Museum Avenue

A blog about life in the museum world.

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My Thoughts on Hamilton County Commissioners’ Decision

Now that I’ve had time to think about the Hamilton County Commissioners’ decision, and I have read this morning’s article from the Enquirer “5 Reasons Music Hall Got Dropped from Tax Levy,” and I have this to say (Opinion expressed here represent my own thoughts and not those of my employer):

News flash: Neither Union Terminal or Music Hall is a stadium. While I know this is not breaking news, it clearly needs to be stated. I am disappointed that the stadium woes continues to be the scapegoat that continues to hold all Hamilton County, and all of Southwest Ohio back. I am disappointed that the stadium finance problems of yesteryear have decided tomorrow’s cultural facilities outcomes. The commissioners should exercise real leadership and quit with the excuses. That is all the stadium argument is; an excuse to make the “easy wrong” as Bob McDonald put it. I do not get to blame people from 10 or 15 years ago for not performing in my job today, right here, right now.

It is a shame that the county and the city cannot work together. I spent years in the Indianapolis area and am used to the UniGov system of government. In 1970, Indianapolis and Marion County consolidated government which made government more efficient with many shared services. It was not an overnight fix, for instance a consolidated Indianapolis Metropolital Police Department which consolidated Indianapolis City officers and Marion County officers did not happen until 2005, and I still think consolidated Fire services has been a bigger struggle still. Overall coordination of the entirety of Marion County, Indiana has been a (relatively) peaceful and efficient process. There are some areas in Marion County that are not part of Indianapolis government, but still receive county benefits. The bickering between city and county is not something I’m familiar with (Bickering between City/County and State, however is MUCH different). Hamilton County could benefit from such a system. I know there are a billion little villages, towns, townships, cities and more inside the confines of Hamilton County, Ohio, but at some point, “leaders” need to consider what they are sacrificing to bloat their own egos. Quit fighting amongst each other because as John F. Kennedy once said, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Unfortunately, the tide is out in Hamilton County.

I am fortunate to have shaken Bob McDonald’s hand. That is a moment that I will never forget. I was in my yellow Save Our Icons t-shirt, holding a yellow “Speak for Us” sign and of course sporting my yellow Icons hard hat. Bob McDonald, Cultural Task Force chair, former CEO of Procter and Gamble, and now 8th Secretary of Veterans Affairs, shook my hand on his way out and thanked me for my support. He thanked me! If anything, I thank him for his tireless support and model leadership. I only wish I could be half the leader that he is. Bob McDonald called into the Commissioners’ meeting yesterday from Washington because Veterans Affairs, and asked Commissioners “to make the hard right, not to make the easy wrong.” Regardless of the outcome of yesterday’s vote, his words will stay with me forever, and he has inspired me to be a better leader.


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10 things everyone thinks when they go to a museum

History, Heritage and all that

In the manner of the best distraction and time wasting websites online, I have decided to list the top ten things that go through my mind when I go to a museum or historic site.

1) Am I too old to play with the dressing up clothes?

1a 1b 1c

2) Same for the toys.

2b  2a

3) When it gets busy, its war with all other people. Let me get to the front!


4) Surely its now my turn to pose for that iconic photo?

4b 4a

5) Now this would be a good facebook cover photo

5a  5b

6) Or even profile picture?

6a 6b

7) I want to touch it but the sign not to ….


8) Didn’t they film that show here?


9) I do like a good castle.

9a 9b

10) I hate mannequins, they are creepy.

10b 10a

Do you agree? Disagree? I think the last two says something about me…

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Meet a Museum Blogger: Marcus A. Harshaw, Jr.

Lookie who made one of the hottest museum blogs around! Yours truly!

Museum Minute

Eight years into his career and Marcus A. Harshaw, Jr. is still an emerging museum professional. He started in public program and exhibition experience roles for the Indiana State Museum and now manages the department of Special Programs and Exhibits for Cincinnati Museum Center. A self-proclaimed, museum junkie, Marcus loves to travel visiting as many museums as he can. He once visited the International Museum of Shoes in Ville de Romans-sur-Isère, France where he learned the importance of the right shoe for the right situation. 

Marcus HarshawDo you work in a museum? If not, where do you work? Tell us about your job.

I work as the Manager of Special Programs & Exhibits at Cincinnati Museum Center in historic Union Terminal. I oversee the exhibit experience for all of our blockbuster special exhibitions and evening museum rentals as well as public programming for our special exhibitions and OMNIMAX® films.


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10 Incredible Repurposed Train Stations

My home museum, The Cincinnati Museum Center, is in a repurposed train station; the beautiful art deco masterpiece, Union Terminal – #10 on these 10 incredible repurposed train stations.


The heyday of railway travel may have passed, but the nostalgic allure of architecturally striking infrastructure has ensured that it’s not the end of the line for many historic station buildings. We recently learned that Union Station in Denver, which opened to passengers in the late 19th century, will be transformed into a trendy hotel, with adjoining restaurants and a beer hall, by 2014. Click through our gallery to see how other train stations have been repurposed into thriving cultural centers, libraries, and more.

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Check out this blog post from the amazing Cate Bayles on how to get into the museum field.

Fresh in the Field

New jobs are tough. Some days I think I’ve finally got things figured out and other days my brain feels like paint splattered on a canvas. I am almost a full four months into my job at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and seeing the beauty in controlled chaos has been my biggest lesson so far. Job descriptions are teasers – they give you a sneak peak into what is to come. And boy, have the last four months blown me away.

I have grown by leaps and bounds into my role as the head of the education team here in Sheboygan. I am learning to be humble, to accept mistakes as part of the growing process, and to embrace moments of success and moments that feel like failure. This past week I was lucky enough to be asked to speak at a local high school on behalf of…

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Hi all,

Many times I am asked by friends, colleagues and family how graduate school is going. My response has centered around the fact that I’m not pulling out any of my hair or curled up into a ball crying and sucking my thumb in a corner. I am having a terrific time learning about museums at a deeper level and engaging with colleagues from around the country and around the world.

Track 12 Sign from Union Terminal - Home of Cincinnati Museum Center

Track 12 Sign from Union Terminal – Home of Cincinnati Museum Center

Although it is currently all roses for me (right now) I have identified an unintended side effect. Not only am I studying what makes museums tick, I work full-time in one of the largest and most visited museums in the country – Cincinnati Museum Center. So as I am learning more and more the first thing I want to do is implement ALL THE THINGS! From a new interpretive plan for an upcoming exhibition to evaluations to young professional program piloting, I feel compelled to try to do everything RIGHT. NOW!

I want to turn what I’m learning into professional development opportunities for my staff of rockstars and my colleagues. I want to collaborate with community partners on new, innovative programs. I want to give back to the profession by leading professional development and social connections with local emerging museum professionals. I want to do it all to exhaustion.

Now I’m frustrated. There are never enough hours in the day. One cannot work full-time, rock 6 credit hours of grad school, sleep and have time for everything. I have to pace myself and we all know how much I love that. What about you? Have you had similar frustrations?