A day in a museum worker’s life…

This is what a regular working day in my life is like. Of course, it is a premeditated and embellished version of it.

I work in the Historical Museum of La Matanza, a highly populated county in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina; the museum is located about 40 km away from the capital city of Buenos Aires. (Confusingly, the city is not actually in the province of the same name despite being nearby.)

Diferent views of the museum and its park…

My working day starts with the ritual of drinking mate and having something delicious to eat with my colleagues at the Museum. While having mate (this could last one hour or even more) we set up the everyday stuff that makes a Museum run such as checking the mail and social media inboxes, booking or canceling visits, opening the doors of the exhibition rooms, photocopying hand-outs for the visitors, checking the classrooms for the activities that would start in the next hours, and so on.

Some days, only if the group who has booked a visit has requested it, I guide visitors through the paleontology exhibit. I have been doing these tours for a year, but I still feel like every guided visit is my first one. The paleo-visit consists of a short video with the former curator explaining how fossils are extracted, transported, and finally preserved in the museum. Right after that, I check in with the visitors about what they absorbed, and recap some of the important points. Then we go see the fossils themselves. Every group is different, so this is more exciting for some visitors than others. I find it challenging to set a teaching pace that feels comfortable for everyone, including me, but most of the time it turns out just fine! The visit can last 20-40 minutes, depending on the group’s engagement in it.

paleo-visit

Pre-school students looking at the skull of a Macrauchenia sp. currently in exhibition.

When I’m not guiding a group, I might be doing some not-archaeology related activity under request by others. However, I always get some time to do archaeology business. On some occasions, visitors ask for a talk about archaeology, so I perform a presentation and a show them some artifacts. Other times, I get time to research the collections behind the scenes. Lately I have been sorting a prehispanic pottery assemblage, and I expect to be able to include information about about it in tours next year. Last year I analyzed a sample of floor-tiles from a 19th century archaeological site and was invited to give a public presentation in a neighboring county about concealed objects from the same site.

Sherds from Puente 12, also known as Ezeiza or Tres Ombúes.

Outside work, I sometimes travel to Buenos Aires city to meet fellow students and colleagues with whom I’m working on the three-dimensional modelling of faunal remains for educational purposes. What we do, in a nutshell, is: select specimens from the comparative collection, take photos, process the photos in PPT-GUI (here’s a previous contribution on this topic and the software) and discuss whether it is suitable for research and education or not. Read more on the Limay team blog under the tag “Arqueofaunas digitales” (in Spanish only).

Trying to photograph a bone with a wite-ish background may not be the best idea, FYI.

That is all folks… for now… 

Cheers! 

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