If you call a major museum and ask for the curator, you probably get handed off to some assistant to the assistant curator, or the registrar, or an office manager. If you call my museum and ask for the curator, you get me.
99 percent of these calls shouldn’t even make it to me, but our front desk volunteers are ancient and can’t follow instructions, nevermind filter my calls. So they just send them straight through to me. I get dozens of the following questions weekly, if not daily. You get to choose the proper response from the choices provided under each question.
1. I have an old newspaper / rock / dinosaur bone. I’m at the front desk. Can you come tell me what it is?
a) No. We are unable to provide identification and authentication services (not to mention we don’t collect newspapers or dinosaur bones or rocks).
b) Screw you. I’m not an on-call curator.
c) Oh Goody! A Newspaper / rock / dinosaur bone! I’ll be right up!
2. I have a Declaration of Independence, and I want to sell it to you. How much is it worth and how much will you give me?
a) At this time, our museum does not have any funds available for the purchase of artifacts. More importantly, it is against museum policy to provide any authentication, monetary valuation, or appraisals for any items. I am happy to provide you with a list of professional appraisers.
b) Ha-ha SUCKER! I hate to tell you this, but the chances of your document being authentic are slim to none. Can’t wait to see the look on your face when the documents dealer tells you as much! How much did you pay for it?
3. I have a very urgent research question and hope you can help me right away. [15 minute story about the person’s great grandmother] Can you help me with my geneaological research?
a) Our archives and library are open by appointment only, according to museum policy. You are welcome to make an appointment with me to come in and use our archives and library for your research. My earliest opening is…
b) Who cares?! Your stupid genealogy is neither my problem nor in my interests.
c) I know you’ve got no one to talk to besides your 17 cats, but I’ve got better things to do. Could you hurry the hell up here?!