"Geez. #AskACurator has my head spinning today. Anyone who thinks that museums are static and analog should check out that hashtag!" This excellent Tweet came from Jane Hanna out of Chicago (@JaneHannaSays) after witnessing some of the over 26,000+ Tweets that went out with the hashtag #AskACurator last Wednesday, and I think it's a great way to sum up the day.
On September 18, 2013, The Canadian Canoe Museum participated in #AskaCurator Day on Twitter alongside 622 museums in 37 countries. We invited our Curator, Jeremy Ward to answer some questions from the Twitterverse.
Our Museum crew had a blast hearing from the Twitterverse and looking at our collection in some new ways. Although we didn't answer what would happen if there was a zombie invasion, included below are a selection of the questions and conversations from Ask A Curator Day.
What's the most unusual object in your collection?
Good question. The Mandan Bull Boat. This is an example of a buffalo hide boat by the Mandan Nation of the Upper Missouri River. Although this type of boat is quite scarce, at one time is was commonly used by various peoples of the American plains as well as into southern Alberta. Mandans are small, light and can be carried long distances on your back. As you can imagine with the boat being made from buffalo hide, there is a bit of a smell that comes along with this unique piece.
Here's another picture of the Mandan Bull boat in use (note: not our Mandan boat).
Do you have any canoes or items that are related to summer camp in any way?
Yes we do! In fact, a number of our canoes came from camps and much of our collection came from a private museum at Camp Kandalore. Today, the Museum offers a fantastic series of paddling programs for both children and adults. You can check them out here.
If there was a fire and you could save just one object, what would it be?
Tough question. Jeremy said that on a personal level this changes almost every day for him. Today the Gwich'in canoe. Very rare. The bead work is exquisite and demonstrates excellent workmanship.
What's the best part of the job? (As someone who is considering this field).
Unlimited access to the collection. Trying to get inside the head of the item maker or user. Exciting people with the collection.
What exhibition have you always wanted to curate but never had the chance?
We've always wanted to curate an exhibit on the use of canoes in advertising. You'd be surprised how often they show up. Let us know what you find. Maybe you can help us to build this exhibit one day...
How does the Museum ensure respectful care & treatment of Native American cultural objects? Do you have relationships with tribes?
Great question. We have direct participation from several Native elders, & annual collections care ceremonies (praying, smudging).
One final note on Ask A Curator Day from Cartwright Fine Art (@LakeGeorgeArt) "There's a Canadian Canoe Museum?!! Slap-to-Forehead! Duh, [Follow]
#AskACurator comes through big!"
Yes, there most definitely is a Canadian Canoe Museum (in Peterborough Ontario)! We had a great time answering your questions on #AskACurator day, but you don't need to wait for next year's Ask a Curator Day (September 17, 2014) to have your questions answered. You can reach out to us anytime on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, canoemuseum.ca, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We love to hear from you!
And about that zombie invasion question, we'll get back to you...