By: Meghan Mulkerin, Collections Specialist and Research Scientist Contractor
We participated in #AskACurator Day on Twitter on September 17, 2014. Did you miss the conversation? I created a Storify of each Curator's hour on Twitter, which you can read by clicking on the links at the end of this post. Enjoy!
Hey everyone! Thanks for participating with us in Ask A Curator Day on Twitter last week! Over 700 museums all around the world participated; wow! We had a great time answering your questions. All five curators who participated with us @ArchaeologyLab were new to Twitter, and enjoyed seeing how it worked. In order to facilitate the conversation without each one having to become an expert at Twitter, I sat with each curator during their hour and helped them craft their answers down to a "twitter-able" size. At the beginning a few expressed doubt that they would be able to get their answers into the right format, but by the end of the hour all of the curators were growing more confident and enjoying sharing their answers with you!
It was especially fun for me to have an hour to chat with them in person, even if I was busy transcribing the stories they were telling me! For example, while we were waiting for a question, I asked Sabrina Sholts how she had gotten tapped for such an interesting project as CT scanning a wet-specimen gorilla her first week here! It all happened because she came in during one snowy day when almost no one else was in (she moved here from Sweden and is from Minnesota; DC snow does not scare her!) only to find a fellow Scandinavian, Bruno Frohlich, also in the office. After I had written down her story while she talked, I showed her how we can break up stories like this into separate tweets, and tell a longer story live on Twitter.
Later in the afternoon with Dennis Stanford, I was laughing with delight as he detailed the complex partnerships that enabled him to pursue his research goals in an amazing experimental archaeology project. It involved butchering an elephant (Ginsberg died of natural causes at the Boston Zoo, and his body was donated to the Smithsonian) with only bone and stone tools, like our ancestors in the paleolithic would have done, to better understand wear patterns on ancient tools. It read like a joke: so an archaeologist, a NASA engineer, and an FBI ballistics analyst walk into a bar... Seriously amazing.
From Ives Goddard, I learned about his amazing work on the Meskwaki Dictionary (you can listen to him read a translation of a Meskwaki story here). During Igor Krupnik's hour, we all got to hear about his "wow" moment during fieldwork in the Arctic. Bill Billeck shared some interesting stories about the repatriation process and Sitting Bull. I could go on, but I will let you read for yourself; don't forget to click on the storify links for each Curator's hour below!
By the end of the day, I was exhausted. I had barely left my desk all day, and my fingers were getting clumsy on the keyboard, but it didn't matter. I had such a great time working to share these amazing people and their stories with you on Twitter. It is one of the reasons that I love working here, we have great people with fascinating passions that they love to share. We hope you enjoyed talking with us. Remember, here at the Smithsonian, every day is Ask a Curator Day. You can follow many of the scientists and departments here at NMNH on Twitter.
Read the Storifys of all the questions our Curators answered!