Once a week, I spend several hours roving around the American History museum. I provide basic visitor services (orientation, education, and accessibility assistance). I absorb knowledge of exhibits and artifacts and, in general, tidbits of history. I interact with folks from across the globe. Yeah, I know where all the restrooms and cafes are (some things really are universal). But I also know where to find a pair of Dorothy’s ruby slippers, John Coltrane’s saxophone, and Edison’s light bulbs. And, just in case anyone were to ask, I also know where to find a cod in a coffin and a presidential voodoo doll.
Wandering around a museum – even if it’s the same museum week after week – never gets old. But having tasks makes it all the more fun. I’m on a hunt. I lurk through exhibits to learn where things are. I chat up docents and surf through research resources looking for interesting facts. I also keep an eye out for the oddities that hide in dusty corners.
Like this guy.
I mean, a cod in a coffin?? Yup, you’ll find that in the Smithsonian’s NMAH. It was made by an out-of-work cod fisherman and sold at flea markets in response to Canada’s ban on cod fishing back in the ’90s (bet that guy never guessed it would end up in a world-famous museum).
I might not ever stumble upon a black bear wandering these halls (it’s not Yosemite or the Natural History Museum), but who knows what I will find…