A longer hiatus than expected

You can’t fail a museum. —Frank Oppenheimer

Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes life REALLY gets in the way.

It’s been almost a year since my last post. In that time, I’ve run a half-marathon, gone to my first AAM conference, finished grad school, worked 6 different jobs at 5 different institutions, and have finally settled in for the next seven months as a law enforcement/judges educator and online outreach project coordinator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where I get to save the world every single day.

I work here!

USHMM, Washington, DC. Image credit North Carolina Council on the Holocaust.

In the last year, I’ve done a lot of thinking about museums as part of my job-searching soul-searching. What is it that fascinates me so much about them? My relationship with museums has changed as I’ve left grad school and gone on to work as an evaluator, educator, researcher, marketer, and camp counselor in a very short period of time, as I’ve seen institutions hungering to be more than they are right now, to reach out and have visitors come who are just as passionate as the staff about what the institution has to offer.  I think it’s just made me fall more deeply in love with the idea of the museum as a place that brings people together, that allows us to explore our collective humanity and challenge our misconceptions about history, about ourselves, and about each other.

My relationship with museums has also changed as I spend more time downtown: the boy’s brother stored his suitcase at the Freer during the Rally to Restore Sanity, I popped into American History for a long drink of water during a training run around the mall, my family met up outside the National Gallery to take pictures after I graduated from GW. Museums are not just a part of my intellectual and professional life, they’re a part of my everyday.

As a working girl, I’ve found myself having less and less time to visit museums other than my own. I want to change that. I miss the inspiration for my own work and stimulation of my curiosity about things other than European history and the American justice system (much as I adore my job and the fact that I do get to study these things every day–and get paid to do it!), and most of all I miss talking to other people about museums. I miss not being the only one in a room whose eyes sparkle when talking about a new exhibit or a previously undiscovered piece of an old favorite, who talks too fast and with her hands because the excitement is just that hard to contain.

To that end, welcome to the Museums 365 reboot. We’ll be starting where we left off and trying again to see all of DC’s museums between now and next Valentine’s Day. I can’t wait.

Laura DiSciullo

The wonderful museum-and-animal-loving Laura!

Please also welcome the wonderful Laura DiSciullo, a grad school classmate of mine, who blogs at Informed Humane. She’ll be adding her thoughts and views on her museum visits, and somewhere between the two of us we’ll see all those museums in the next 365 days.

Now soliciting suggestions for the next first museum visit!


About museums365

Museum educator, space lover, baseball fan, citizen history rabble-rouser.

Posted on February 11, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Good luck with it! How many museums are there in DC?

    • Wikipedia lists 67, but I’m guessing there are a few more historic houses or small galleries out there, and the newest ones (like the German-American Heritage Museum in Chinatown) aren’t included.

      Given the fact that it took my boyfriend and I four weekends to see all of Natural History, we’re looking at a LOT of museum time in the next year. 🙂

      • I’m honored by your introduction, and so glad that Duncan is in your blog!

        Will we ever get a number of how many museums are in DC? So hard to define… AAM’s directory lists museums like the National Museum of Catholic Art and History, which (as I found out after some Internet searches) is not yet a museum in DC. Some of the organizations listed appear to have collections, but no public access to them.

        Then consider…
        Is the National Gallery of Art one museum or two?
        What about the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery? (They may well be separate, but it would be hard to visit one without visiting the other.)
        How about all the monuments, historic sites, and National Parks in DC?
        What about embassies that host exhibits?

        Here I am on a mission to visit a different museum every week, and I am not even sure exactly what definition of “museum” I’m using.

      • Well, we should come up with a definition, then!

        My thoughts (from discussions with The Boy last year):
        NGA is one museum (that will take us several days to cover)
        SAAM and NPG count as separate museums that will likely be visited at the same time and considered in a comparative fashion
        Mall monuments will be done all in one blow the first pretty spring weekend day we get (that’s been in the works as a plan the whole time)
        National parks contained within the District lines will count
        Embassies seem to fall in the same category as Sixth and I: historical buildings that can function as historic sites and occasionally exhibition spaces. I view them as corollaries to the M365 project that can be picked up and written about as highlights.

      • Definitions are difficult. I’ve definitely given thought to it, without coming up with a good answer.

        Your list can also include the Octagon and the Department of the Interior Museum (neither of which appears to be open to visitors at the moment, however), the White House itself if you think it counts, Washington National Cathedral, US Navy Memorial museum (which I visited yesterday), Anderson House, the new National Pinball Museum in Georgetown, National Federation of Women’s Clubs and Meridian International Center (I’m not too familiar with these, but they are listed in the Dupont Kalorama consortium), African American Civil War Memorial Museum, Washington Historical Society, Howard University Musuem, and all those national parks. (Because obviously I think you aren’t busy enough as it is. :-p )

  2. I thought you already visited both SAAM and the portrait gallery in full Museums365 depth and glory. Couldn’t you settle the 1 vs. 2 museum debate with an intertwined post?

    After all, it is easier to see one with the other. Also with cupcakes, though you should finish those on the steps, because you don’t want to get frosting on the art…

    • Hello, boyfriend! I think it’s two museums, but you need one to understand the other. What are your thoughts, before I post, since you were there?

      Mmm, step cupcakes. I don’t know, think there are a few paintings in SAAM that might be improved with a little red velvet . . .

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