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Saturday, 2 February 2013

Collector in Focus: The Little Mermaid

Yesterday evening we sat down to discuss our Museum Geek inspirations, of course we came up with the standard responses of Henry Wellcome, Frederick Horniman and John Hunter but these weren't people who inspired me as a little girl to collect and wonder about the world around me.

 It was Disney's Ariel The Little Mermaid who inspired me to work with collections.

Since I was a little Princess (and yes I still am a Princess) I have loved Disney films, although most of the films in the 90's were based around women waiting for their prince to come and save them from the tower/monster/controlling father. I think there is something empowering and inspirational about Ariel's curiosity and collecting, although her interest can come across as ditsy when incorrectly cataloging I think of it as mistakes that past curators have often make especially with ethnographic collections.

Thriving on curiosity
The best way to discuss Ariel's collecting habits is by critically analysing her hit song 'Part of That World'. In a dark underwater cavern (where all great collections are kept) Ariel sings to her pet fish, Flounder.  unfortunately I have never been able to take my pet to work, but like most of you  I have on occasion chosen to sing to a death mask to pass time in the stores. 

So lets look at the lyrics for this song...
(Maybe he's right. Maybe there is something the matter with me.
I just don't see how a world that makes such wonderful things could be bad.) There is nothing wrong with you Ariel, here at The Ministry of Curiosity we understand that you may feel there is something the matter with you but as previously disscussed in the blog post 'A Support Group for the Museum Stereotyped' and I often boggle about the world's ability to make beautiful things but still have bad politicians.

Look at this stuff
Isn't it neat? Your collection is awesome but 'neat' i'm not so sure, how can you apply for accreditation with what appears to be no documentation?!
Wouldn't you think my collection's complete? A Collection is never complete... ever.
Wouldn't you think I'm the girl
The girl who has everything? Yes we are all very jealous of your low cost collecting abilities. 
Look at this trove
Treasures untold Someone really needs to research this collection.
How many wonders can one cavern hold?
Looking around here you think
Sure, she's got everything
I've got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty Have these been PAC tested? I'm sure they are riddled with asbestos or other hazards!
I've got whozits and whatzits galore If you mean the crisps, get them away from the collection. Now!
You want thingamabobs?
I've got twenty! Would you consider giving some of these to a smaller Museum? 
But who cares?
No big deal
I want more Yes ever stop collecting!

I wanna be where the people are
I wanna see, wanna see them dancin'
Walking around on those - what do you call 'em?
Oh - feet!

Flippin' your fins, you don't get too far
Legs are required for jumping, dancing
Strolling along down a - what's that word again?

Up where they walk, up where they run
Up where they stay all day in the sun
Wanderin' free - wish I could be
Part of that world

Ok it's a great idea to get out of the Stores sometimes but the Sun can be damaging Ariel, and true Museum geeks like to stay in the dark with the comforts of their collection.

What would I give if I could live out of these waters?  The Collection being kept underwater is a massive problem for Conservators, who fancies cleaning the whole collection?
What would I pay to spend a day warm on the sand?
Bet'cha on land they understand
That they don't reprimand their daughters
Proper women sick of swimmin'
Ready to stand

And ready to know what the people know
Ask 'em my questions and get some answers
What's a fire and why does it - what's the word?
Burn? Instatiable curiosity <3

When's it my turn?
Wouldn't I love, love to explore that world up above?
Out of the sea
Wish I could be
Part of that world

There are some very important questions I need answered  about The Little Mermaids collection, how did she acquire them? We cannot tell from this song what she owns, are there any hazards? Human  or Mermaid remains? Her documentation is appalling  and of course there is the big problem of condition, I wouldn't fancy conserving all of those objects. Also we are unable to tell what happens to her collectionwhen the film finishes? 

 But we can't blame her for trying, her curiosity got the better of her and she bought all of her objects into one hidden space to muse, and transfer her emotions onto the collection. 

Ariel is understated in her inspiration and insatiable curiosity, I hope I can one day have a large collection of ethnographic objects like her but for now I will stick with what I have - red hair and a seashell bra.

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