Design Museums and Firearms: It’s Time We Had “The Talk”

Barbara Eldredge from D-Crit on Vimeo.

Come to Eventually Everything: The 2012 D-Crit Conference on Wednesday, May 2nd and watch me talk about guns, design museums, and morality.


Its a MAD world…

I could tell you about so many things about the Museum of Arts and Design— I could describe the 2008 controversy surrounding the redesign of its building, the fascinating objects currently on display in its exhibition The Global Africa Project, or reveal the identity of the designer in residence I discovered hiding out on the sixth floor. But I don’t want to tell you about any of these things. What I really want to talk about is Gillie.

Oh, Gillie with her studded boots and skinny trousers, her short spiked hair and single earring dangling from the lobe of her left ear like a vial of kickass, the utter grace and propriety of her British accent tempering a fashion sensibility so solidly rooted in punk. Gillie, who gathered us mere patrons like a shepherd gathering sheep near the painted BMW in the MAD’s lobby. It was she who guided us through the museum’s many floors, she who noted the preponderance of her preferred objects (chandeliers and cars) and she who asked insightful rhetorical questions of the group.

In the elevator on our way to the 6th floor, she asked the motley members of The Highlights Tour where we were from—Amsterdam, Chile, Kentucky, Boston, New York— and continued to reference this information throughout the museum, seeking our various perspectives. When one of the Kentucky women asked if the title of one piece was a derogatory reference to those of Chinese heritage (although stated somewhat less delicately), Gillie dodged the trap with a graceful “I don’t know. What does everyone else think?”

As we moved from floor to floor, Gillie attracted more museum patrons like a pied piper playing the flute of design insight. When a family joined the group, she singled out the kids in a respectful non-condescending way and asked them questions about what they saw, planting the seeds of what will surely bloom into a lifelong love of design.

Gillie, with the power vested in me by the authority of Museummongerdom, I hereby declare you THE BEST FRIGGIN DOCENT EVER.

Thanks, Gillie, for making my museum experience awesome.