It feels like magic to work with others who are passionate about content. I didn’t always have a job where content mattered, where standards were important and upheld, where clarity was king. I used to work with artists when they were designing their first public exhibits. We would spend hours looking at mock-ups, testing load-bearing walls, reviewing fire codes. The resulting installations were spectacular, and also subject to interpretation. Bewildered visitors would desperately cast about for something, anything, to help them understand what the artwork meant. Then they would come upon the accompanying artist statement. They would read the statement, hands politely crossed behind their backs as they poured over the words. Then shrug.
More often than not, the artist’s accompanying statement, which we would dutifully post on the gallery wall near the front entrance, had been very last minute, thrown together at the eleventh hour, and fraught with meaningless phrases, jargon and incomplete thoughts.
Better not to read it.
Curators, educators, archivists, interpreters – working with all these specialists came later in my career. These were the specialists who helped bridge the work on display with the public, and they were critical to the institution. Along came you, Victoria. You championed online exhibits well before even these experts could see the value. Your experimentation with social media? Award winning. Your work mattered. It made a difference. It had impact and that impact could be measured.
Upon my retirement, I bequeath my collection of museum books to you, Victoria. Your passion for institutions that hold, preserve and protect our dearest natural and cultural artifacts remains intact, move after move. You know what works and what doesn’t, what is meaningful and what isn’t.
You will not drink the Koolaid. Not even if you’re parched.