Life as the textile expert at a regional history museum

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Fashion Lecture Ambush

This week I'm giving a new lecture at MOHAI, simply titled "Seattle Fashion History." This is not a public lecture, but one of the "Insights Presentations" offered to adult groups who visit the museum

When I was asked to prepare a talk as part of the new museum programming I was so excited. Telling the story of "Seattle Fashion History" is basically my life goal, so I viewed this as version 1.0 of a signature lecture that I would revise and improve over the years. 

The presentation hasn't been quite the hot seller I was hoping for, but a group finally booked it so now I get to unleash this fledgling magnum opus on the world. 

While I was working on it, I started to wonder about what this first group was expecting. How was it being messaged on their end? So I went to their website and pulled up the January events calendar. Here is the actual text of what it said: 

A docent will introduce you to a part of MOHAI and then you’ll have time on your own to explore the exhibits...Trip fee includes admission and docent tour. 

Crushed, I emailed my coworker who books the lectures. She investigated and confirmed that the person who booked the visit had a full understanding of what she was signing up for, but something had been lost in communication with the person who wrote the blurb. As my coworker reluctantly pointed out, sometimes people only hear "docent tour" when you describe any museum program. You can be like "The museum is having this event where you play board games and then there is a discussion about gorillas" and the person listening would still just hear "docent tour."

So basically I am going to give a lecture about clothing history to a group of totally unsuspecting people. 

It is going to be like:




(but please say nice things on the comment cards) 

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