curate my rack

Boring and historically de-contextualized wall labels be no more! Museum 2.0 is here, synergistically harvesting public insight in a folksonomical moblog of tag clouds for museum objects and artificacts. It’s, “the first experiment in social tagging for museum art collections.”

Here is another awesome Steve who lives on the web.

We snark, but SD kinda likes this project, although we hope their populist naming scheme wasn’t inspired by Microsoft Bob. And a +1 for the dot-museum suffix. May it never leave beta.


your glossy pamphlet supports terr’ism

What happens to a catalogue when its museum is blown to bits? It becomes a price guide for thieves! Now you too can own your own rare edition of this necessary black market guide, the 1974 Afghanistan National Museum catalogue.

Over the past twenty-five years, the Kabul Museum has been bombed, burned, and looted. Published in 1974, this catalogue remains the definitive record of the Museum prior to these indignities. Many of the objects depicted in the book are now lost to the art world – either destroyed, or illegally in the secretive hands of cultural poachers and private collectors around the world. The author herself has recently acknowledged that this sadly has become a veritable shopping guide for international art thieves.


nixonian nixon library handed over to federal starchivists

nixon.jpgIn what must be considered a loss for fair and balanced reporting everywhere, the no-longer private Nixon library is now in the gloved hands of do-gooder federal archivists, who will set the record straight on the 18 1/2 minute “mechanical malfunction” that caused that pesky silence on the white house tapes, and the markedly objective accusations of a “coup” perpetrated by Woodward and Bernstein.

The library’s former historical approach was one of subject-based mimicry, adopting an interpretative style akin to that of Nixon himself. As Nixon scholar David Greenberg said:

“It’s the opposite of truth. There was a lot along those lines in the library, which was not a matter of interpretation, but was flat wrong, a lie.”

update: the gray lady discovers the desk set

22595847.jpgThe New York Times, like white people, is always discovering things. First it was Philadelphia: Sixth Borough. Then it was East Williamsburg: Not Just Industrial Bushwick Anymore. Then came Fixies: Zen and the Art of 1:1 Gear Ratio Maintenance. And now: lookee lookee lookee at the most emailed article of the day, as the day-late and dollar-more NYTimes rolls out of bed with its own take on the fabled hipster librarian.

SD tipster Chip Curson CC’d us on his letter to the editor:

Dear Editor,

The article by Kara Jesella about hipster librarians in new york was typically cheesy and even grammatically incorrect (what is a “coffee shop purveyor” anyway?)… the idea that people with pink hair might also be serious about their career is only “news” to yuppies who think that banking or the medical profession are the only symbol of serious, satisfying work. also, jesella’s writing style is laughable enough to be a blog post, but i guess if she wants to give sloppy blowjobs to people who have vodka drinks AND read (gasp!!) and get paid by the times then she is very lucky. also if you want to connect parker posey and greenpoint in some godawful, nytimes-way to be really cool then i think you are super lame.

please forward her this email. i look forward to her response


chip curson,

can’t beat surreal thing

The V&A–which purports itself to be the “world’s greatest art and design Museum,” whatever, Britain–has a new exhibition called “Surreal Things.” In case you needed some disambiguation, “things” refers to designed objects. We’re sure they are very “nice.”

Even though surreal design is somewhat of a contradiction in terms, they do have a rare Dali piece:

Salvador Dali: Guard Your Grill and Knuckle Up.

an up-and-coming occupation

Lookee what just appeared in my daily New York Sun news alert e-digest for news items tagged “hipster librarians”:

Williamsburg is known for cool bistros and trendy hangouts, but few realize that the neighborhood and its environs are a magnet for hip, young librarians. Although “hip” is not an adjective generally associated with librarians, a stack of archivists, publishers, illustrators, librarians, and other bibliophiles called the Desk Set is out to challenge their image as staid.

seven-naked-librarians.jpgThe article goes on to describe one night of fire in which the Desk Set descended on Enid’s in Greenpoint for a raucous evening of rousing cupcakes, waiting in line for beer, and mutually assured self-satisfaction.

Look at me, acting like I wasn’t even paraphrased and all.


Suggested Donation was shocked today when a google search provided zero results for the term “starchivist.”

We’re here to change all that.

starchivist (n.) – The Frank Gehry of the information and library sciences field. An iconoclastic and eccentric archivist whose strange but brilliant archiving practices and devastating good looks have propelled her beyond the realm of mere information scientist. Fame and hate status resides somewhere between Paris Hilton and Barry Bonds. Lit., a “star archivist.”

below: #1 google image search result for “best archivist.”


a visit to the shrink: totem and taboo

ripley3heads.jpgRumor has it the American Museum of Natural History still has a shrunken head or two buried deep in the bowels of its collection. Doc Bwana, however, would rather leave fancy words like “repatriation” and “postcolonialism” to the academics in their ivory towers. His online shrunken head museum harbors no such guilt.

And didn’t you know?

Shrunken heads are popular display items in museums, school rooms, and shopping malls everywhere.

the museum that keeps on giving…us things to write about

Our old friends at the Smithsonian are up to it again, this time “toning down” an exhibit on global warming in the arctic to interject some good ol’ fashioned “both sides of the story” “objectivity.”

Among other things, the script, or official text, of last year’s exhibit was rewritten to minimize and inject more uncertainty into the relationship between global warming and humans.

Officials omitted scientists’ interpretation of some research and let visitors draw their own conclusions from the data, he said. In addition, graphs were altered “to show that global warming could go either way,”

The exhibit is hilariously titled “Arctic: A Friend Acting Strangely.” You know, like your friends who act really weird when you shit in their mouths and spit phlegm balls in their eyes and break their air-conditioners so they have to sleep in the sweltering heat. God what is wrong with those friends why are they acting so bizarre and melting and stuff?

The introductory text is positively giddy with regard to this strange–and exciting!–change. Golly gee!

Earlier spring thaws! Later fall freeze-ups! Greater storm impacts! Reduced sea ice! Unfamiliar species of plants and animals! What do these changes mean for the Arctic, its wildlife, its people—and for the rest of the planet?

Luckily for the Smithsonian, it taint the first time, neither. In 2003, photographs of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge were relocated to a less prominent space in the institution in the midst of the congressional oil drilling debate.


Well…on the non-sexy, non-neo-cyber-goth side of Second Life, they are apparently building virtual museums. Neal Stephenson could have warned us about this.

From a paper given at the Museums and the Web 2007 conference:

Exploratorium staff members have created… a space in the massively multi-user, three-dimensional world of Second Life. In the virtual museum called the ‘Splo, we’ve been experimenting with the social, contextual, and educational possibilities of a world in which people can fly through the solar system, scan their own bodies, and change gravity so they can bounce off walls.

Wait, wait, think of the fund-raising and naming opportunities!

if it ain’t burke, don’t fix it: get your chubby little fingers out of there

More from Potomac swamp country–Lawrence “I’m really not *that*” Small joins the aforementioned Sheila Burke in the conflict of interest scandal at the Smithsonian. Small and Burke both sat on the board of directors at Chubb Insurance Group during their time at the Smith’, and, what do you know, switched their venerable institution over to Chubb in what must have been an independent and lowest-bid scenario. For Small’s part, he’s collected $4.8 million from Chubb since 2000; Burke also netted over a million and was AWOL from her post at the ‘Sonian over 25% of the time.

The Smithsonian’s stated mission is “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Small and Burke, you learned us good.