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Funny, weird, odd, surreal, or annoying museum experiences
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kmt_sesh
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 1:06 am    Post subject: Funny, weird, odd, surreal, or annoying museum experiences Reply with quote

I thought it might be fun to share some experiences we've all had at museums, something that sticks out in your mind. It could be anything from the comical to the angering. And it could be about any museum and any exhibit within that museum (not just ancient Egypt), which is why I'm placing this thread in the General Discussion forum. Finally, it could be about something that happened to a friend or relative, not necessarily yourself.

At ED I've shared a number of stories I have about my own experiences at the Field, so I'll start with one I heard about this morning from a fellow docent. He's a new docent and his specialty is paleontology.

The docent was standing there by our T-rex named Sue after finishing a talk with a school group, when a woman and her little girl walked up to him. He held out a very realistic-looking mold of one of Sue's big nasty teeth and said to the girl, "Here, would you like to handle this?"

The girl smiled and reached out to take it, but with a look of shock on her face the mother grapsed her daughter's hand. "Is that a real dinosaur tooth?" the mother suspiciously asked the docent.

"Oh, no mam," said the docent. "The actual fossilized teeth are too delicate and valuable to handle, so we make molds of them like this one."

The mother nodded with satisfaction and said to her daughter, "Okay, sweetheart, you can see it...it's not covered with dinosaur germs."

Shocked

Dinosaur germs from a 65-million-year-old tooth? The docent wanted to say to her, "Mam, you're worried about dino germs when you just watched 20 snot-nosed 2nd graders handling this thing?"

But he just nodded and smiled.

Okay, does anyone else have an experience to relate? Very Happy
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anneke
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 2:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On a trip to Germany with my brother we visited Sans Souci Palace near Potsdam. This is a beautiful Palace with gardens. We were walking through the park when we say this man gently take the camera from his wive's hands and patiently say "No, turn it around this way, Dear".
She apparently had been taking close-ups of her own face up until this point Laughing

You can imagine my brother and I almost fell on the floor laughing....

A very interesting experience was a visit to the museum in Leiden. There was a wedding party there taking photographs throughout the museum!
There is a small temple from Taffeh in the lobby and that's where I first saw the happy couple being photographed.
A little later I saw them in the room where the statues of Maya and Meryt are displayed. They have a part of the chapel of Paatenemheb there, and to the side of it they had pillars from the temple tomb of Ptahmes (all New Kingdom and beautifully carved - and luckily covered in glass!)
The photographer actually had the groom leaning against the ancient pillars! I was a bit shocked needless to say Wink
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 3:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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The docent was standing there by our T-rex named Sue

I love Sue, I want to see her so badly. She is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton. Dinosaurs rock. Smile

Okay my museum experience that sticks out in my head is a little romantic. It was in grade 10, and we went on a class trip to the Royal Ontario Museum to see the Ancient Egyptian artifacts.

A guy in my class named Will really liked me but he wouldn't approach me and he was so cute! Later on while I was gazing at the mummy inside the glass I saw Will on the other side looking at me. So, I flashed him a flirty smile and he smiled back, then we got to talking about the mummy. I learned that he loved Egypt too, so we ended up spending the rest of the trip walking around the museum together admiring the beauty of ancient Egypt not saying much, but flirting in a subtle way, no doubt. He had brought his camera with him and he took a picture of me outside.

We were both pretty shy, so we never asked eachother out. And we didn't even talk to eachother at all after that. Very odd. I wonder if he still has the picture.

I no it's not that romantic, but keep in mind I was only 15, and very conservative. If only that lasted. Laughing
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 4:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

anneke wrote:
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She apparently had been taking close-ups of her own face up until this point


Oh my god, that's hilarious! Can you just imagine the slide show with the neighbors back home?

"Okay, here we are in Germany, and this is the shade of lipstick my wife was wearing that day. Rose-petal red, right, dear? And here the next day is a mosquito bite she got below her left eye..." Laughing

Quote:
The photographer actually had the groom leaning against the ancient pillars! I was a bit shocked needless to say


Grrr! The nerve some people have. And with this one you can picture the headlines in the newspaper the next day: "Newlywed couple arrested after toppling pillars at Leiden museum." :bad-words:

Those are perfect examples, anneke. Thanks for sharing! I'll bet you have dozens of stories from all the places you've been.

Daniella wrote:
Quote:
I no it's not that romantic, but keep in mind I was only 15, and very conservative. If only that lasted.


I think that's incredibly cute. Ahhh, teenage love. love8

I've never been to the Royal Ontario Museum, but I'll bet it's fabulous. Is that the premier museum in Canada? Where I grew up there was nothing like that. I would have been in heaven when I was a teenager had I been able to go to someplace like the Field Museum, let me tell you. The closest I can come to that is kissing my eighth-grade girlfriend on the ninth hole of our golf course--her birthday present.

She beat me that day. In golf, I mean.

So, whatever happened to ol' Will? Whatever it may be, you'll always have the Royal Ontario Museum. I'll bet he pines for you to this day, and whenever he goes there and gazes longingly upon that mummy, he sees you looking through the glass at him.

I haven't thought about my eighth-grade girlfriend in ages. You really bring out the nostalgic side in me!
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 4:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that the R.O.M. is the premier museum in Canada, it is in Toronto. I also enjoyed the dinosaur fossils there too.
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So, whatever happened to ol' Will?

Well, he asked to borrow my pencil crayons a couple of times. But other than that he ignored me at school because he had other girlfriends.
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I'll bet he pines for you to this day, and whenever he goes there and gazes longingly upon that mummy, he sees you looking through the glass at him.

LOL probably not. I was such a nerd in school, I didn't talk to anybody. I believe I was labelled as the hot nerdy freak. Laughing
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The main attraction in the museum was this statue of Menkaure and his queen:

How cool is that. I actually stood only four feet away from this, I barely could get myself to walk away.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Well, he asked to borrow my pencil crayons a couple of times. But other than that he ignored me at school because he had other girlfriends.


Are you so certain? When you weren't looking, I'll bet he tenderly kissed each crayon you loaned him.

Quote:
LOL probably not. I was such a nerd in school, I didn't talk to anybody. I believe I was labelled as the hot nerdy freak.


LOL I believe I dated a girl for a time in high school who could have fitted that description. We went to homecoming together. I can't even remember her name now, but she was very sweet and attractive.

Gosh, you've got to stop this. You're dragging out all these ancient memories in my head, and the gray matter up there is already filled to capacity! These old memories might be pushing out something I need to know. What if it's something I might need at the museum? I can see it now. A visitor asks me to tell her everything I know about pyramids, and all I can say is, "Pyramids are cool. They're pointy."

Quote:
The main attraction in the museum was this statue of Menkaure and his queen:


I had no idea that Menkaure statue was at the ROM. That's a very famous statue and one of the finest from the Old Kingdom. How wonderful it must have been to see it face to face, as it were.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Are you so certain? When you weren't looking, I'll bet he tenderly kissed each crayon you loaned him.

Ha! He wasn't a freak like you! Laughing
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How wonderful it must have been to see it face to face, as it were.

My teacher and I were the only ones just standing there staring at it, she was quite the Egyptophile herself...I liked her. Smile
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I just thought of another one that my coordinator, Bob, recently told me. With the Tut exhibit coming to our institution next May there's understandably a lot of talk about it these days, and Bob has worked at the Field Museum for over 30 years. Let me tell you, this man is a wealth of stories and he can keep you in stitches with some of the things he says.

In any case, Bob was there for the original Tut exhibit, in 1977. He was helping to supervise the enormous, seemingly endless lines of people itching to get in to see the exhibit, when he spotted a pair of elderly women who were gesturing to him to come over to them.

"Excuse me, sir," one of them said to him. "We were hoping you might be able to settle a dispute we've been having."

"Maybe," Bob said. "What's it about?"

"Well," said the same old woman, "we've been arguing over precisely where King Tut was buried."

Bob nodded and replied, "In the Valley of the Kings."

The woman turned to her friend, grinned ear to ear, and said to her, "See! I told you he wasn't buried in Egypt."

And this reminds me of yet another Tut episode from the 1977 exhibit. This was told to me by a fellow docent who was actually volunteering even back then. In fact, that Tut exhibit was her first experience in giving tours. She was working with a lot of school kids mostly of high school age and kept walking by a strange-looking man sitting cross-legged on the floor outside the exhibit, seemingly meditating. She walked by a short time later, and the man had removed his sandals and shirt.

That seemed odd, but she moved on. However, when she went by a little later with another group of kids for their tour, this man was now sitting there buck naked. He wasn't leering at the kids or even looking at anyone, but just sitting there nude, meditating quietly.

He wasn't so quiet anymore when security had to drag him out of the building. Shocked

I wonder if he'll be back for the new Tut exhibit?

And, no, it wasn't me, honest. I was only about 11 at the time and didn't even live in Chicago.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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My teacher and I were the only ones just standing there staring at it, she was quite the Egyptophile herself...I liked her.


Man, had I been standing there, I probably would have filled up my camera's memory card taking photos of that statue. I may just have to consider visiting this museum some time. Wink
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know I kicked myself in the ass for not bringing a camera. I don't know if Menkaure's still there though. I visited the ROM web site today and I didn't find anything on Egypt things that are there now, so I don't know.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Those are perfect examples, anneke. Thanks for sharing! I'll bet you have dozens of stories from all the places you've been.


Yes, your question is a pretty neat one. I have been thinking about some of the places I have been to.

After I got my PhD I travelled through Europe with a good friend of mine and there were several memorable experiences Very Happy

Near Rquefort in Belgium there was a villa dating back to Roman times. We were allowed to walk all over the site which really amazed me. Maybe it was not a real touristy attraction so they didn't have to worry about people traipsing through a 2000 year old site? That was a truely amazing experience though. You could see some of the heating equipment that was located underneath the house. My favorite part was the porch. You could actually sit in the exact same spot that these people would have sat in 200 years ago. Really made you feel connected to them.

Then a little further east but still in Belgium was this small old town where they had started to reconstruct a several hundred years old castle. This place was amazing. It had served as a lookout post over a valley. It was strategically placed so that a sentry posted on one of the watchtowers would be able to see anyone approaching the castle from many directions. This watchtower was one of the reconstructed areas and it provided a fantastic view over the valley. It was not very busy, so with no intrusions of busloads of people, you really got a good feel for the place.


In Florence we figured out that the museums were open several hours later than what all the tourbooks said. This was an amazing opportunity to visit the Musea Della Arte and be virtually the only person there. We were able to view Michelangelo's David without having any crowds around. There is a line of unfinished statues forming a path leading up to the statue of David, and I have to say that these statues are my absolute favorites. The human figures are only partially carved and it leaves you with the impression that these muscular human figures are trying to break themselves from this stone mold that is holding them. I stared at those for the longest time Smile

When we were in Paris we went to the Louvre and were accosted by gypsies outside the main entrance. I had met up with my brother, his wife and his daughter. My niece was eating an icecream cone, and the woman was trying to pull it out of her hands and was making a move to take a bite out of the icecream. I still think this was a ploy to distract us and while this was going on I think the plan was to pick our pockets.
We knew that some of these groups do these weird things to distract you so they can rob you, so all of us got up and made quite a commotion. We yelled at them and got them to back away. Soon we noticed that they were a group: husband wife and at least one child. But we managed to get them to back away from us and leave us alone.
This brother actually was the victim of one of these schemes in Madrid. He said he really felt stupid afterwards because there they approached him and were asking him to look at some coin. The amazing thing is that they took all his money out of his wallet as he was holding it in his hand Shocked
He said that he would never have thought that what they did was even remotely possible.

I will shut up for now Laughing See what happens if you get me going ?
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 8:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've not had any spectacular or bizarre things in the British Museum, but I'll tell you about the hardcore Biblical tour guide/nutter...

One day, I was at the British museum, and I was sketching a statue of Horus. (If my scanner worked, I could show you the sketch-I'm very proud of it!) Then this tour guide came over, and he was doing a 'Bible tour' and he started ranting about how the Egyptian gods were heathen false idols, and how 'God smited Egypt with the ten plagues' to free the Hebrew slaves, and said something along the lines of 'the plague of darkness was God's attack on Horus, god of light, showing how weak these false idols are against the one true god...' needless to say, I simply shrugged and ignored him. I don't think this guy was affiliated with the museum, but at least he did compliment my sketch!
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 11:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

anneke wrote:
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After I got my PhD I travelled through Europe with a good friend of mine and there were several memorable experiences


I love your stories. Goodness, the places you've been and seen! I'm very envious, you should know. And I know what you mean about sitting on that porch. There's just something visceral and tangible about that sort of experience, something that reaches out of the past and connects with you.

Okay, I'll stop the deep philosophizing now.

The gypsy experience must have been a tad upsetting. I think you're right that they were trying to pickpocket you. It's good you saw their ruse. It's also good they didn't kidnap you and make you their gypsy queen. Laughing I don't think it's the kind of life you'd enjoy.

Your story about Madrid reminded me of an experience one of docents had a few years ago in Italy. He was standing there waiting for a train and had set his briefcase on the bench next to him. Along came this very well-dressed, very handsome young man, the kind who is so good looking that you can't help but look. This handsome guy walked right by, flashed a charming, white-toothy smile, and kept walking. When our docent looked next to him, his briefcase was gone! Yep, the well-dressed, model-type young man had it in his hand and disappeared a moment later.

There's the lesson for you: beware of the handsome young Italian men!

By the way, it never even occurred to me that you were a PhD, but it makes perfect sense. So, then, why doesn't your signature begin with "Dr. Lady of the Two Lands who lives on Maat..."? Very Happy

isisinacrisis wrote:
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...and said something along the lines of 'the plague of darkness was God's attack on Horus, god of light, showing how weak these false idols are against the one true god...'


I like this story. You've shared it with me before. I can't say I've come across any religious types this extreme at the Field, though a few have come close. You could have mentioned that the Egyptian god of light, Re-Horakhty, existed long before the Jews ever settled on Yahweh as their one true god.

No, it's probably better you didn't. They might have snatched you, taken you to their church, and worked on you till you converted and shed your sinful ways. Surprised
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 28, 2005 11:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's a fresh one I can share that happened at the Field today. I was talking to a young family about the scarab beetle and its significance to the ancient Egyptians. I gave the usual speech: how the dung beetle lays its eggs in a ball of poo, the poo incubates the eggs, the larvae eat their way out...how the Egyptians veiwed this as magical creation and named the scarab kheper, "to create" or "to be created."

"So to the Egyptians," I finished, "it was a powerful symbol of transformation."

The husband nodded and remarked, "Yep, from poop to power."

Damn, did I laugh at that. I'm going to remember that one. Laughing
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