Life as the textile expert at a regional history museum

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Dressed for the Sea

I've been having blog writer's block because I don't feel like anything BIG has been happening lately. I haven't made any new discoveries about John Doyle Bishop, no new bug nightmares have occurred at work, and I haven't fallen in love with any new shows or movies. It is sort of like when a friend who has recently gotten married or started a new job or had a baby is like "What's new with you!?!?!" and the only appropriate response is "nothing." Because you can't follow "My body just produced this tiny human!" with "I tried out this new brunch place. It was ok."

But that doesn't mean that life is bad. John Doyle Bishop is still magical to me, it is a blessing that there haven't been any new bug crises, and I love watching movie/tv favorites for the umpteenth time. I mean, why watch something new when Strictly Ballroom is quite possibly the perfect movie?


Mostly, stuff has just been chugging along, being great. Our big 2015 effort to reorganize and improve the shoe storage is well underway. I'm totally digging our new database. The big vacuuming project from last year is nearly done and all my volunteers are rocking at their new projects. Last week we had an all-staff retreat and it was actually pretty productive. 

Ooh wait! I do have a story about that one!

Before the retreat we were asked to submit a photo of an artifact "that reflects you but that others might not immediately associate with you." Assuming that this would be used for some sort of icebreaker guessing game, I was beside myself trying to comply with that last part. Any garment or accessory I picked was going to be a dead giveaway, ESPECIALLY if I picked something in storage that no one else knew about. Over lunch, us collections and library staff started coming up with the silliest possible options. Could we pick a mirror? What about the creepiest artifact photos in the database? That broken doll that is just a jumble of parts? What about that box that is full of random pieces of wood? That weird 1950s toy that looks like an elephant eating a baby?

Collections staff! Are you not taking this seriously!?!?!

I ended up picking one of our ship's figureheads-- the male one. I picked it for several reasons. One: I remember seeing it on display at MOHAI when I was a kid, long before I knew I was into museums or history. Two: I like artifacts with weird hidden stories. It is unusual to have a male figurehead on a ship, and this one was made to represent its owner. He originally had a beard, and when the ship changed hands, the new owner (who only wore a mustache) had him "shaved" by carving away the beard. 

And Three: Since I am one of the few people in Seattle who doesn't love camping and hiking and kayaking in the great outdoors I appreciate this guy's style. He is strapped to the front of a boat but he still took the time to dress up. I feel that. He is my spirit figurehead. 

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