This year’s #AskACurator day—the annual social-media Q&A blitz—was not without controversy internationally.
One British Museum curator was called out for racism and an (admittedly humourous) debate erupted between a science museum and a natural history museum in the UK.
In Canada, the dialogue was quieter. But a few shortfalls, curiosities and treasures were nonetheless revealed.
On the political front, a question to the Canadian Museum of History revealed that its curators would have liked to expand more on arts and culture in its new hall—but couldn’t due to space constraints.
— Carmen (@cdnhistorybits) September 13, 2017
— Museum of History (@CanMusHistory) September 13, 2017
On a related note, the National Gallery of Canada revealed that only about two percent of its collection is on display at any given time:
Roughly 2%, which means between 1,200-1,400 items, but doesn't include the Origins collection of over 10,000, not all of which are fine art.
— Nat'l Gallery Canada (@NatGalleryCan) September 13, 2017
In the curios section, Ontario museum professional Fraser McDonald prompted a few international museums to share Canada-related works from their collections
The responses included a New Brunswick sketchbook at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and a stuffed walrus at Poole’s Horniman Museum:
— Rijksmuseum (@rijksmuseum) September 13, 2017
— Horniman Museum (@HornimanMuseum) September 13, 2017
Canadian tweeter Dan McKnight asked several international and domestic museums to share Canadian-related objects in their collections.
This yielded immigration-area photos from Detroit, a medal awarded to a First Nations fighter stored in London and (strangest of all) a box of tissues that once travelled with the Queen. (That last one is at the Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa.)
— Detroit Inst of Arts (@DIADetroit) September 13, 2017
— National Army Museum (@NAM_London) September 13, 2017
— The Postal Museum (@thepostalmuseum) September 13, 2017
Other than our deadlines? Box of tissue from a commercial flight the Queen took to Canada in 1970s. I mean it’s a box of tissue! pic.twitter.com/KdOwhF50NL
— Anna Adamek (@CuratorNatRes) September 13, 2017
And no curatorial foray on social media would be complete without consideration of ancient Canadian video game technology and a Roman nail clipper.
— #SciTechMuseum (@SciTechMuseum) September 13, 2017
— Alexandra Bauer (@QuiDocet_Discit) September 13, 2017
Not to mention a lasting collections-based mystery.
What’s the most mysterious object in your collection? #AskACurator
— Stefan Aguirre (@Railok) September 13, 2017
— Archives @ PAMA (@archivespama) September 13, 2017