11 questions to a museum blogger for #museumweek

Twitter has provided some great opportunities for sharing blogs, photos and other interesting content relating to museums. If you’re interested in museums, from either a personal or professional perspective, you should definitely try using twitter.

This week is #MuseumWeek, which provides me with an excellent and relevant excuse for being tardy in responding to Jack Shoulder’s 11 questions to me, which he shared last week on #MuseumBlogs day.

1. Who are you and what do you like about blogging?

I’m Paolo Viscardi, curator, bonegeek and staunch advocate of museums and science. Blogging for me is something that I don’t really enjoy doing, but I really enjoy the outcomes, when I feel like I’ve shared information, ideas and some of the good bits of my amazing job.


2. What is the most popular post on your blog?

Last year I published a post called Atacama ‘alien’ mystery is no mystery, which wasn’t directly about museums, although they do get a mention. It’s had around 45000 views so far, with almost 14000 of those on the day it was posted. There have been 136 comments, not counting the offensive or trolling ones I deleted. It was a controversial post in that it challenged some very odd ideas, that some conspiracy theorists seemed to take quite seriously, without applying much critical thought.

3. And which post on your blog did you have the most fun writing?

Back in 2011 there was a lot of hype about a prediction of the Rapture (the ascent to Heaven in advance of the end of the world) by evangelical Christian Harold Camping. I had a lot of fun writing the post Jesus disappointed by Rapture flop, which took the position that the Rapture had actually  happened and only one person ascended, who wasn’t even a Christian. Since most of my posts are observational or factual it made a nice change of pace and gave me a chance to play with ideas.

4. If you could go behind the scenes of any museum, which one would it be and why?

Most of my museum experiences involve going behind the scenes. I rarely go to see exhibitions and I’m usually visiting other museums in order to meet other curators, or to do some research. I’ve not yet been to the West Coast of America, but if I ever make it over there I’d love to get behind the scenes at the Page Museum at Rancho La Brea to take a look at some of the amazing fossil mammal material they have in their collections.

Smilodon at the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits. Image by Dallas Krentzel

Smilodon at the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits. Image by Dallas Krentzel

5. If you could interview anyone, anyone at all, for your blog, who would you talk to and what would be the first question you ask them?

I’m interested in observing the physical world and trying to understand it, so I’ve never considered doing interviews. I suppose I could interview other scientists, but I’m not really a natural people-person and I would struggle to know what to ask!

6. What is your earliest museum memory?

This is a question I’ve (sort of) answered for Meet a Museum Blogger on Museum Minute a while back, so I’ll repeat that here:

“Seeing the door into the Palaeontology department at the Natural History Museum in London (the one next to the Megatherium specimen) is one of the clearest memories from my childhood – it was at that point I realized there must be people working behind the scenes in museums and that I could be one of them.”

Megatherium at London NHM. Image by Ballista

Megatherium at London NHM. Image by Ballista

7. What was the last museum you visited what did you see?

Apart from the Horniman, which I visit every week day for work, the last museum I visited was the Città della Scienza (Naples Science Centre) at the start of March. That was a scouting trip for a potential temporary Dinosaur exhibition for the Horniman. I was impressed by the museum’s tenacity in the face of outright criminal assault, following an arson attack a year ago to the day of my visit, that razed the main museum site to the ground

8. Share a museum selfie?

I hate taking selfies, but since they’ve become so popular I was persuaded to take one with the Horniman Walrus – just awful…

selfie with walrus

Since then I’ve taken a lot of selfies, and thankfully I’ve managed to look a bit less smug in those…

9. If time and money were not an issue, which museum in the world would you most like to visit?

As someone with a soft spot for Smilodon it would have to be the Page Museum!

10. Which museum do you think more people should know about?

The Horniman is a pretty small museum that does some pretty big things, but I know that outside the museum sector we’re not as well known as we could be. That said, I love the Grant Museum of Zoology at UCL and the Natural History Museum in Dublin – two of my favourite places that shockingly few people seem to know about!

I do think that all museums deserve to be known about though, which is why I’ve been working hard with colleagues at the Natural Sciences Collections Association (NatSCA) and a variety of partner organisations (like the NHM and Linnean Society) to get a better idea of what museums are out there that hold natural science collections. At the moment the project is in its early days, but we’ve developed a crowdsourced map of UK natural history collections that you can see – and add to – on the NatSCA collections pages.

11. What’s the oddest search term that has led people to your blog?

“Rat poo”. It’s a surprisingly common search term too, with almost 400 people finding the site through some variation on that theme. I suppose that’s what happens if you show people pictures of rat poo though…


On that somewhat unsavoury note I will pass on the baton to some more museum bloggers:

Here are my questions for Jake, Claire and Russell:

1. Who are you and what do you blog about?
2. Why do you blog about museums?
3. And which post on your blog was the hardest to write?
4. Which is your favourite museum?
5. Do you think you’ll still be interested in museums in 20 years time?
6. What is your earliest museum memory?
7. What was the last museum you visited and what did you see?
8. Share a museum selfie?
9. If you could build a museum, what kind would it be?
10. What is the most popular post on your blog?
11. What’s the oddest search term that has led people to your blog?

And here’s what you have to do:

Answer the eleven questions – you can adapt them a little to fit your blog.

Include the BEST BLOG image in your post, and link back to the person who nominated you (that would be me, or this blog post).

Devise eleven new questions – or feel free to keep any of these ones here if you like them – and pass them on to how ever many bloggers you would like to.

7 thoughts on “11 questions to a museum blogger for #museumweek

  1. Pingback: 11 Questions to a Museum Blogger | Wunderkammer

  2. Pingback: 11 questions to a museum blogger for #museumweek | The Diary of a Natural History Trainee Curator

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