My old digging amiga MooseandHobbes passed along to me a challenge she had previously received from some of her museum associates. The original version HERE and her answer and onward challenge to me HERE. Basically it is about asking me to answer a few questions about Museums and blogging. And I will, by and by. But it got me thinking about Museums, how they got started and so forth.
In Greek mythology the Muses were daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. (Mnemosyne btw was the Goddess of Memory, which given Zeus' incessant dalliances must have made for one interesting relationship!). The Muses were generally said to be nine in number and to be the inspiration for literature, science and the arts. Urania (Astronomy) was the only one who seemed oriented towards what we would call science, the rest were associated with poetry, dance, comedy, history and so forth. Our word for music derives from the Muses. So does amusement. And of course, Museum.
At first glance the connection between goddesses and enlightening collections of artifacts would seem slight. Indeed, in some ways learning by studying something is the polar opposite of just sitting around and waiting for Terpsicore and Erato and Melpemone to send you a batch o' Inspiration. But historical accident played a role.
The Greeks were always big on shrines and groves and such to honor their deities. So the Muses had a number of sacred sites. One of these shrines in Alexandria Egypt became associated with the Great Library and the circle of scholars that lived and worked there. Hence the association of scholasticism with collecting knowlege from the far corners of the world became forever linked to the term Museum.
Now, on to the Challenge Questions and my answers.
1. Who are you and what do you like about blogging?
I am an eccentric, washed up by circumstance into mundane surroundings. I study things that I find curious. I blog about them in hopes others will be amused.
2. What is the most popular post on your blog?
By a large margin this would be Three Guys versus the Asian Carp. Something about our tale of trying to dispatch ten billion rambunctious invasive fish resonated with, er, somebody.
3. How do you decide what to post about?
See answer #1.
4. Do you have a post you have hesitated on posting?
Sure. Anything relating to family. And posts relating to my work in the ER have to be heavily edited and usually delayed for months to years. Privacy and all.
5. What is your favorite local or specialist museum? The smaller and more random the better.
You asked for it. The Wilderness Museum associated with the Moccasin Bar in Hayward Wisconsin. Lets have a few pictures now, shall we?
6. Would you encourage someone who does not like museums to visit the aforementioned museum?
If you don't like this kind of stuff I have nothing more to say to you.
7. What is your earliest museum memory?
As a young lad of perhaps 6 or 7 visiting the odd collections in the basement of the Minneapolis Public Library. They had a mummy that looked pretty old and dried up. I was more impressed with a gigantic crab that looked as if its pinchers could really put a hurt on ya.
8. What is the last museum you visited and what did you see?
Saw some good stuff on our trip to Europe last year. Hercules was looking especially mighty.
9. Have you seen an exhibit in a museum that you felt, or came close to feeling, should not have been displayed?
Not really. My inclination is towards history museums and even a casual acquaintance with History shows you that we made a lot of mistakes in the past. It is part of what we are. On a global level the general removal of Native American remains and tableaus of "Primitive Peoples" is probably good. I always stared at the depictions of a Pygmy village and thought "Sure, they don't seem to be doing that well but probably better than the malaria enfevered, dysentery befouled explorer whose perspective we are asked to assume....."
10. If you could live in a museum, which would you chose?
The greatest collection of historic tanks on earth is at Kubinka outside of Moscow. Make sure the keys are in 'em and I would be a happy camper for a long time.
11. What is the oddest search term that has led people to your blog?
I'm not going anywhere near that one.
So, there you have it. My musings on Muses and Museums. As I was encouraged to post my own variation on the Eleven Questions for others to have a swipe at I shall do so tomorrow.