Laughing Kookaburras and Preserved Fetuses

Thank god the Museum of Animal Perspectives exists to post videos of what it looks like to walk through the woods from the top of a wolf’s head. But actually, this one is pretty good: Laughing Kookaburras

Kookaburras on YouTubeIt was left out of the weirdest museums of the world, but I guess they did alright with the Burt Reynolds and Friends Museum of Florida: “The Museum: You may know him only as the star of Smokey and the Bandit, but residents of Jupiter, Florida, also know him as a generous contributor, establishing a number of theater-centric programs since purchasing a ranch here some 30 years ago. Volunteers run this not-for-profit museum, dedicated to preserving the legacy of “the Bandit.”
The Exhibits: Sure, there are keys to the 10 plus cities he’s received, notes from A-listers like Jack Lemmon and Elizabeth Taylor, and an impressive collection of sports memorabilia, but the pièce de résistance is the sleek black Firebird Trans Am the beer-smuggling Reynolds, a.k.a. Bo “Bandit” Darville, drove in the classic 1977 film, Smokey and the Bandit.”

Fetus models at Palazzo PoggiThe Poggi Palace in Bologna, Italy, stands out to me as one of the weirdest museum experiences in my life. I tragically lost my own photos of the place in a hard drive crash, but the memory of a recreated 18th century gynecologist office, with all of its tools, surrounded by models of the fetus through development, is vivid enough to sustain that loss.

The Palazzo Poggi was given to the Universita di Bologna in 1805 and became a sort of experimental laboratory of human development.  Research and experiments using technology reinvented the organization of the University’s curriculum.  These activities have been absorbed into the palace’s 15th century architecture, and as their website says, not just metaphorically, the building’s cultural activities in the 19th and 20th centuries created an irreversible ambiance.  It’s true, the eerie quality of the building contributes to the absurdity of its collection.

dancing skeletonsUnfortunately, I missed this exhibit of dancing fetuses, perhaps it is a new addition since Spring 2007.

Field Recorders’ Collective Recording Collective

This is a private/public synthersis we want to get behind–a collective (read: record label) providing access to private collections of old timey hill music and photographs, complete with digital mastering, and so forth. But maybe we spoke too soon…

They talk a smooth game:

…the Field Recorders’ Collective hopes to “democratize” these collections and see them form a public archive. This is opposed to seeing them disappear in the “black hole” of university and government archives which are, at best, difficult to gain entrance to or at worse, only for those with credentials for accessing them. We hope you will find the FRC releases an important addition to your traditional music library.

So, a “public” archive is created through private consumption, and public archives are strawmanned as inaccessible.

what not to write


We love cutie librarians as much as the next nerd, but this guy makes us embarrassed for our gender. See also!

Don’t get my wrong. I shindig till 2am, I tip my cap to random strangers, I do my very best to infuse the world with punchlines and good cheer. My social algorithms are cribbed from something a little more polysyllabic than Jugs and Barely Legal, and I’d like to think that I’ve passed the evolutionary watershed of ‘Ugg, me hungry.’

But damn is it hard to discuss quality books during happy hour.

To wit: I am a veteran dork of endearing proportions. I make obscure references to mixed, sometimes blank-faced results. I’m prone to grooving randomly to quality Elvis dance remixes. And I have this nasty, recurring habit of cruising half-price bookstore shelves like an old-skool leatherman cruising a bathhouse.

Tell me you can relate.

You are a girl whose below-the-equator bloodflow skyrockets at the sight of a textbook. You treat episodes of Jeopardy like a performance of Chippendales. You think knowledge is an aphrodesiac, like powdered rhino horn meets sun-kissed strawberry. You probably own a t-shirt that says, ‘Librarians do it in the stacks.’

We should discuss.

Why do bookworms get me hot? Because dumbasses get me ice cold. I love and lust after women whose brainpower could lay the smackdown on Deep Blue, whose thumb and forefinger callous from rampant dogears, whose personal libraries could pistolwhip an ox. If you’ve ever discombobulated a boy/girl in mid-coitus with a tangent about biotechnology, let me say two things:

A) That’s fucking hilarious, and B) You’re my kind of girl.

Honestly. I have friends with fetishes for everything from feet to blindness. Like somebody out there in the internet void doesn’t get all excited over the Dewey Decimal System?

The Game: Museum Edition

With all the pontificating and punditry these days about Peacocking and DHV amidst the triple-layered ironical viewing of The Pick Up Artist, Suggested Donation presents the following artifact for examination:

“Have you ever been to a museum on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon? Well you should check one out! Museum’s are jammed with chicks standing around looking at art. Girls…like art. It appeals to their fantasies. Maybe that’s why girls who hang out in museums are such perfect pick up targets…”

Via WFMU’s Beware the Blog:

Picking up Girls in a Museum, from Picking up Girls Made Easy!


Cultural Schlock Jocks

Look who’s hiring! The augustly named Resnicow Schroeder is a PR firm that offers services exclusively to cultural institutions, kind of like Suggested Donation! We’d try and lay it out for you, but let’s let them explain it. How many buzzwords can you count?

Our customized, integrated approach builds on each client’s core identity and effectively interprets and communicates those assets to a broad variety of constituents, from the media to audiences, donors, community leaders, and other stakeholders. We offer the expertise and resources of a large firm, while maintaining the flexibility and personal commitment of a small one, enabling us to work in close partnership with our clients to distinguish their voice in an often noisy cultural environment.

But don’t be put off by an opening paragraph that tries too hard. The next time your cultural or arts organization is hit by a Katrina of bad press, Resnicow Shroeder is there for you, with their FEMAesque Crisis Management services:

Crisis Management: Our integrated approach to crisis management stabilizes organizations internally while containing and reversing negative public relations.

We will say, they do have a hell of a client list.

supersize my smithsonian souvenirs!

Just listened to this report about how the Smithsonian hired the retail-oriented consultancy group BerglassGrayson to evaluate their gift shops. Unsurprisingly, the firm returned with blazing criticism, lambasting the museum stores for their under performance and inefficiency compared to, say, non-museum retailers like Urban Outfitters.

And when there’s money-a-wasted (on cultural/arts organizations) in Washington, you can expect the Republican members of Congress to follow:

Sen. Charles Grassley: Money’s fungible so a dollar wasted in the business venture is a dollar of money that’s going to have to be made up by the taxpayers.

This, from the same Senator who earmarked a bill to secure $50 million dollars of money for an indoor rain forest in his home state of Iowa, a project dreamed up by the Iowan industrialist (and Grassley donor) Ted Townsend one day as he ran on his treadmill.

Anyway, the next chapter of the conclusion of this story is that the Smithsonian is now accepting bids from private companies to run its stores.

Next up: Barnes and Noble claims that only they can “right the ship” of the woe-fully inefficient and unprofitable Library of Congress.


The Price of Freedom store at the Museum of American History.

edutainment round up: convergence, emergence, divergence, detergent.

button_edutainment.jpgAre museums little more than edutainers? Here are some interesting internet link things about museums and entercation.

Stephen Asma doesn’t live near an inner city bus stop, but he does write about edutainment and museums, in his cuddly-titled book,Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads: The Culture and Evolution of Natural History Museums.” Asma relates the story of a T. Rex named Sue, a glam-rock covers of Johnny Cash dinosaur exhibit at Chicago’s Field Museum.

Asma also examines the phenomenon of “edutainment” including the ways in which museums use spectacle and fantasy in order to illuminate and educate, how much of current museum offerings are driven by a quest for large visitation numbers and the question of the relationship between big business, politics and what we learn at any moment in history.

Less than fifteen percent of the Field Museum’s funding comes from admissions. In order to raise the $8 million to acquire T. rex Sue, the Field partnered with Disney World and McDonald’s. “To my mind,” Asma writes, “Sue represents the best and the worst of edutainment.”

We take pause to wonder how this is in any way the best of edutainment, but I guess we’ll just have to buy his book!!!~!!

Elsewhere in the edutainmentsphere:

 So grab the sphere of life and aim it /and you’ll be guided by Edutainment.


above: the edutainmentsphere in cube form

Imagineering an Interactive Experience

siniseOld news, but I just got back from Chicago, where I finally learned about CSI: The Experience (via its ubiquitous billboards and bus stop ads). This barf-tastic-looking exhibition, on view right now at Chicago’s venerable Museum of Science and Technology is an interactive space where daddy’s little career prosecutors “can play the role of crime scene investigator, learning scientific principles and real investigative techniques as you try to solve a crime scene mystery”. Sponsored by Diet Pepsi, the exhibition was designed by Bob Weis Design Island, the firm led by the dude who brought us The Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular!

Not to be a geezer about this, but didn’t we invent theme parks for things like this and the other Back to the Future: The Rides?

Not to mention the whole training-of-young-people-to-think-the-world-is-full-of-serial-killers thing and the promotion-of-the-unquestioning-veneration-of-law-enforcement thing.

Lil’ Crimestoppers