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Comparative Museology

31 January 201812:00AMviking-raidtravel

I haven't written much about museums this trip. Let's change that.

It's partly because we've been to quite a few of them, and partly because describing what's in a museum isn't super interesting, and partly because I've had just about as many hot takes as one person can have about the nature of museums and written about them in every way imaginable.

So how about this: One thing I learned at each museum. Ready? Go.

a collection of war memorabiliaa plaque, explaining that it was just some random bloke's collection

The Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam: If you collect enough of something, and put it in a nice box, it becomes art, and might one day be included in your national museum.

The Settlement Exhibition, Reykjavik: Longhouses were built around a hearth, and the size of your hearth is a status symbol. This longhouse has an unusually large hearth, and its occupants were probably proud of it.

The Phallological Museum, Reykjavik: If you collect enough of something, it might become the museum. And the size of your... collection... becomes a status symbol. This museum has an unusually large collection, and its curator is perhaps too proud of it.

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh: Before the installation of the first trans-Pacific cable in the early 1900s telegrams across the Pacific from the US travelled via the trans-Atlantic cable around the entire planet. This either caused, or was caused by, Britain's early dominance in the telegraph industry - I was a little fuzzy on that.

Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh: Scotland's crown jewels were once locked in a box and forgotten about for like a hundred years until some bloke decided that maybe we should check that they are actually where everyone said they were. Spoiler alert: they were.

Escher in het Palais, The Hague: Perhaps unsurprisingly, M C Escher and Roger Penrose were penpals.

lochie contepmplates a mondrian at the Gementesmuseum

The Gementesmuseum, The Hague: The only time that having bits of art emblazoned on your mug doesn't feel vaguely like a cash-in by the museum is when making their art part of everyday objects was kind of the artist's whole deal.

The Ann Frank House, Amsterdam: Nothing seems to inspire regular people to write and express themselves like the story of a girl who was killed before her work was published. And maybe that's the whole point. Because maybe if enough people write about it, it won't happen again.

Micropia, Amsterdam: Ironically, most modern antibiotics come from bacteria that live in dirt.

grace contemplates an ant colony at Micropia

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