I have been thinking this past week about what makes a collection. This question was sparked because our Museum Educator, Stephany, is putting together some exciting do-it-yourself ideas for families, and she asked us to send examples of something we would put into a collection about ourselves. While I thought for a while about what my most meaningful items were, I happened to look over and notice my little bag I carry around with me everywhere.
In my little Feminist titled bag, I keep everything that I have deemed essential for everyday use, as well as things I may need in a mini emergency. I have learned the hard way that not having some of these items makes me less prepared for my day. I keep Advil, blister balm, and Band-aids for the unexpected injury or headache, as well as a Benadryl stick for my inevitable bug bites. I carry around my air pods to listen to podcasts while I commute, and hair ties and bobby pins in case I need to fix my hair. Long hot days in the DC summer heat have taught me that I need to carry around mini deodorant and a rose water facial spray to refresh.
For little problems, I always have my nail file, eye wetting drops, and hand cream. Of course I carry around a charger cable for my phone, and my office keys. Like any girly-girl, I have more than a few varieties of lip balm and lip gloss. You never know!
But what does this collection tell you about me? I try to be prepared, even if I only use something from the bag once a year or less. Those times when I need the blister balm, it will be very important! I like to think that these items all tell a story about me. What I do everyday, what I deem to be essential, and what makes me comfortable and happy. Isn’t that what a collection is? Museums aim to teach visitors. And to me there is no better way to teach than to show how “ordinary” people live, to make things relatable to everyone. What better way to connect and illustrate that we have things in common, and to show how even everyday, mundane seeming objects can be museum worthy?