8am- text from Terri. ‘Good morning! Shall we post your article tonight? Who have we invited for Wednesday?’
Reply: ‘I was thinking maybe we could post the Sensing Spaces review on Tuesday so I can live tweet the NPG opening tonight?’
Kristin: For the night’s private view, a few friends and I prepare to engage in that most sacred of museum traditions – pretending to be our superiors to get free wine. Exhibition openings are one of the best perks of museum work- nibbles, drinks and a chance to see new shows before anyone else. In an industry where we work for very little pay, museum people will scramble for a coveted place on a PV guest list. Of course traditionally it’s the higher ups who get the invites to such events. But in reality invitations are passed around museum departments like hot commodities. ‘Invitation not transferrable’ they usually read. We laugh in the face of such regulations. I can only imagine what the events staff must think at these events. Did you know the Director of that museum is a twenty-something woman?
For every museum person or museum lover who can’t come along, we always try to live tweet these events. The quality of the tweeting may or may not be impacted by the quality of the refreshments served. As it is a Monday, I respectfully stick to my allocated glass of white wine. Typing away frantically on my phone it would be easy to think I’m not paying any attention to the exhibition. Quite the opposite – a museum blogger thinks with their touch screen. I’ll be able to refer to thoughts sent out into the twitter-sphere later, when I write up my review in the next few days.
Terri: One of the best parts about running the blog as a pair is that we can divide and conquer our social calendar. This is particularly helpful when we receive invites for two different events in one evening. While Kristin was off at the NPG, I was taking up an invite from the team at Two Temple Place and getting some stimulus for a new article. To accompany their new exhibition: Discoveries: Art, Science and Exploration from the University of Cambridge Museums the historic house/gallery are hosting some fantastic events. This evening, Dr Ken McNamara Director of Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge argued that the museums founder – Woodward bequeathed one of the world’s most important historical geological collections. But like all early collectors John Woodward was a bit of a character, notoriously arrogant he could not understand the phenomenon of collecting curiosities. Instead he believed in a systematic approach of keeping a register with brief descriptions and numbering objects – the earliest example of a Museum Collecting Policy. If only all modern curators could be so organised…
Terri: And here’s one we prepared earlier- time to post Kristin’s review of ‘Sensing Spaces’ at the Royal Academy. We aim to post twice a week, usually one mid-week and one over the weekend. We each spend at least one night a week working on our blog posts and adding events and exhibitions to our calendars. Usually I set myself up at my 1950s kitchen table/desk with a cup of something and a bazillion scraps of notepaper ready to talk museums. The blog content is dominated by our aim to challenge preconceptions of those working in the industry and show the fun and stylish side of those working in London museums. With that in mind our website is often filled with comment pieces, light-hearted reviews or attempts to start twitter revolutions with hashtags like #museumhates #hipstermuseums. I’m responsible for updating the events listings on the site, going through each London museums event pages can often be a trawl – I try to list events that I would want to attend, so evening events for adults on weekdays and interesting walking tours and talks for the weekends. Running them off of a Google calendar means they are instantly updated, followers can import events to their own calendars and it’s easy to access on an iPhone.
Kristin: Come one come all: the Mighty Moustache, the Lion of London himself, has been resurrected at the Barts Pathology Museum for a night of spectacular feats of gentlemanly strength and valour! Surely every Wednesday night should be spent being whisked off your feet by a Victorian strongman surrounded by pots of picked people? No? Just us? This was the last in a series of amazing Valentine’s themed lectures hosted by the Barts Pathology Museum in Smithfields. We always love coming to events at Barts. Curator Carla Valentine always invites engaging speakers but also, since it’s not open to the public, events like this are the only chance you’ll get to see one of London’s hidden medical collections. But we cannot tell a lie, on this particular night we were motivated purely by the Lion of London bending metal bars and breaking out of manacles – all in the name of true love. There was also a slightly more academic talk by Dr Ellery Foutch of the Courtauld Institute on the first body builder: Victorian strongman Eugene Sandow and Victorian ideas of physical perfection. Conceptual ideas and physical illustration, all in one swoon-worthy evening.
Terri: We do have a life outside of museums, promise! But our love for all things museum-y means that we often drag along friends or partners to quirky events even on our ‘nights off’ from the Ministry. Museums are the perfect place for a date – we can often show-off our knowledge, there’s a continuous topic of conversation (the display of ethnography is my favourite rant) and there’s always a slice of cake waiting in the coffee shop. And if it’s going terribly at least you have something interesting to look at. Tonight was a double date for us at the Horniman Museum’s Taxidermy Late. With food vans, shadow puppet performances and live taxidermy (the art, not the animal) it seemed to be the place to be for all hip young south-east dwellers with beards. We spent most of our evening playing in the new Extremes exhibition. Sure it’s meant for families but… ice wall! Heat sensor! Green screen! Perfect for big kids too.
Terri: Our working week now ended, there’s just time for one final planning meeting before we escape to the weekend. We meet at our regular haunt (a fro-yo shop) to chat, scheme, and get down to the business of how we turn our whirlwind week into actual blogs. We discuss our posts for the coming week and bounce around ideas for future topics. The conversation gets heated as we discuss the museumification of the First World War – every museum seems to have a new exhibition coming out in the next year. But are we looking back in a way that’s critical and innovative, or are we glorifying the conflict? It’s not too long before planning fades quickly into industry gossip. Too much embargoed information to be included here, we’re afraid. One thing leads to another and by 7pm we are ready for a drink. We meet up our good friend from fantastic fringe open-mic night Museums Showoff for tapas and wine to celebrate the weekend and all things museum-y.
Kristin: On the weekend the work really begins. Notes from the week float around between texts, mobile apps, scraps of paper and tweets – all of which need to be turned into something interesting to read. Sunday evening tends to be our Ministry working time. Tucked away in a North London coffee shop, I spend a few hours writing up, editing, finding images and prepping everything in drafts just waiting to be posted. Despite our best attempts at planning in advance, Terri and I text constantly to check in and check up with what we are doing. Let’s not forget the administration work of keeping up with the Ministry email address – questions from fellow museum lovers, emails from press teams, and ever exciting collaboration ideas. The Ministry may be a lot of work, but we love what we do, and we do what we love. We’ll keep working away to bring you a taste of London’s museum life direct to your Twitter page – but don’t just take it from us, get out there and experience it for yourself!Back to top