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It’s all change as ‘Ask a Curator’ becomes Ask a Museum

Ask a Curator Day started in 2010 in an effort to harness Twitter’s networking power to drum up some direct engagement with curators across the globe. The idea was that a curious public would be able to question the keepers of cultural heritage about the objects in their care and what it is they do with them.

The event became an instant hit with museums around the world fielding questions from their audiences, and trended number one on Twitter worldwide.

Over the past decade the event has grown from being something that just takes place on Twitter to also encompass Instagram, YouTube and Facebook.

Ask a Museum

This year the event will take place under a new name, Ask a Museum to better reflect the multitude of museum workers responsible for our treasured cultural institutions. We’re hoping that museums around the globe will once again get their staff to answer questions from the public.

Any Museum, Gallery or Heritage site can get involved with Ask a Museum. But if you don’t fit into one of those categories, you’re still welcome to participate. In previous years we’ve had questions answered by people working in Zoos, Aquariums, Libraries and more.

With the new name, we’d encourage all museum workers to get involved and share their work.

From New Zealand to Hawaii, Ask a Museum spans the globe with cultural and heritage organisations answering questions from members of the public. How your institution gets involved is very much up to you. Many run Ask a Museum on Twitter asking their followers to send them questions, others prefer to participate on Facebook or Instagram.

Some people will send you questions directly, but you can also search the hashtag #AskaMuseum for questions anyone can answer. How your institution participates is up to you.

Some questions from previous years include:

What does your typical day look like?
What’s the weirdest object in your collection?
What do you love about your job?
What’s your favourite object?
Have you ever broken an object What’s your most valuable object?
What’s your oldest object?
How have you done your job during the pandemic?
If you could add any object to your collection, what would it be?
Which artist alive or dead, who would you like to meet?
Who is your favourite artist?
Who is your favourite scientist?
Who is your favourite figure from history?
Is your museum haunted?
How do you get a job in a museum?
What is your museum doing to diversity your collection?
What’s a surprising fact about your museum?
What’s your favourite museum to visit other than your own?
Do you collect anything yourself?
What’s the difference between a curator and a conservator?
What’s on a Curators playlist?
How can I get my art in a museum?
What’s in a curators bag?
Which object would you like to see come to life?
What item would you most like to take home and why?
Do you have any cats in your collection?
If you could only save one object from a fire, what would it be?
Why are museums important?
What’s your largest object?
If you could live at any time, what year would you choose?
What’s the role of a museum in 2020?
What’s the strangest thing to ever happen in your museum?
Why did you become a curator?
What part of your job has surprised you?
Which object would you use to explain humanity to Aliens?
Got any advice for someone who wants to become a curator?
How are you making your museum relevant to young people?

This should give you some idea of the broad range of questions that you can expect from Ask a Museum.

The event takes place on September 14th, but you can get started now by letting your followers / fans know that you intend to participate and by booking time in with those best placed to answer questions. You can download graphics to promote your participation on the Ask a Museum website.

You might want to prepare some content before 14th Sept, for example you could ask some of your team to film answers to some of the questions above.

About the author – Jim Richardson

Jim Richardson is the founder of MuseumNext. He has worked with the museum sector on digital and innovation projects for more than twenty years and now spends his time championing best practice through MuseumNext.

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