Life as the textile expert at a regional history museum

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Today we had an all staff meeting where the main topic was GRAND OPENING which is now a mere MONTH away. We got multiple explanatory handouts, printed spreadsheets of daily assignments, and early reminders about taking breaks and eating so we don't pass out. As stressful as it sounds I'm looking forward to it. The only serious bad news was confirmation that the V.I.P. opening is cocktail attire rather than black tie as I was previously told. Ugh. Now I have to re-think my whole dressing concept for the night.

We also got an update on press coverage, and it was announced that our director, creative director, and historian have been co-named on a Seattle Magazine list of the most influential people of 2012.  We all applauded but then the director cut in with "Well, actually we are just stand-ins representing the whole MOHAI team. So really it is the whole team that made the list--that means you!" Aw. Thanks Leonard. Now I can proudly say that it was implied that I was part of a group of people who made a list of the most influential Seattle people of 2012.

Speaking of teams, here is a previously untapped font of historical delight I just discovered: old photos of sports teams. I was searching for some photos of athletic clothing in MOHAI's online photo database, and started coming across images like this:

Ice Hockey Team for the University of Washington, c. 1921. PEMCO Webster  & Stevens Collection,  MOHAI
All I'm saying is that if the NHL made pomade hair mandatory and switched from oversized polyester jerseys to tight, long sleeve, black shirts, then maybe that is a sport I would watch.

University of Washington Football Team, c. 1903. William Jennings "Wee" Coyle Photograph Collection, MOHAI
I don't even know where to start with this. Very awkward guy with the substantial wavy hair in the middle row? Pop-out-the-hip model poser on the upper right? Those weird things around their necks? Some comment about padded, pillowy thighs?

And my absolute favorite: 

Crescent Manufacturing Company Bowling Team, c. 1923. Crescent Manufacturing Collection, MOHAI
How nerdily dapper is this crew? Can you read their sweaters? Crescent was a local spice manufacturing company, and their most famous product was a maple flavor substitute called Mapleine. The team was called "The Mapleines" and they were the Commercial Bowling League Champions of 1922-1923. I realize these are grown men who probably had very complex lives and personalities but all I have to say is ADORABLE. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Spot the Mennonite

Here is a crazy bit of trivia I learned this week:

Rap artist Kanye West and fashion designer Mark Fast
One of the people in this photograph was raised Mennonite and went to Bible College with a second cousin of mine. GUESS WHICH.

Ok, so you can probably guess. Every Mennonite knows that the last name "Fast" is a total giveaway.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

This Week In Anxiety Dreams

So I had another work-related anxiety dream this week. I was doing a last minute check of this kimono that is going on exhibit and I saw something that looked like bug evidence...and then another thing that could be bug evidence...and then something that was definitely a dead bug...then something larva shaped that moved when I poked it...then an adult bug that was definitely moving...and O GOD THIS WHOLE THING IS CRAWLING WITH BUGS.

First off, I'd like to pause for a moment and bask in what a ridiculous museum-specific nightmare that is. Only someone who has weekly discussions about integrated pest management has crap like that show up in her subconscious.

But second, for all my talk about how stressful things are at the museum right now, I don't really feel riddled with anxiety on a constant basis. Not every day is stressful, and I'm pretty good at unwinding in the evening. My roommate and I spend most nights enjoying the trashiest, most mindless shows that Hulu and Netflix have to offer. When I woke up from the bug dream I was sort of like, "Really, brain? I give you RuPaul's Drag Race and Say Yes to the Dress to work with, and you create a pest-based nightmare instead of some mash-up where drag queens go shopping for wedding dresses?!"

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Grand Opening

This week I had my first anxiety dream about MOHAI's grand opening.

Oh, wait, first I should probably do this:


Ok, back to your regularly scheduled blog programming. 

On Thursday we were reminded that we have 30 working days left before the Grand Opening, assuming we don't start working weekends. That night I had a dream that I was working at the Armory and everything looked about as done as it is now: plastic and masonite protecting the floors, empty cases, and painters tape everywhere. I looked outside and saw that people were lining up already for the opening. I was about to send them away, but then someone explained to me that we were opening in 5 hours. I started to panic, but everyone else was shockingly calm and almost chastised me for being so irrational. "Well," they shrugged, "We still have five hours," as if that was somehow a generous amount of time. 

It isn't all stress at MOHAI these days. On Wednesday my department pulled off a pretty awesome Halloween prank in which we all dressed up as one of the guys on the move crew. Bask in the sheer glee emanating from this photograph: 

Honoree "Hollywood Hair" Jeff is in the center, being a good sport about the fact that we bought ratty $10 wigs to represent his defining feature.