Taking A Closer Look at the History of Christmas: A Public Historian’s Perspective

December 23, 2021

      As many people are preparing for celebrating Christmas, I decided to revisit and share the history of Christmas. I remember the first time I learned about the history of Christmas when I was still studying for my bachelor’s degree in history. My history professor assigned my class to read Stephen Nissenbaum’s The Battle for Christmas towards the end of my first semester of college and we had a class discussion about the origins and history of Christmas. I continued to observe Christmas from a historical perspective since that time many years ago. While I have previously discussed what museums are doing to observe the winter holidays including Christmas, I realized that I have not yet discussed where it came from, how we started celebrating the holiday, and how it became the holiday we know it now. Here I will share a brief introduction to Yule and what Christmas was like before the nineteenth century when things like Christmas trees, the concept of gift giving, and the idea of the family-centric holiday were becoming associated with Christmas.

     We understand today that Christmas is a winter celebration within Christianity to honor the birth of Jesus Christ. When we take a closer look, we would be able to see that the origins of the holiday were not as straightforward as the religion may teach. Christmas has its roots in Paganism which honors the changes in seasons. Yule is connected to a number of religious celebrations and spiritual traditions that coincide with the Winter Solstice which occurs on December 21st in the Northern Hemisphere. Last year I briefly shared information about Yule or the Winter Solstice. In that post, I described what the celebration of Yule is:

 Yule is a celebration, practiced by pagans, neo-pagans, and other individuals who incorporate witchcraft practice in their lives, which involves gathering together to enjoy meals and gift-giving, and activities like feasting and wassailing (where the tradition of singing carols comes from) are sometimes regarded as sacred.

 This celebration corresponds with the astrological change of the Earth tilting away from the sun, known as the Winter Solstice. The amount of sunlight on Earth during this time varies, short day and long night to long darkness, depending on which part of the globe one lives on. In the Northern Hemisphere, it also marks the first day of winter.

To learn more about the Yule, Christmas, and other Winter Holidays, I included the link to the blog post “Winter Holidays in 2020 and Happy New Year” in the list below.

         Christmas was a different holiday than what we would recognize today. During the colonial period in New England, the Puritans suppressed the holiday, and it was illegal to celebrate Christmas in Massachusetts between 1659 and 1681. Their reasoning for suppressing the holiday, according to Stephen Nissenbaum, was because there was no biblical or historical reason to place the birth of Jesus on December 25th; it was in the fourth century that the Church decided to observe Christmas on December 25th which happened to be around the arrival of the winter solstice. Another reason they suppressed Christmas was that at that time the holiday involved behavior that most today would consider as offensive and shocking such as rowdy public displays of excessive eating and drinking and aggressive begging with threats of doing harm. In northern agricultural societies, harvesting was finished in winter, and since they had plenty of beer or wine and meat that needed to be consumed before it spoiled.  It was not until the nineteenth century that Christmas started to resemble the holiday we recognize.

           Wage labor and capitalist production were spreading in England and the United States by the early nineteenth century.  Employers were insisting on keeping Christmas as business as usual while some urban workers saw the meaning of the season as one that no longer involved a lull in demand for labor and for other urban workers winter meant the prospect of being laid off since the water-powered factories were put on seasonal halt. The Christmas season could be easily seen as a form of social protest by the managers and the upper class since the traditions included wassailing (singing) and mischief. Stories like Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol and poems like Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit from St. Nicholas” started to introduce things including but not limited to the concept of generosity and the figure of Santa Claus that would become the traditions we know today. If you would like to read more about the history of Christmas, I recommend taking a look at Nissenbaum’s The Battle for Christmas and other resources provided. I will be taking a break from posting new blog posts; in the meantime, be sure to stay tuned for new blog posts in 2022.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!!

Links:

Winter Holidays in 2020 and Happy New Year

The Battle for Christmas: A Social and Cultural History of Our Most Cherished Holiday by Stephen Nissenbaum

Encyclopedia Britannica: Christmas

English Heritage History of Christmas

National Geographic How Christmas has evolved over centuries

Virtual Historic Site Impressions: Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

December 16, 2021

Thank you to all of those who responded to the poll I released a few weeks ago. The site with the most votes was the Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland. I plan to write about the other sites in the future and I released another poll to ask all of you which one you want to read about next. In the meantime, I will share with you all my experience visiting this Scottish castle.

    Edinburgh Castle is one of the oldest fortified places in Europe and was used as a royal residence, military garrison, prison, and a fortress. Parts of it remain in military use while the rest of it is now a popular world-wide visitor attraction.

    When I made a virtual visit to the Edinburgh Castle, I was surprised to discover that it was more than one large castle; there were also a chapel, a whiskey shop, tea rooms, et. cetera.  Before I even entered the castle, I was already impressed with the architecture and the details that were on and inside. I decided to do a general walk around the castle with no specific plan and share some of the highlights from my visit.

         I made my virtual walk around the area and noticed a small chapel known as St. Margaret’s Chapel. St. Margaret Chapel was named for Queen Margaret who was later made a saint. When Queen Margaret died in 1093, the chapel was built in her honor by her son, King David I. It is Edinburgh’s oldest building. St Margaret’s Chapel still hosts weddings and christenings today. Close to the chapel is the Portcullis Gate.

St. Margaret’s Chapel (oldest building in the castle)

     Portcullis Gate was built almost 450 years ago in the wake of the devastating Lang Siege that took place in 1571 when supporters of Queen Mary held the castle against the rule of the regent the Earl of Lennox (who supported the then infant King James VI). The Gate was erected by the Regent Morton in 1574.  The building contains a long-vaulted trance, once furnished with two outer double doors, a portcullis and an inner double door that once sat alongside the iron gate to ward off intruders. The top floor, Argyle Tower, was added in the 1880s.

Portcullis Gate

        During my visit, I came across The Redcoat Café which offers a variety of things to eat and drink including but not limited to soups, roasts, toasted deli sandwiches, beer, wine, spirits, hot beverages, and soft drinks. I also went by the Tea Rooms located at the top of the castle in the Crown Square; they offer traditional afternoon tea as well as light lunch (soup, salad, sandwiches), cakes, hot cocoa, coffee, spirits, wine, beer, and ale. Next to St. Margaret’s Chapel is the Whisky Shop where visitors can purchase whisky that was created in collaboration with the award-winning Edinburgh Gin distillery. They have a huge range of whiskies including their exclusive Edinburgh Castle 10-year-old single malt, and sweet and savory treats including traditional shortbread, whisky fudge, and cakes.  In addition to exploring the castle on my own, I also visited Edinburgh Castle’s website to learn more about it.

The Redcoat Café

        Edinburgh Castle was built upon a rock for a military strategic advantage during the Iron Age, and their defenses evolved over hundreds of years. For instance, Mons Meg, one of the greatest medieval cannons ever made, was given to King James II in 1457. The Half Moon Battery, which was built in the aftermath of the Lang Siege of 1573, was armed for 200 years by bronze guns known as the Seven Sisters. Six more guns defend the Argyle Battery, with its open outlook to the north.

          In addition to serving as a military fort, Edinburgh Castle was also a royal residence. The Great Hall, that was completed in 1511 for King James IV, hosted grand banquets and state events. But the king had little time to enjoy his new addition. James IV died at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, fighting English forces sent by his brother-in-law, King Henry VIII of England. According to their website, they pointed out that above the door to the Royal Palace are the gilded initials MAH – for Mary Queen of Scots and her second husband Henry Stewart, Lord Darnley. Mary gave birth to James VI in the Royal Palace in 1566 who would become king of Scotland at 13 months old and united the crowns of Scotland and England in 1603. After the ‘Union of the Crowns’ of 1603, Edinburgh Castle was rarely visited by the reigning monarch, but from the 1650s it grew into a significant military base. Defenses were rebuilt and enhanced in response to the Jacobite Risings of 1689–1746. New gun batteries such as Dury’s Battery were constructed and new barracks such as the Queen Anne Building were added to house the many soldiers and officers. To learn more about Edinburgh Castle, I included a list of resources below.            

       Their website includes a number of resources to help people plan their visit, COVID restrictions, the history of the castle, et. cetera. I appreciate that they have a list of suggested itineraries based on interest and the amount of time one has to visit Edinburgh Castle. I would like to someday visit the castle in person as well, and in the meantime, I will make numerous virtual trips to keep exploring the many places within the castle.

The second poll to choose the next historic site is active. To decide which historic site you want to learn more about, click on the link here: https://wp.me/p8J8yQ-1xi

I’m on Buy Me a Coffee. If you like my work, you can buy me a coffee and share your thoughts.  More information about additional benefits for supporting my work can be found here: https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/buy-me-a-coffee-page/

Links:

Edinburgh Castle website: https://www.edinburghcastle.scot/

Edinburgh Castle Virtual Tour with Us blog post: https://blog.edinburghcastle.scot/virtual-tour-with-us/

Virtual Edinburgh Castle: https://www.google.com/maps/@55.9485358,-3.1984482,3a,75y,272.57h,110.04t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sK8bujNmtCtGOcDq8H1KZng!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

https://canmore.org.uk/site/52093/edinburgh-castle-portcullis-gate-and-argyle-tower

http://www.edinburgh-history.co.uk/lang-siege.html

Poll: What is the Second Historic Site You Would Like to Read About?

December 9, 2021

In the first poll, the one with the most votes was Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. My experience with the virtual visit will come out next week so stay tuned. In the meantime, please choose the next historic site you would want to learn more about.

*as of January 31, 2022, the poll is closed. Stay tuned for the post on the second historic site chosen by this poll.

Website Examination: Museum Learning Hub

December 2, 2021

Museum Learning Hub homepage

I chose to take a closer look at a website that focuses on professional development for museum professionals. Museum Learning Hub is a website I follow to help me develop skills as a museum professional. According to their website, it is a nationwide initiative organized by the six U.S. regional museum associations and is dedicated to providing free, self-paced training resources for small museums made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grant for Museums Award. I appreciate that they are able to provide these resources for free since most small museums do not have a professional development budget for their employees; therefore, providing more accessible resources can help museum professionals especially those who work in small museums develop their skills to perform their tasks in their museums. The Hub is created as part of the Digital Empowerment for Small Museums Project, which focuses on providing capacity-building programs and resources in the areas of digital media and technology for small museums.

I like how it is easy to navigate through the website to access webinars and additional resources. The toolkits, that are included in each module, provide more details from individual sessions and resources to help museum professionals learn more about a specific topic covered in the session. The website also includes forums and Ask an Expert forum in which users can click on the forum name to see the discussions, get advice, share ideas and resources, and get technical support from student technology fellows. Some of the topics that are covered in their webinars include but are not limited to digital accessibility and inclusion, live streaming, managing digitization projects, virtual exhibitions, podcasts, video production, and audiences and analytics for museums. They release webinars each week live on their website and have past recordings and transcripts available to catch up on topics discussed in previous weeks.

To learn more about the website and to participate in webinars, check out the link below.

Link:

Museum Learning Hub

What is Witchcraft? Taking a Closer Look at the History of Witchcraft

November 11, 2021

          Since we recently celebrated Halloween, I thought I would share a short introduction to the history of witchcraft. When we talk about witchcraft, the first things that come to mind are movies and T.V. shows that depict witchcraft, Halloween decorations and costumes, the Salem Witch Trials, et. cetera. It is important to acknowledge that witchcraft history can be found around the world not just in Europe and Colonial New England. Witchcraft looks different for each culture, and therefore not one definition describes what is witchcraft. There are many definitions of witchcraft and witches used by historians in the past and now. Ronald Hutton in his book The Witch: A History of Fear from Ancient Times to the Present shared a number of definitions past historians have shared. For instance, Hutton stated that a witch is “…any person who uses magic (although those who employ it for beneficial purposes are often popularly distinguished as ‘good’ or ‘white’ witches); or as the practitioner of a particular kind of nature-based Pagan religion…”. He wrote this book as a contribution towards the understanding of the beliefs concerning witchcraft, and the resulting notorious trials of alleged witches, in early modern Europe. Hutton’s The Witch also described witchcraft history found outside of the United States and Europe. I will go into more depth about witchcraft history in future blog posts, and if there is something you would like to know more about, please let me know. In the meantime, I will introduce the history of witchcraft on Long Island.

While one of the most well-known witchcraft cases took place in Salem, Massachusetts, there have been witch trials in New York and even one that was decades before the Salem Witch Trials. In 1658, a woman named Elizabeth “Goody” Garlick in East Hampton, New York was accused of witchcraft but was spared the same fate accused people faced in Salem. After the East Hampton magistrates collected the evidence, they decided to refer the case to the higher courts in Hartford, Connecticut (Long Island was four years shy from becoming a part of the Connecticut colony at the time; it was not until 1664 when it became a part of New York colony). While witchcraft was a capital offense at the time, John Winthrop, Jr.’s court rendered a non-guilty verdict for Goody Garlick. John Winthrop, Jr., the son of the co-founder of the Massachusetts Bay colony, was made the Governor of the Hartford colony and was one of the few people that were skeptical of magic particularly common people having the capabilities to practice magic; part of his skepticism was inspired by his background as a scholar whose research pursued finding explanations for magical forces influencing the world around them. In addition to learning about witchcraft in New York, I also previously did some research on modern witchcraft history and the pagan origins of Halloween.

Some witches and pagans (or Neo-Pagans) celebrate Samhain (“saah-win”), an ancient Gaelic festival that marks the time of year when seasons change, and many believe the boundary between the world and the world of the dead is at its thinnest. Samhain is known to be Halloween’s earliest root.  Early celebrations of Samhain involved a lot of ritualistic ceremonies to connect to spirits including celebrating in costumes (using animal skins) as a disguise themselves against ghosts, special feasts, built bonfires and made lanterns by hollowing out gourds. To learn more about the history of Halloween, I wrote about Halloween’s origins in the post “The History of Halloween and How Museums Celebrate” and I have included it in the links section below.

I included more links about witchcraft on Long Island if you would like to read more about this part of history. If you want to read more blog posts about witchcraft history, please let me know.

Links:

The History of Halloween and How Museums Celebrate

Hutton, Ronald. The Witch: A History of Fear, From Ancient Times to the Present, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2017.

https://history.hanover.edu/texts/nyhah.html

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/before-salem-there-was-the-not-so-wicked-witch-of-the-hamptons-95603019/

http://bklyn-genealogy-info.stevemorse.org/LI/WitchesofLongIsland.html

https://bronx.news12.com/beyond-the-broomstick-witches-on-long-island-36714763

13 Things to Do in Museums for Halloween 2021

October 14, 2021

It has been over a year since the pandemic and because Halloween is coming up soon, I was curious to find out what museums are doing to celebrate this year. I did some research, and there were some museums that have in-person, virtual, and hybrid events going on either leading up to the holiday or near the holiday. While I only listed thirteen of them, there are more museum Halloween events out there. If you come across other ones, please share in the comments or contact me via email or social media.

The list is in no particular order, and it is only a small sample of museums from around the country. Their websites will have their own COVID-19 policies listed.

  1. New York State Museum, New York, Halloween Spooktacular Online

http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/programs/halloween-spooktacular

This virtual event can be found on this page, and activities that can be done at home are shown through pre-recorded videos. Some of the events include storytelling, craft demos, science, and a close-up look at the Museum’s costume collections.

2. Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, New York, Fall Festival: Festive Days/Haunted Nights

https://www.vanderbiltmuseum.org/featured-events/

Each weekend starting on October 15th and ending on October 31st, visitors have the option to attend the Fall Festival during the day and at night. Tickets are currently on sale. Festive Days are $20 for kids and $24 for adults (museum members get a 50% discount). Haunted Nights are $10 for non-members and $5 for members, and kids are welcome.

The Festive Days, 12-4pm, include but not limited to admission to the museum, mini-golf, face painting, Halloween games, and a scavenger hunt. Haunted Nights, 6-10pm, have a Haunted Maze and a 9-hole mini golf course.

3. Fairfield Museum and History Center, Connecticut, Halloween on the Green

https://www.fairfieldhistory.org/programs-events/halloween-on-the-green-2021/

Fairfield Museum’s free family event includes but is not limited to trick-or-treating, a costume parade, tours of the historic buildings, art-making activities, a bounce house, and food trucks. This event takes place on Sunday, October 24th from 12 to 4pm.

4. Marbles Kids Museum, North Carolina, Kooky Spooky

https://www.marbleskidsmuseum.org/KookySpooky

Tickets are currently on sale for a family-friendly after-hours costume party on Friday October 29th from 6 to 8:30pm (members are $15 per person and non-members are $18 per person). Museum’s activities and a dance party are included.

5. Hagley, Delaware, Halloween at Hagley

https://www.hagley.org/calendar/halloween-hagley

There are outdoor activities planned for visitors on Saturday October 30th from 10am to 4pm. Some of the activities include ghost hunting in their garden and making a jack-o-lantern pouch to stash some goodies. Children are encouraged to come in costume and visit the treat stations throughout the surroundings of the historic house and garden. Also, there are costume parades they can participate in (11:30am and 1:30pm).

6. Bowers Museum, California, Virtual Public Tour- Halloween’s History, Horror and Humor 10.31.2021

https://www.bowers.org/index.php/programs/event/3007-virtual-public-tour-halloween-tours-unsolved-mysteries-at-the-bowers-museum-10-31-2021

Even if you are not located in California, you can still participate in this museum’s Halloween festivities. The tour is of the Historic Wing and the history of Halloween highlights mysteries surrounding the Bowers’ oldest artifacts. It also includes a story about the ghostly presence in the museum’s original building that dates back to 1936.  Tickets are $10 for non-members and $5 for members, and the proceeds go towards the museum’s Museum Education Programs. Once tickets are purchased, a private link will be sent to view the online presentation prior to the tour.

7. Madison Children’s Museum, Wisconsin, Upcoming Events for October 2021

https://madisonchildrensmuseum.org/events/

Check out the list of events they have coming up for October including Baby’s First Halloween Week, Music on the Rooftop with Junebug, Beakers & Broomsticks Week, and Happy Halloween Week.

8. Crocker Art Museum, California, Monster Mash

https://www.crockerart.org/event/2764/2021-10-30

The Monster Mash, on Saturday, October 30th, is an event for families to come in costume and participate in a performance they say is full of amazement and artistic inspiration. After the performance, families are able to explore the galleries with a Halloween-inspired scavenger hunt, take a festive family portrait, and discover a magical surprise or two. Every child’s ticket includes an interactive gift bag full of non-edible treats.

9. Omaha Children’s Museum, Nebraska, Trick or Treat Days https://ocm.org/events/trick-or-treat-nights/

This museum has specific days, October 15th and 22nd, families can come in throughout the day dressed in costume, engage with the exhibits, and gather treats in a physically distanced space. The museum has extended their hours on those specific days to make families feel comfortable coming into the museum without crowds.

10. Heritage Museums & Gardens, Massachusetts, Sandwich Halloween Festival

https://heritagemuseumsandgardens.org/mecevents/sandwich-halloween-festival/

The Sandwich Halloween Festival, on October 22nd and October 23rd from 4:30pm to 8pm, has activities that include but are not limited to scavenger hunt, Creepy Science Labs, fire pits with story time, carousel rides, Glow-in-the-Dark & Carnival Games, face/hand painting, haunted maze, and fortune tellers. It is $5 per person and children 2 and under are free. Entry ends at 6:00pm. More information can be found in the link.

11. Hiller Aviation Museum, California, Halloween Haunted Hangar 2021 https://www.smccvb.com/event/halloween-haunted-hangar-2021-at-hiller-aviation-museum/7563/

Visitors can come in costume to explore the museum’s gallery in Halloween décor and participate in the “Great Pumpkin” scavenger hunt. It takes place on October 23rd and 24th, and October 30th and October 31st.

12. Bay Area Discovery Museum, California, Goblin Jamboree https://bayareadiscoverymuseum.org/visit/goblin-jamboree

This is a week-long Halloween celebration filled with activities and delightful frights. It starts on Saturday, October 23rd and ends on Sunday, October 31st, but the museum is closed on Monday and Tuesday. Tickets are on sale for $25 and $20 for members, and are valid for the 2.5 hours timeslot you reserve when you buy your tickets. There are two options to choose from to purchase tickets: Goblin Jamboree and Goblin Jamboree Breakfast.

13. Children’s Museum Houston, Texas, Grosstopia

https://www.cmhouston.org/news/halloween-grosstopia-2021

According to their site, it is an “ooey, gooey celebration of all things creepy and crawly” family program that lasts for 3 weeks from October 12th to October 30th. There is daily trick-or-treating, meeting friendly characters, watch chilling performances, and perform science experiments by making creepy concoctions in mad science workshops. Some of the days have specific themes and activities, and more updates may be made on the website.

Happy Halloween Month!!

My Thoughts on a Coming Soon Museum: Museum of Broadway

October 7, 2021

        I found out a little while ago that a new museum is coming to New York City next year called the Museum of Broadway. Broadway World made an announcement stating the Museum of Broadway will open in the summer of 2022. It surprised me that there has not been a museum focused on the history of Broadway before now. During the past few years I have lived in New York, I attended some Broadway shows in these historic theaters and had wondered about the history of the theater as well as the history of Broadway in general. I am glad to hear that there will be a new museum dedicated to Broadway’s history. I have loved both history and musicals for as long as I can remember, and I would be interested to see what they do with the history of Broadway.

According to Broadway World, the interactive and immersive experience the Museum of Broadway, founded by entrepreneur and four-time Tony Award nominated producer Julie Boardman and Diane Nicoletti (founder of the award-winning experiential agency Rubik Marketing), offers guests a unique look at the rich history of Broadway, a sneak peek behind-the-scenes, and a change to personally engage with the “Game-Changing” shows that redefined Broadway forever. They also provided a brief description of what the experience would be like when it is open to the public. In their article, they stated that

At the heart of the experience, guests will travel through a visual history of Broadway from its birth to the present day highlighting theater’s pioneers, landmark moments of social change, and many of the most beloved plays and musicals of all time. Key points along the timeline will focus on the pivotal shows that transformed the landscape of Broadway, through immersive installations designed by leading contemporary visual artists and acclaimed Broadway designers. Fans will also go backstage to get a taste of “The Making of a Broadway Show,” with a special exhibit honoring the community of brilliantly talented professionals – both onstage and off – who bring Broadway plays and musicals to life every night.

It sounds like it would be a fun experience as well as an educational one. As a museum educational professional, I do wonder what their educational side of their museum operations would be like. When I visited their website, there was no mention of what they plan for school programs. I could see the programs focused on history and music including looking at the historical context of musicals.

I look forward to finding out more as it gets closer to opening day. What do you think of this new museum?

Links:

https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Museum-of-Broadway-Will-Open-in-Times-Square-in-Summer-2022-20210816

https://www.themuseumofbroadway.com/

Looking for your Next Podcast to Listen to? Check out this List of Podcasts on Museums and Public History

September 16, 2021

        In recent years, I started listening to more podcasts and I decided to share a list of podcasts about museums and public history on this website I have either been familiar with over the years as a museum professional, come across for this post, or have been shared with me to share on this website. Keep in mind that this is not a complete list, and that they are in no particular order. If there are ones that you do not see on this list and think they should be on this list, please contact me and let me know.

The following are podcasts discussing museums and what is going on in the museum field:

  1. Museopunks

Every month, Suse Anderson investigates the fascinating work and personalities in and around the museum sector. The hosts explore some of the sector’s most stimulating questions, institutions, and practices, with a focus on emergent, boundary-pushing work and ideas.

2. For Arts’ Sake

For Arts’ Sake podcast help people discover the difference museums can make to their lives by sharing real-life stories of leading museum professionals and professionals within the heritage sector across the UK.

3. Museums in Strange Places

Hannah Hethmon is the host of this podcast and in each episode they visit a different museum to discover its stories, discuss challenges and triumphs with fascinating museum professionals (and volunteers), and get to know each season’s country, state, or region through it museums.

4. Museum Confidential

Museum Confidential is a behind-the-scenes look at museums hosted by Jeff Martin. The show is a co-production of Philbrook Museum of Art and Public Radio Tulsa. There are new episodes every two weeks.

5. Museum People

Museum People is a NEMA-produced (New England Museum Association) podcast that celebrates individuals connected with the museum field by highlighting their work, passions, opinions, and personalities. In each episode, you’ll hear stories and viewpoints from a variety of museum people, from unsung workers to executive directors, volunteers to trustees, as they help change the world one visitor at a time.

6. Queering the Museum

Queering the Museum is an ongoing coordinated intervention into representations of LGBT/Q* people in museums. Their goal is for QTM to facilitate critical dialogues between community members and museum practitioners, addressing the role that museums play in forming social norms around gender and sexuality. They focus on museums due to their ability to shape and define the communities in which we live. QTM believes that museums have a responsibility to account for the role played in constructing normalized ideas of race, gender, and sexuality.

The following are podcasts discussing various topics in history and about public history:

  1. HistoryExtra

HistoryExtra, the official website for BBC History Magazine and BBC History Revealed, has podcast episodes featuring interviews with notable historians on topics spanning ancient history through to recent British to American history. Episodes feature perspectives on everything from crusading knights to Tudor monarchs and the D-Day landings.

2. Malcolm Gladwell Revisionist History

Revisionist History is Malcolm Gladwell’s journey through the overlooked and the misunderstood. Every episode re-examines something from the past — an event, a person, an idea, even a song — and asks whether we got it right the first time. Because sometimes the past deserves a second chance.

3. American Revolution Podcast

American Revolution Podcast is a weekly podcast that explores the events of the American Revolution, from beginning to end. They also have a blog that posts pictures, maps, and links to more information for each week’s episode. The link to the blog can be found here: https://blog.amrevpodcast.com

4. Ben Franklin’s World

Hosted by Liz Covert, this podcast is for people who love history and want to know more about the early American past.

5. A History of the World in 100 Objects

In this podcast, the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, narrates 100 programs that retell humanity’s history through the objects we have made.

6. BackStory

BackStory is a weekly public podcast hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly, and Joanne Freeman. They are based in Charlottesville, Va. at Virginia Humanities. Each week BackStory takes a topic that people are talking about and explores it through the lens of American history. Through stories, interviews, and conversations with our listeners, BackStory makes history engaging and fun.

7. National Leprechaun Museum’s Talking Stories  

Talking Stories is a podcast of stories, folklore, mythology, and chat from the Storytellers at the National Leprechaun Museum, on the 1st and 15th of every month. The National Leprechaun Museum is the first ever attraction dedicated to Irish mythology, and it opens up a fun and magical world full of fascinating folklore, mythology, and enchanting stories.

Visit the Contacts page and let me know if there are other podcasts that I should check out that are not on this list.

I’m on Buy Me a Coffee. If you like my work, you can buy me a coffee and share your thoughts.  More information about additional benefits for supporting my work can be found here: https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/buy-me-a-coffee-page/

POLL Results are In

September 15, 2021

Thank you to all who have responded to the previous poll! Here are the results from the two polls:

In the first poll, I wanted to learn from you what places have you been to in-person and/or virtually in the past few years to get an idea of where you all have been.

Poll results for places visited in the past few years

It seems that there are many of you who have visited museums the most followed by zoos and historic sites. In the second poll, I wanted to know what you would be most interested in reading about in a first poll supported blog post on this site.

Poll results for what readers like you want me to write about

Since Zoos and Historic Sites tied in the polls, I will release another poll for the tie breaker to see which one will I write about first. Stay tuned!

How to Remember 9/11: List of Things Museums Are Doing to Commemorate the 20th Anniversary

September 9, 2021

It has been 20 years since the attack on the World Trade Center, and I am still wrapping my head around that fact because I remember where I was when it happened and learning about the many lives that were lost that day. I wrote about my experience in a separate previous post that can be found below.  To figure out how to commemorate the 20th anniversary, I did some research to pull together a list of what museums are doing and what they are encouraging visitors to do to plan their own commemoration. The following is the list from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum and the Museum of the City of New York:

9/11 Memorial & Museum

  1. Tribute in Light

Tribute in Light is a commemorative public art installation that was first presented six months after 9/11 and then every year thereafter, from dusk to dawn, on the night of September 11. Over the years, it has become an iconic symbol that both honors those killed and celebrates the unbreakable spirit of New York.

2. 20th Anniversary Commemoration

In the annual commemoration ceremony, family members of 9/11 victims will gather on the Memorial plaza to read aloud the names of those killed in the 9/11 attacks and in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

3. The Never Forget Fund

The Never Forget Fund was set up to support the 9/11 Memorial & Museum’s efforts to ensure future generations never forget the lessons of 9/11.Twenty years after the attacks that changed our world forever, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum serves as a reminder that in the face of adversity and unfathomable loss of life, our capacity for hope and potential for resilience will see us through.

4. 9/11 Memorial & Museum Anniversary in the School Webinar

Teachers and other educators have the opportunity to incorporate the lessons about the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center by participating in an early access to the webinar, and having students watch the webinar and interact with the museum educators through a live chat on a virtual platform to learn about the attacks. Pre- and Post-Webinar activities are available to download. Learn more by clicking on the page here: https://www.911memorial.org/learn/students-and-teachers/anniversary-schools-webinar

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum have also compiled a list of ways one can plan their own observance. Below are the elements the Museum suggests considering when planning a 9/11 anniversary observance, and more details are available on their website.

  1. Observe Moments of Silence

Observe a moment of silence on September 11 at any or all of the times marking key moments on 9/11. Every year, the moments below are observed as part of the official 9/11 anniversary commemoration ceremony held at the World Trade Center for victims’ families.

2. Community Commemoration Assets

To help fulfill its mission never to forget, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum is happy to provide media assets for your September 11 commemoration ceremony or event. Whether organizing a remembrance ceremony for your town, your workplace, or your community, you can complete the form below to receive access to archival or present-day Memorial photographs.

3. Toll Bells

Toll bells on September 11 at 8:46 a.m. or at each of the times the attacks occurred that morning.

4. Read the Names of the Victims Aloud

The names of the men, women, and children killed as a result of the 9/11 attacks have been read aloud at the official 9/11 anniversary commemoration in New York City every year. This list of names inscribed on the 9/11 Memorial includes all those killed in the 9/11 attacks and the six individuals killed in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

5. Lower Flags in Remembrance

Lower flags to half-staff on the anniversary of 9/11. Flags may be lowered at 8:46 a.m. to mark the moment when Flight 11 struck the North Tower.

More information is available on the 20th anniversary page of the Museum’s website.

Museum of the City of New York

  1. Twenty Years Later: Remembering 9/11 Through Documentary Film

MCNY is offering an opportunity to watch the documentary about remembering 9/11 twenty years after it happened. Click on the link to learn more: https://www.mcny.org/event/twenty-years-later-remembering-911-through-documentary-film

Links:

Remembering 9/11: 18 years later

Plan Your Own Observance

9/11 Memorial & Museum Twenty Years Later