Jenni Fuchs is a thirty-something museologist currently living in Berlin with her husband and two-year old son, known online as #MuseumBaby as he has already visited over 30 different museums in five different countries. She may be German by birth, but she’s Scottish at heart, having previously spent more than half her life in Edinburgh. Jenni is a self confessed museum geek – even attending a museum conference in the middle of her honeymoon – and her particular passions include discovering museum curiosities and hidden gems, championing family friendly museums which #MuseumBaby often assists her in testing out, and scouting out great museum cafes.
I currently work for the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin (National Museums in Berlin), which is a conglomerate of 19 museums and four institutes. I manage their social media and am assisting with the relaunch of their website. I’ve only been in the job less than a year though. Previously I worked at National Museums Scotland for almost eight years, in the areas of museum education, audience research and social media. In my spare time I run Museum140, which is an independent initiative that aims to bring together museums and museum lovers from around the world through fun and engaging social media projects.
What’s your educational background?
My undergraduate degree was an MA in Scottish Ethnology and English Language from the University of Edinburgh. Originally I was going to follow up with a PGCE and become a primary school teacher, but then a summer internship at the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage changed everything. I came home, tore up my application to the teachers training college, and applied to the University of Leicester instead where I then went to do an MA in Museum Studies. Later on, when I was already working at National Museums Scotland, I also completed a Certificate in Contemporary Science through the Open University’s distance learning programme, just for the love of learning.
What was your ‘sticky’ moment?
I think I probably have two ‘sticky’ moments. One is a scene I vividly remember from when I was about 10 years old. I was running a temperature and my mum wanted to keep me at home, but I begged her to let me go to school because I absolutely did not want to miss the trip to the National Museum of Scotland! The other was that summer at the Smithsonian I just mentioned. Ironically, I applied to go not because it was about museums, but because I’d never been to the USA and the internship came with free accommodation and travel arranged through my university. Then I arrived there and though “Wow,THIS is what I want to do!”. Well, the rest, as they say, is history.
What is the name of your blog? How long have you been blogging?
My blog is called Museum Diary and it’s been going since September 2009.
What do you blog about? Why?
My blog originally started out when I ended up reporting from a museum conference in Iceland (in the middle of my honeymoon, no less) for some colleagues who had not been able to attend, but it has since evolved. I decided there were already plenty of blogs from peers dealing with current museum topics and issues, and realised what I really wanted to do was ‘bring museums to the masses’. My mission in life is to dispel the preconceptions many people still have of museums being boring or elitist. So although I still feed back on the occasional conference, Museum Diary has become a cross between a kind of travel blog of all the museums I’ve visited around the world – 56 different museums in 5 different countries in 2012 alone – and other museum related posts, including music, film, crafts, food, that try to show how fun and interesting museums can be.
What’s your most read blog post? Tell us about it.
My most popular post by far is one from last year about how museums are using Pinterest. I was one of the first people to write about it, at a time when museums were only just discovering Pinterest for themselves, and many articles written later by others on the topic referenced mine so I got a lot of additional traffic. Within my usual readership, my new series ‘Museum Craft Corner’, where I introduce craft ideas I’ve come across in museums, is proving very popular. I accept guest posts for that, so if anyone has a great craft idea they’d like to introduce, please get in touch.
What’s the craziest comment you’ve ever received?
I’m not sure that crazy is the right word for it, but certainly the oddest comment I’ve ever received was “Wow, your entire blog is about museums. Do you ever get bored of them?”. You wouldn’t say to a food blogger “Do you ever get bored of food?”. I’ve blogged about everything from parasites and perfume, phalluses and fire engines, to mummies of Egyptian pharaohs and the world’s tallest mounted dinosaur skeleton, so the answer is no, I’m not bored yet 😉
Do you tweet? Why or why not?
Yes, I tweet a lot both as @jennifuchs and as @museum140. I think Twitter is a really great way to network with like minded people across the globe and I like it’s real time dynamic. Twitter is in fact how Museum140 got its name (from the 140 character limit), as we started out on Twitter, though we have since widened out to all kinds of social media related projects.
What’s the last exhibit you saw?
The last exhibits I saw were at the Deutsches Technikmuseum here in Berlin, specifically “Lebensraum Schiff” (all about ships), “Vom Balloon zur Luftbrücke” (all about planes), and “Mensch in Fahrt – unterwegs mit Auto & Co.” (all about cars). With a little boy in the house, you can well imagine that this is one of our family favourites to visit here in Berlin. Sometimes it’s a wonder we can drag him away from the cars when it’s time to go home.
What’s the last thing you bought at a museum gift shop?
I’m so glad you asked! I love museum gift shops, and have quite a collection of trinkets piled up in my home office. It gave me the idea for one of Museum140’s most recent projects – “Museum Souvenirs” is an online collection of souvenirs that have been bought, made, gifted etc in or from museums. Anyone is welcome to contribute, so if you are interested, please get in touch. The last thing I personally bought at a gift shop is a rubber duck from the Jewish Museum Berlin!
Thanks for participating in Meet a Museum Blogger, Jenni! I love how Museum Diary has evolved into a travel, museum-fun, personal mission driven blog. 56 different museums in 5 different countries (in 2012 alone) – that’s impressive! ‘Bring museums to the masses’ – that’s something I can get behind!
What do you think of Jenni’s personal mission: “to dispel the preconceptions many people still have of museums being boring or elitist”? Do you have a personal mission that keeps you on track/inspired?
In case you missed it, Jenni blogs at Museum Diary. Do you have any additional questions for Jenni regarding her profile above? Feel free to start a conversation in the comments below or reach out to her directly on Twitter. Her Twitter handle is @jennifuchs. I highly encourage you to use the #MuseumBlogger hashtag. TY!
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