National Book Festival author list posted


This year’s National Book Festival will, in true 2020 fashion, take place online the weekend of September 25-27, and the author list was recently posted here.

Below are some photos I’ve previously posted from the event in less plaguey years.

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Thirty-one Recent Reads: Museums in the Time of COVID-19


Two and a half months ago, I wrote, “I’m going to live-blog the heck out of this plague.” And…then I didn’t post anything for the entire month of May. I did set a goal for the month to read an article that hopefully related to both COVID-19 and some aspect of the museum world every day, and to write a one-page handwritten journal entry every day. (While I did not succeed in doing literally one reading and one writing per day, I did end up with 31 articles and 31 journal entries.)

I imagined that early June would be a continuation of the monotony of late March and April and early May, and I’d be able to organize my readings and writings into something coherent. But so much has changed in late May and early June. The pandemic is still very much a part of our world, but anything coherent that I might write solely based on my May readings (many of which had been written before May) no longer seems relevant.

For now, here is a list of the articles and other short writings I read in May:

This NASA Website Shows What the Hubble Telescope Saw on Your Birthday

A professor gives a challenging assignment; his students’ responses move him to tears

Keep the Parks Open

Westmoreland Museum staffer’s dog becomes Instagram art critic (see the Instagram page here)

Why Learning at Home Should Be More Self-Directed—and Less Structured

Museum Access in the Age of COVID and Beyond

How to celebrate Easter during the coronavirus crisis

Dutch restaurant trials glass booths for dining amid coronavirus

How COVID-19 is Impacting Intentions to Visit Cultural Entities – May 4, 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic Sheds New Light on Access to the Arts

Between Protest and Pandemic: Baltimore Uprising in the Time of Corona

Instead Of Laying Off Workers, Kansas City’s WWI Museum Redeploys Them To Expand Digital Archive

Pritzker promotes social distancing — to penguins at the Shedd Aquarium

Summer Is Officially Beginning to Be Canceled

The Stay Home, Stay Reading Virtual Initiative to Support Authors

Portland Chinatown Museum: ‘Ethnic labeling’ pandemic wrong

Auschwitz Museum condemns Nazi slogan at ‘Re-open Illinois’ protest

Hundreds of Museums Around the World Are Sending Each Other Bouquets of Art Historical Flowers to Spread Love in a Dark Time

Metropolitan Museum of Art will reopen in August as other museums test the waters

Seven more big cats test positive for coronavirus at Bronx Zoo

Without tourist revenue, Prague’s Jewish community fears for future of welfare services

People Are Remembering What Music Is Really For

Yes, Viruses Used To Be Named After Places. Here’s Why They Aren’t Anymore and the 2015 WHO statement: WHO issues best practices for naming new human infectious diseases

US Mayors Petition Congress for Arts Funding in Next Federal Relief Package

WASH YOUR HANDS: San Francisco added public hand-washing stations throughout the city to help combat the spread of coronavirus. Here’s what they’re like.

Coronavirus memorials will be created. The real issue is how we want our losses remembered.

Library of Congress Celebrates ‘American Ingenuity’ and Takes 2020 National Book Festival Online for Readers Everywhere

Ribbons of Remembrance Lenoir Preserve serves as memorial for lives lost to COVID-19

Welcome to the World’s First COVID-19 Art Museum

The Smithsonian Is Collecting Coronavirus ‘Artifacts’ To Document The Pandemic

Drexel Therapy Dogs Host ‘Paws’itive Art Contest

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April 2020 Virtual Vacation Recap


As I detailed in my last post, I planned a virtual vacation for the month of April, with a themed online activity planned for 25 of the 30 days. (I left Thursdays out since I was initially slated to go into the office every Thursday, but that changed and I ended up only working in the office the first Thursday. I’m now teleworking full-time.) This virtual vacation primarily involved visiting museums online, but also included other cultural offerings as well as reading up on how the museum world is affected by, and responding to, the pandemic.

I started out treating the endeavor as a regular vacation in the sense that I actually took photos and screenshots of the virtual visits, just as I would take pictures while sightseeing on a real trip. It wasn’t until Day 26 that it occurred to me that, rather than try to keep track of the virtual museums by photographing my computer screen, it would have made more sense to keep a list of links to the sites I perused.

Here, I’ll try to reconstruct a list of the “places” I “visited”:

National Book Festival 2019, Washington, DC – panel in which Valeria Luiselli and R.O. Kwon are interviewed by Aminatta Forna. (I had just finished reading Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive)

Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California

Irish Museum of Modern Art to be used as mortuary to cope with coronavirus pandemic (The Art Newspaper article); Museums scramble to document the pandemic, even as it unfolds (Art Daily article); MoMA Terminates All Museum Educator Contracts (Hyperallergic article); Museum as space of opportunity, creativity & care: A perspective from Spain (Art Museum Teaching post)

Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, California

Connecticut Science Center, Hartford, Connecticut; Science Sunday videos

Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum, Baltimore, Maryland; Facebook page

National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC; Facebook page

Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, Illinois; Facebook page

Old Korean Legation, Washington, DC

Pass the Song, Pass the Hat virtual concert recorded in various places including Northampton, Massachusetts

Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo, Maryland; Facebook pages for the park and aquarium

Washington County, Tennessee Archives; Facebook page

Schuyler-Hamilton House, Morristown, New Jersey; Facebook page (and link to “I Have This Friend” by Lin-Manuel Miranda)

NASA virtual visits to outer space; National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC on Google Arts & Culture

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, California; YouTube channel

Notre Dame de Paris, France; link to ABC article with photos and explanation of what was damaged in the fire here (I also took a few virtual tour links that I can’t find now with certainty)

National Museum of American History; Facebook page

Why Is Washing Your Hands So Important, Anyway? (article in Smithsonian Magazine)

Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, Georgia; Facebook page

The 8 Essential Things Museums are Providing Right Now (Museum Computer Network article) and In Substantial Shift, Museum Industry Group Pushes Directors to Break the Rules to Survive (Art News article)

Museo Larco, Lima, Peru

Royal Academy of Arts, London, England; Twitter feed; and National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Twitter feed

Kyoto Costume Institute, Kyoto, Japan

Prince George’s African American History Museum & Cultural Center, North Brentwood, Maryland; Facebook page

National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; YouTube channel

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April 2020 Virtual Vacation Calendar


Below is my personal challenge for April: virtually partake in or read about the offerings of museums and other cultural institutions. (I’m currently going into the office on Thursdays only, so I left that day of the week blank.)

April 2020 Virtual Vacation Calendar

April 2020 Virtual Vacation Calendar

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This Seems Like the Perfect Time to Report on the 2019 National Book Festival!


I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts and my reading and my images into a coherent “coronavirus blog post.” But my mind is too incoherent right now for any such thing. There will probably be MANY coronavirus blog posts. I’m going to live-blog the heck out of this plague. The result will hopefully be, at the very least, more coherent than my eight thousand disjointed Facebook posts and shares every day, a social distancing habit I have developed of late.

It’s been hard for me to focus in this reality, whether on work, or all the life management I should theoretically be taking care of with all this extra time at home, or even the post I’d written on social media about whatever aspect of the pandemic was distracting me two hours ago. People are responding, but by two hours later, I’ve moved on to some other horrific news story. I can’t carry on my half of a conversation. To everyone to whom I owe replies: I am sorry! I do not mean to be ignoring you. My mind is so scattered right now that I just keep starting new threads without coming back to older ones. Maybe blogging will help?

The focus of my blog has always been museums, parks, and other cultural offerings and informal education sites. With that lens in mind, I’ve been planning to write about what museums are doing right now in the midst of coronavirus. They are doing a LOT. In places all over the country and world, their buildings have closed (even many outdoor sites and parks are discouraging heavy visitation or are closing outright), but they are active online, providing lighthearted tweets, detailed educational resources for children who are suddenly home for the rest of the school year, podcasts, photos of highlights from the collection, story time videos, and other remote learning opportunities that I’ll be exploring more in the weeks to come.

For now, before even delving into the overwhelming number of recent posts from museums that I’ve saved on Facebook to peruse later, I want to write about the most recent National Book Festival, which took place at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, in Washington, DC, in August 2019. While I’ve written up my thoughts on several past National Book Festivals, I never did a blog post about 2019’s iteration of the event. Now, I’m looking over the notebook I carried with me that day, in which a couple of unintended themes emerge: parallels between historical eras, and individual and collective trauma. (*Please note, in the quotes that follow from the National Book Festival, I was rapidly scribbling what I found to be the most interesting or poignant remarks the authors made, so they might not be exact quotes.)

On the Fiction stage, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden interviewed Barbara Kingsolver about her novel Unsheltered. Kingsolver explained: “These truths we hold to be self-evident just aren’t true anymore: civil governance, a pension at the end of a job, a job at the end of a college education, icecaps not melting, fish in the ocean….I thought it would be interesting to find another WTF era”* to write about. (The “WTF era” she found was the 1880s, when people were still in the early stages of coming to terms with Charles Darwin’s discoveries upending humans’ understanding of their role in relation to the so-called natural world.) Where we are now, seven months after Kingsolver’s talk, is definitely the most WTF era of my own lifetime.

Poet Natasha Trethewey spoke at the festival about the “two existential wounds that hurt me into poetry…the need to make art of out trauma, both national and personal…and the need to talk back, to articulate a calling.”* Here, the inspiration for writing is described not as a muse, but as a hurt. Whatever great art and writing comes out of our current crisis will owe itself not just to the newfound time for indoor, solitary hobbies, but also to the pain and loss and anxiety and rage we are experiencing.

(And there will also be art and writing that is not considered great. As poet Sheila Black pointed out at the festival, “When really terrible things happen in our lives, we don’t speak like Shakespeare.”*)

The “national and personal” nature of trauma referenced by Trethewey speaks to the intersection of the personal and the political (which happens to be one of my favorite subjects). Author Julia Alvarez mused on the festival’s Poetry and Prose stage, “What is interesting to me is what politicizes people…What is the last straw?”* Separately, and specifically in reference to the time before the disability rights movement coalesced, Black stated, “We’d been sealed in our private drama and we didn’t see ourselves as a collective and as being a political minority.”*

Today, the fight for disability rights is much more recognized in the public consciousness, but that is not to say that it’s a fight that’s been won. In a recent article, Emily Ladau, a disabled writer and disability rights activist, described the prevailing guidelines on triaging coronavirus patients as terrifying but not surprising: “this pandemic is bringing into sharp focus the fact that millions of disabled people on this planet have always lived in the position of being one crisis away from those with power determining their lives are not worth saving.”

As we look back with bewilderment on the last few months, and who (myself included) knew what when, and predicted what and took what seriously at what time, I keep thinking, Rebecca Makkai called it. In her talk at the National Book Festival on The Great Believers, her novel about the height of the AIDS epidemic and its aftermath, she said, “There are going to be plenty of opportunities for greedy people to cling to power by disenfranchising the already disenfranchised…there will be more epidemics.”*

Rebecca Makkai at the 2019 National Book Festival: "There will be more epidemics." Rebecca Makkai on the Fiction Stage, and on the jumbo screen

Rebecca Makkai at the 2019 National Book Festival: “There will be more epidemics.”

In addition to the article linked above about disability, we don’t have to look far to find examples of how already vulnerable people are put further at risk. Many of us white-collar workers are working from home these days (in my case, I’m teleworking four days and going into the office one day each week). Meanwhile, essential workers – often poorly paid and without paid sick leave – are at risk of contracting coronavirus; for non-essential work in the service industry, jobs are disappearing left and right. Further, the dystopian idea that the elderly should be willing to die in order to save the economy is not relegated to the poorly trafficked fringe corner of the web where it should be. Nor is the phrase “Chinese virus” or otherwise using the coronavirus as a pretext for anti-Asian racism limited to Stormfront (or whatever that website is called), but instead has been deliberately used by Donald Trump in his often science-spurning speeches.

Trump doesn’t need to “speak like Shakespeare,” to borrow Sheila Black’s phrasing, right now. None of us do. But this WTF era is calling us to be informed and humane, now more than ever.

****

*Please note, in the quotes above from the National Book Festival, I was rapidly scribbling what I found to be the most interesting or poignant remarks the authors made, so they might not be exact quotes.

 

 

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March 2020 TBR


Blogging in the time of coronavirus… here’s my TBR list for this surreal month.

Place to visit: LITERALLY ANYWHERE

Articles to read, videos to watch, podcasts to listen to, etc.:

Paid to Stay Home: Europe’s Safety Net Could Ease Toll of Coronavirus

Exclusive: ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ at the Museum of the Bible are all forgeries

12 World-Class Museums You Can Visit Online

Museums, Unions and Creating a Culture of Transparency

An Appeal to Congress to Include Nonprofits in Packages for Relief and Stimulus

Lack of Paid Sick Leave Prevents Workers From Complying With CDC Advice

Coronavirus Cancelations Threaten Livelihoods of Independent Artists

Cities Are Building Elder Playgrounds For Baby Boomers To Exercise And Play

International Aid’s Voluntourism Problem

Visualizing the Refugee Experience

How bumble bees inspired a network of tiny museums

Principles for Ethical Cancellation

New sculpture pays tribute to military working dogs

Community Care in the Time of Coronavirus

Transgender Center Joins Ranks of Nonprofits Fighting Their Unionizing Workers

Step Inside the World’s 9 Most Futuristic Libraries

How Social Distancing Could Lead to a Spike in White Nationalism

Zulu, the lady ross turaco, reminding you to wash your hands for a full 20 seconds – which is exactly how long this video is.

Museopunks Episode 43: How do we live in turbulent times?

New Border Wall Segments Would End U.S. Jaguar Recovery

Why Art And Science Are More Closely Related Than You Think

On Literary Plagues

Nonprofits launch site for Asian Americans to report coronavirus-related racism

Opinion | I Refuse to Run a Coronavirus Home School

WMA’s 10 Tips on How to Work from Home

A Secret Tunnel Found in Mexico May Finally Solve the Mysteries of Teotihuacán

The Artists Who Found Inspiration in Isolation

Coronavirus is just the first of many pandemics to come, environmentalists warn

As the Art World Shuts Down Over COVID-19, Uncertainty Plagues Hourly Workers

A Century of Community Gardens

Morning MeditOcean — A Guided Meditation with the Moon Jellies

Disabled People Are Not Simply Dispensable During a Pandemic

National Park Service to waive entrance fees at open parks to aid social distancing

10 Art History Classes You Can Take Online (for Free)

Atlanta man assembles portable hand washing stations for homeless

Most American museums have closed for coronavirus. A third may never reopen.

The top six hashtags to follow now as the art world moves onto social media

Amid coronavirus outbreak, drive-in theaters unexpectedly find their moment

 

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February 2020 TBR


February 2020 TBR

Place to Visit: Planet Word, once it opens!

Articles to Read:

Puerto Rico earthquakes imperil island’s indigenous heritage

Thousands of Ancient Aboriginal Sites Probably Damaged in Australian Fires

Why Nonprofit Staff Wages Are as Important as CEO Salaries

Tribal Nation Condemns ‘Desecration’ to Build Border Wall

With An Election On The Horizon, Older Adults Get Help Spotting Fake News

Playbrary: A new vision of the neighborhood library

The Future of Nonprofit Leadership: Worker Self-directed Organizations

Washington State to Ban Bottled Water Operations

‘Exposure doesn’t pay bills’: What artists say about freebie culture

The Smithsonian Might Build A Women’s History Museum On The Mall

AIA issues letter to President Trump opposing proposed executive order

100 Museums Transformed Their Collections Into Free Coloring Pages

Association of Art Museum Directors Calls for End of Unpaid Internships

STEAM not STEM: Why scientists need arts training

National Archives exhibit blurs images critical of President Trump

How Can Museum Workers Feel Less Stressed?

Several NYC Museums and Institutions Declined to Host Early Voting In 2019

Proposed Book Banning Bill in Missouri Could Imprison Librarians

Of #MuseumMeToo, Whiteness, and Doing the Right Thing

A New Art Installation Will Grapple With Alexandria’s Role In The Slave Trade

How to fight the far right? Invite them in – the German museum taking on hate

Italy Becomes First Country to Make Climate Change Education Mandatory

Workers say Museum of Science demoted them for not upselling visitors

Italian Museums Shut down Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Deadly coronavirus closes Great Wall of China as 41 million put on lockdown

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January 2020 TBR


Place to visit:

Ever since I first learned about the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in middle school geography, I have wanted to visit. Over the years, it has been such a dismay to learn about the bleak outlook facing the Reef. I would also like to visit the Australian outback, which has been at the forefront of my mind during this sad month.

Articles to read:

The Smithsonian is already hunting for impeachment artifacts.

The great dismantling of America’s national parks is under way

Well-meaning knitters told to stop sending koala mittens to Australia

A Harry Potter Fantastic Beasts Exhibition Is Coming To Natural History Museum

He Left a Museum After Women Complained; His Next Job Was Bigger

Australian architects offer free design services to bushfire victims

Low unemployment isn’t worth much if the jobs barely pay

Targeting Cultural Sites in War Is Illegal. It’s Also Barbaric.

How Rising Sea Levels Are Gentrifying Miami

ICOM and ICOMOS jointly and strongly condemn any deliberate destruction of cultural heritage

Greenbelt, other Md. towns gear up to fight proposed high-speed train

Defenders of History Take Aim at Trump’s Threat to Strike Iran’s Cultural Sites

Restorative Practices, Exhausting Teachers

Border Patrol Museum visitors want to talk current events. The staff doesn’t.

Does the Museum Model Work?

What Can We Learn About Neighborhoods From Their Little Free Libraries?

Museums, Diversity and Philanthropy

13 Architectural Gingerbread Houses That Are Definitely Not Cookie-Cutter

Restaurant: Moving Slave Auction Block Will Hurt Business

First Americans Museum: OKC Native American museum announces new name

19 of the world’s coolest playgrounds designed by top architects

Why Hungarians Make the World’s Most Beautiful Gingerbread

11 Works of Trans-Positive Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Stunning Beauty of Islamic Geometric Patterns

Coolness and wisdom: Impeachment day under the Capitol Dome

The Virgin Mary in handcuffs: How a viral image humanizes the immigration debate

Let’s Show Some Love to Nonprofit Regulators: Trump Foundation Pays Its Fine

A Sick Society? Data Reveal Shorter Lives and More Deaths of Despair

More than 700 scholars pen letter urging House to impeach Trump

Opinion | How the Superrich Took Over the Museum World

The Humanities Must Go on the Offensive

Craftsman Builds a Stick Library for Dogs at the Park

Book Lover Arranges Her Huge Library of Novels Into Imaginative Scenes

Behold: The World’s Largest (Three-Ton) Gingerbread Village

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December 2019 TBR


Event to attend:

I have been wanting to see the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade in Alexandria tomorrow, but I’ve been sick the last couple of days, so I’m not sure I’ll make it.

Articles to Read:

Unpaid Internships Are Unfair To Poorer People & They Should Be Stopped

Sticks and Stones: bullying in museums

Don’t call it the Freer/Sackler. Call it the National Museum of Asian Art

Doing Museum Work: Your Thoughts

The surprising truth about chronic illness and the future of work

How Museum Stores Support Their Institutions and the Public

Games of the Decade: The world would be better if we all played Pokémon Go

How You Act Makes Workplace Equity Happen

These Roadside Markers Have a Futuristic Climate Twist

New Monument in the Vatican Encourages Compassion for Refugees

Why art and music matter in the fight for social justice

Belonging: Co-creating welcoming and equitable museums

The 10 most misleading American historical sites

When Museum Neighbors Include Neighbors without Homes

Museums and Historic Homes Grapple With Difficult Pasts

Plantations Only Now Begin to Exit Role as Museums of Whitewashed Nonsense

Don’t despair if your teen wants to major in history instead of science

Teachers’ implicit bias against black students starts in preschool, study finds

National Gallery debuts mental health awareness audio tour

A Grave Climate Warning, Buried on Black Friday

Workers say Museum of Science demoted them for not upselling visitors

Museum Offers Visitors Chance to Sleep in an Edward Hopper Painting

New App Takes Smithsonian Visitors Beyond Visuals

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November 2019 TBR


Place to Visit:

The American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial in DC. I have walked past it but have not stopped to spend time exploring.

Articles to Read:

Scientists Around the World Declare ‘Climate Emergency’

Italian council is flooded immediately after rejecting measures on climate change

7 major Venice tourist sites damaged by historic flooding

Hear Ye! The Freedom Trail’s Tour Guides Have Had Enough

Marciano Art Foundation Lays Off Employees Trying to Unionize

Museum Workers Stand Up to Owners After Being Laid Off

Murals as Voice: Who We Are, Painted on the Walls

Where Women See Bias, Men See a ‘Pipeline Problem’

North Dakota brewery is putting shelter dogs on its beer cans

The fight to stop Nestlé from taking America’s water to sell in plastic bottles

New Donor Ethics Rules: Why Policies and Procedures Alone Can’t Protect Us

Microsoft Japan Says 4-Day Workweek Boosted Workers’ Productivity By 40%

Celebrations and tears from traditional owners as Uluru climb ban begins

The Far Right Is Taking On Cultural Institutions

Why Libraries Have a Public Spirit That Most Museums Lack

The post office just released a new set of stamps to honor military dogs

Border wall poses new problems for the endangered Mexican Gray Wolf

Pizza Hut’s ‘Little Free Libraries’ Look Exactly Like Mini Pizza Huts

Is there a culture of exclusion in museums?

12 Native American Authors to Read During Native American Heritage Month

Fredericksburg to move slave auction block to museum

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