Boykin’s Laws of Museology

I’m probably not the only one this happens to, but it seems to be so dang frequent in my world…

  1. There will be a mix-up based on similar names – such as Lorch and Lorsch. You will go to the wrong one first, assuming you can find the second one at all.

    Lorsch Abbey, near Worms. This is about a quarter of what once stood here. Built by Charlemagne.

    Lorch Abbey, Schwabisch Gmund.

    Lorsch is fascinating, but it has a small museum that is mostly about the tobacco industry and local manufacturing. More about the abbey would be great. Lorch is on Roman foundations and was expanded by the Staufens, including Frederick Barbarossa and Frederick II. Because it was and is such  magnificent high ground commanding two river valleys and dominating the regional road network, the site survived the Reformation, 30 Years War, and a lot of other things. Lorsch would be fascinating with more time and a lot more archaeological and Carolingian background material. Lorch has a very nice museum and gift shop.

  2. The thing you really want to see will be either a) on the road on loan or b) removed for conservation. OR
  3. Not on display that day for other reasons (like a water leak in the room next door…)

    Guess what we couldn’t see in Speyer? A Ottonian  grave crown (from AD 1043 CE or so)

    Or this little gem from the late 1000s that belonged to Henry IV…

  4. If the stars and planets do align, the items will have been permanently removed from display and are now only available to select, vetted researchers who have valid reasons to see the originals. And there are no copies on display. [Yes, Albertina, I am looking at you.]
  5. Natural history museums will have at least four school groups present, ranging in size from “small and easy to trip over” to “view-blockingly tall.”
  6. You arrive the day after, or leave the day before, “National Free Museum Day!”
  7. All the objects from a certain time period, let’s say Paleolithic and early Neolithic, have just been moved to a new state of the art, separate museum. Two miles from the last trolley or bus stop. And outside the cab ring.
  8. The museum will be in between exhibits. Large portions will be closed so that the new stuff can be assembled without patrons tripping over curators and vice versa.

Greetings and salutations, Instapundit readers!


16 thoughts on “Boykin’s Laws of Museology

  1. You forgot, temporarily closed for renovation.

    Apparently it even works for me with natural phenomenon. We visited Yellowstone as a teenager and stopped by Old Faithful. Which had erupted just before we arrived (go figure) and then we waited almost three times as long as it ALWAYS takes between eruptions. When it finally spurted it was about as impressive as a coffee pot boiling over on the stove, with the geyser measured in inches, not feet.

  2. For some reason, I thought you’d be talking your “Muse” not about Museums. 😉

    • Muse-um is still as interestin’ as Muses, unless of course it is an Aphrodite-ish Muse-one.

  3. I don’t have such a well-defined list of laws, but I do have quite a few incidents when visiting museums, parks, and other attractions.

    I wanted to visit a particular railway museum, checked the hours online, and my friend Michelle and I arrived and found thousands of people there for Thomas the Tank Engine Weekend. The next year, Michelle wanted to go to the Kentucky Horse Park one weekend, we checked the hours, and experienced the fun of a horsey place on Girl Scout Weekend.

    Henceforth, I have always checked the Calendar and/or Events section on the website of any museum or other attraction I wish to visit, and checked for any alerts or announcements. Not that they always post them, or at least not in time, but sometimes.

    A streetcar museum I had to make an overnight trip to visit had a windstorm the night before I reached it, downing trees such that it delaying opening and shut down all but about a quarter mile of their demonstration line. I was thinking of visiting the Patton Museum one weekend, only to discover it had closed the weekend prior for a multi-month renovation. I reached Lancaster County, PA one day just in time that I was going to catch the last train of the day on the Strasburg Railroad. . . except I got stuck behind an Amish horse and buggy, part of an ever-lengthening line of vehicles unable to pass it because of heavy oncoming traffic. Reaching Wild Basin

    I read up about a small state park, Hawksnest, along a route I was taking for one vacation, and checked the details, only to find after arrival that the main hiking trail was closed due to washouts and the “ski lift” connecting to the other part of the park was down for repairs. Technically, if I didn’t mind tackling 750 vertical feet of stairs both ways, I could take a trail down to it. But the nature center and the watercraft rental at the other part were both closed due to anticipated low use due to the outage. Thank goodness New River Gorge was nearby.

    And sometimes timing works out perfectly. When I was attending university the last time (successfully, yay!), the quarterly class schedules plus the project schedules at work forced vacation times into odd windows in the shoulder seasons of many parks and attractions. So it was just happenstance that I caught the last evening ranger program of 2010 at Mesa Verde National Park, as well as the last pancake breakfast of the year at the campground there.

    • I am very, very happy that I got to see Mesa Verde before it was “discovered.” Unless you can go in the off season, the lines are so long, and the limited number of slots to see certain things really take the pleasure out of it. At least for me they do.

      • Making things worse right now, Spruce Tree House is off-limits due to potential rock fall, eliminating the one major site open for self-guided tours. And it is going to remain closed until a full geotechnical evaluation is performed, and a stabilization operation can be devised, funded, and executed. Given the track record of past NPS efforts, it may be decades before (if ever) before it is open to the public again.

        • It’s best you put in reservations for your grandchildren…maybe they’ll have a chance.

          • A bit like going rafting in the Grand Canyon. Last time I looked, you had to make your reservations up to 10 years in advance (!)

    • Oh, and I forgot, as a kid my parents took me to see the Statue of Liberty…. on its 103rd anniversary. That little island was packed! Apparently I come by my sense of timing honestly.

  4. Yep, my luck is as bad as yours… Only ‘good’ museum visits I ever had was when I had the kids in DC back in 93. Everything was open, and they got to see everything ‘they’ wanted, and some things ‘I’ wanted them to see! 🙂

  5. Regarding groups of school children: there will also be noise, and more randomness than can easily be withstood.

    • Indeed. Inversely proportional to the age of the children. Younger children – greater chaos. Until you get high school aged with assignments that have to be found in the exhibits. *Sigh* Talk about mono-focus and oblivious.

  6. For me, it was a trip to Nimes, in France. My co-worker wanted to go to an Impressionist museum there. After a bit of searching, we found a blank blue door. A passer-by told us that it had closed, permanently, a few months earlier. So we went to the classical art museum. It was closed due to them changing exhibits. We ended up at the modern art museum, which neither of us were terribly interested in, just because it was actually open.

    On the other hand, my wife and I went to the Louvre and discovered that the ticket-takers were on strike that day. Fortunately for us, being on strike (for them) meant showing up for work and just waving people through – not charging for or taking tickets!

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