Monday, February 11, 2013

Humor Makes the Museum Go 'Round

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘Laughter Makes The World Go ‘Round,’ and maybe it’s really true. The older I get the more I believe that laughter really does make a difference. And the one place that laughter makes more of a difference is at the museum—at any museum!

One of the most unrecognized and underestimated ingredients of successful museum management (or more specifically, project management) is HUMOR. A sense of humor, a few laughs, a well timed joke, the good pratfall, that sudden shift from humdrum to delight can make all the difference in a day.

As I look back over the 32 years of my career something I can say with a great deal of certainty is that all the successful and creative people that I’ve encountered along the way all possess a great sense of humor. Every one of my bosses and mentors along the way-Mike Spock, Janet Kamien, Phyllis Rabineau, John McCarter, Cynthia Mark-Hummel -all possess this important quality. Each held within their grasp a finely-tuned, toned and unique sense of humor that not only allowed them to get through ‘a day at the museum’ but also helped us get on with it too. 

In the picture that accompanies this rant you see (with his back turned to the camera) Ray J. He is another one of these ‘museum people’ with a great sense of humor. We’ll only call him Ray J. because I didn’t ask him if we can write this about him. Frankly he is too humble, kind and considerate and would have probably said no… But it’s really important that we recognize all the Rays in our museum world! The people that have an amazing sense of humor and make our days better.

Recently a large prototype of an interactive pinball machine was delivered to a local children’s museum, and Ray was there to lend a hand and a point of view, which is always welcome. Ray is a retired professional and his insight and knowledge are immensely valuable in all kinds of situations and projects. Ray knows a lot and he is willing to share that knowledge and it makes a difference. But beyond his smarts Ray is also willing to share his joy and his sense of humor. So when the pinball machine was delivered and while it was being maneuvered into a temporary storage location Ray suddenly bursts out with an acapella rendition of The Who’s “Pinball Wizard”:

He’s a pin ball wizard
There has got to be a twist.
A pin ball wizard,
S’got such a supple wrist.

And there goes Ray singing, not quietly mind you, and not only to himself…but a full blown serenade to all his colleagues, ensuring us all that Ray is vibrant, still very HIP and most importantly, full of a sense of humor that just makes a difference, especially inside a museum.   


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