I am a hyper-curious person, and curiosity is an important value in my life … as well as an important impact of museums.
But curiosity isn't limited to museums, and can be hard to sustain through adulthood. By sharing some of my curious paths through reading, I'm hoping to reinforce how important wide-ranging curiosity is to our practice and spark new conversations that may seem unrelated to museums, but deeply matter to how we do our work. After all, as museums we cover a variety of topics. Our curiosity should also be as omnivorous!
To that end, here's a new installment of some of my wide-ranging reads (mostly non-fiction) I hope to hear recommendations from you!
Treasure Palaces, edited by Maggie Fergusson
Twenty-four great writers, on museums. Pretty obvious must-read, I should think. These essays were originally published in Intelligent Life (now called 1834), a sister publication of The Economist. Includes meditations on connection, thought, objects, serendipity, sublimity, intimacy, and perception shifting (just to start). A lovely read.
Book: My Autobiography, by John Agard
Imagine if Book (yes, Book) could tell you its autobiography. From writing and clay tablets to ebooks (and everything in between), this book tells Book's story. Beautifully and cleverly written, learn why Book salutes Phoenicians, personally thanks Ts'ai Lun, and feels excited about "sitting on a passenger's lap and feeling my pages turned, and the pride rushing down my spine, as the steam engine puffed its way through the countryside of northern England" (train reading apparently a precursor of modern-day plane reading). If you love books, get Book!
Technology in the Country House, by Marilyn Palmer and Ian West
Confession: I love to geek out around old houses. I also realized, halfway through writing my master's thesis, that I was writing on the wrong topic. I should have done technological systems in 19th-century homes. So I LOVED this book. From plumbing to heating to central vacuum systems … it totally appeals to my interest in not only how people lived, but how they strove to make their homes more comfortable and efficient. And while this focuses on the grand country houses of the United Kingdom, it's not hard to extrapolate to how, say, electric lighting changed domestic spaces for people across the socio-economic spectrum.
Have a suggestion for my reading list? Email it to me at susie (at) wilkeningconsulting (dot) com.
I respectfully acknowledge that I live and work on the traditional lands of the Duwamish people. I thank them for the care of this land, and I endeavor to help museums bring forward a more complete and inclusive history and culture in their work.