MiM 001 – Introduction

Confession:  I am a HUGE museum nerd!

Welcome to the first episode of my podcast Made in Museums!  I’m your guide, Sandy DeWald.  On this podcast we’ll explore the world of independent museums that were started because of someone’s passion for a very, very specific subject.

Museum Tourism Sign

Museum Tourism Sign

Have you ever seen one of those brown – or sometimes blue or green — tourism signs along the highway or on some city street and thought, “Now, why would there be museum about that?” then this is the podcast for you.  I mean, who hasn’t wondered — why is there a National Bird Dog Museum, or an International Towing Museum, or a barbed wire museum?

I love traveling to off-the-beaten path, odd, or quirky places.  If it’s some place only the locals know about, then that’s where I want to go.  And if I can learn something new or it makes me think by opening up an entirely new world I never knew existed – bonus!   I am wholeheartedly in!

Who is this podcast for?  Well, let me ask you this:

  • Are you the type of person that reads every label in a museum?
  • Do you casually drop such scintillating conversational tidbits at a friend’s party like, “You know, there are more than 530 registered patents for barbed wire resulting in over 2500 different types of barbed wire?” (yep – totally true)
  • How about this one?  When you go on vacation, do you research all of the local museums ahead of time, and then plan an intricate route to see how many you can visit?
  • OR…have you ever negotiated with your family that, yes, you’ll agree to visit the 27,000 touristy things they want to do if they’ll, please, please, please, let you go to the museum featuring jewelry made from human hair or a psychiatric museum or a museum with glow-in-the-dark rocks>?

Does any of this sound like you?  Then embrace your inner museum nerd and join me on this really interesting, curious, and sometimes crazy, journey!

Each episode will highlight one specific museum, and we’ll talk with someone connected to that museum.  It could be the founder, a curator, a tour guide – really just about anyone – and we’ll discuss how the museum got started and why.  We’ll uncover the stories connecting that person to the museum, the backstories of different objects found in the museum, and then how the museum connects with their community.

Over the years I’ve visited many small, independent museums. Museums make us think — exposing us to new ideas that transform how we view ourselves and our relationships to the objects around us.  Museums make us who we are.

Sometimes they may be creepy (seriously, side confession, doll museums have always kind of freaked me out).  Some focus on mundane household items like quilts, teapots, or cookie cutters.  Others feature traditionally beautiful objects such as minerals, airplanes, and silk tapestries, while others might just be more than a little macabre like lunatic asylums, medical museums, or former prisons.

There are over 35,000 museums in the United States.  My goal is to highlight the smaller museums that you may have never heard of, but have truly fascinating collections and fantastic stories.  I want to share the stories behind the labels, highlight the “must-see” items, and then give you the information to plan your own trip to these incredibly interesting places.

Museums aren’t stodgy relics that focus on the past, but are vibrant, odd, challenging places that spark curiosity.  So let’s give a voice to museums, let’s get out there and visit these places, and together let’s answer the question, “Now, why is there a museum about that?”

In the show notes for each episode you’ll find bonus material for each museum visited – including a downloadable travel guide. You can also find Made in Museums on Facebook and Twitter. And if you want to let me know about a curious museum that you’ve visited, and that I should cover on this show, contact me through social media or just send me an email at sandy@madeinmuseums.com.

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