Meet a Museum Blogger

Meet a Museum Blogger: Marcus A. Harshaw, Jr.

Eight years into his career and Marcus A. Harshaw, Jr. is still an emerging museum professional. He started in public program and exhibition experience roles for the Indiana State Museum and now manages the department of Special Programs and Exhibits for Cincinnati Museum Center. A self-proclaimed, museum junkie, Marcus loves to travel visiting as many museums as he can. He once visited the International Museum of Shoes in Ville de Romans-sur-Isère, France where he learned the importance of the right shoe for the right situation. 

Marcus HarshawDo you work in a museum? If not, where do you work? Tell us about your job.

I work as the Manager of Special Programs & Exhibits at Cincinnati Museum Center in historic Union Terminal. I oversee the exhibit experience for all of our blockbuster special exhibitions and evening museum rentals as well as public programming for our special exhibitions and OMNIMAX® films.

What’s your educational background?

I started my bachelor’s degree in History in Indianapolis at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI), and finished in in December of 2012 at Northern Kentucky University graduating cum laude. I am currently in my second semester of my masters in museum studies with Johns Hopkins University which I hope to complete in December of 2015.

What was your ‘sticky’ moment?

It was a chance visit to a special exhibition at the Field Museum in Chicago in 2005 that was when I knew I needed to work in museums. The Field Museum was hosting Pompeii: Stories from an Eruption telling the tale of the Roman city’s final hours before being covered by a thick layer of volcanic ash. The well preserved artifacts recovered from Pompeii, including bright frescoes, polished jewelry and somber body casts, illustrate how a once thriving city was destroyed and recovered. I was in awe at the fact that these precious artifacts could stand the test of time, and captivated by the fact that people 2000 years ago lived so similarly to people today. The exhibition inspired me to understand how major exhibitions like Pompeii were produced and toured, and I set out on a journey to explore roles in museums and be a part of something as amazing as what I had experienced.

What is the name of your blog? How long have you been blogging?

I’ve been blogging under a couple of different titles for 4 years now, but most recently consolidated those blogs and relaunched under the name Museum Avenue

What do you blog about? Why?

I blog about whatever I think is interesting about museum life. I may blog about an issue in museum education, my thoughts on a particular exhibition or museum, a successful program, reblog an interesting blog regarding museum technology, or how I feel about grad school. Museum Avenue gives me the flexibility to tackle a broad range of topics.

What’s your most read blog post? Tell us about it.

By far my most read blog post was one I did about the Titanic exhibition at COSI, Columbus. It averages over well 300 views per year and was written in 2010! The post itself was the first detailing my 2010 Midwest Museums Tour that took me from Columbus to Chicago to Milwaukee. I discussed the experience in the exhibition and some of the highlights. This post has so many views that the second place post has under half the number of views than Titanic. People apparently love a spoiler!

What’s the last exhibit you saw?

I recently took my staff on a field trip to visit the Frazier History Museum in Louisville where we saw The Eye of Napoleon. It is a very cool exhibition that tells the story of the life and times of Napoleon from his early days leading his armies across Europe to his death in exile on Saint Helena Island.

What’s the last thing you bought at a museum gift shop?

I always buy magnets at museum gift shops and have a growing museum magnet collection. The last two that I have acquired are from the Frazier History Museum in Louisville, Kentucky and the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Michigan. The magnets serve as a small, inexpensive memento that remind me of my travels to various museums and make a pretty neat visual on my office door.

Do you tweet? Why or why not?

I do tweet, and love to do it. I love the fact that I can connect to colleagues across the globe. As museums are collaborating more and more on a global scale, twitter helps to make the world a little smaller.

Night at the Museum: love it or hate it?

Love it, but not in the traditional reason that you think. One weekend I was home visiting my parents, and my Dad and I were discussing how work was going. He looks at me and says, “Do you know how I explain your job to my colleagues at work?” I was intrigued and frightened at the same time, but had to know the answer. He continues, “I tell them it’s like the Night at the Museum movies, but without all the dumb stuff.” I laughed uncontrollably. So, I love Night at the Museum, but because it reminds me of that experience with my dad.

Thanks for participating in Meet a Museum Blogger, Marcus!

In case you missed it, Marcus blogs at Museum Avenue.

Do you have additional questions for Marcus regarding his profile above? Feel free to start a conversation in the comments below or reach out to him directly on Twitter at @czarshawPlease use the #MuseumBlogger hashtag. TY!

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