“Please Don’t Eat the Pictures!”: museum etiquette demystified

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The 1983 Sesame Street TV special explains why you shouldn’t eat art (imdb.com)

When I was little, Sesame Street aired a special called “Don’t Eat the Pictures: Sesame Street at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.” I adored it. For those who didn’t watch the VHS tape on repeat, the gang go to the Met and accidentally get locked inside for the night. The story focuses on Big Bird helping the spirit of an Egyptian boy to reunite with his parents. Meanwhile, Cookie Monster is struggling with his desire to eat all of the paintings depicting food. But Bob points to the sign that says “Please don’t eat the pictures!” 

Digesting the art is an obvious “no”, however, sometimes it seems like museums say “no” to things without a reason. I promise we’re not trying to dampen anyone’s fun. These rules are designed to protect both the collection and people.    Read more

Wants his money back! (duh)

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The benefits of technology are far reaching, as expressed in an experience with a couple from Hampton, Va. who were visiting the museum for the first time!  (can you believe it?)   I said, “let me show you the treasure that exists in your own “back yard”.  I gave them the usual 3 minute greeting and an overview of the museum via our new innovative slide presentation.  Which, if you have not experienced it, is a brief docent manually controlled slide showing several views highlighting features of the galleries of the museum.  After I had finished this greeting and slide presentation, the gentleman said “may I get my money back?”  With astonishment, I remarked “why would you want that?”  He said.”well, I feel like that we have just had a TOUR OF THE MUSEUM”, His request for a refund was in jest, of course.  Naturally, I was pleased with the acceptance and reception by this greeting delivery.

Once again, the joys of being a docent continue with each passing day.

Visitor Experience – The Library of Congress

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I recently had the pleasure of greeting ladies from The Library of Congress, (Juretta, Susan, & Kris) who were in town for the Virginia Forum at Christopher Newport University.  They had  been to The Mariners’ Museum on Thursday for a meeting and dinner and had time for a small sampling of the treasures of the museum. They decided it would be a good opportunity for a further look.  They were especially interested in The Monitor Center, and I was pleased to provide them with a few of the in-depth aspects of the center and the historic Battle of Hampton Roads.  I also gave them a view of our new and innovative slide-show highlighting the other galleries.  What a joy to have real scholars who are interested in what the museum has to offer.  I expect to see them on a return visit in the future.