.  Meh. (Yes, that is my professional opinion.  Meh.)  There is an online version for those who want to play at home.  

pigeonsandpomegranates said: I’m from Charlotte! If you need tips or want names of people to meet at the museums, let me know!!!

That would be great.  I’m trying to talk myself out of the NASCAR Hall of Fame ( I don’t watch NASCAR, but it is so big and shiny), but I’m not sure that’s going to work.  I’m thinking of going to the Museum of the New South, The Bechtler, The Mint Museum, and maybe the Gantt Center.  We will probably hit up the Charlotte Museum of History on Friday.  How does that look?