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Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Museum celeb etiquette 101

Something curious has happened to us in the last year, dear readers. In the last 12 months, both Terri and I have (wait for it) met the Queen! Yes it's true! HRH Queen Elizabeth II herself! But the odd part is - that's not so strange in museums. While meeting the longest serving monarch in British history is pretty cool - meeting, greeting and touring celebs and other important people is kind of part of the museum deal. It might be one of the few places where plebs like you and me get to use their titles as Registrar or Curator as the cultural capital you need to meet the stars. Or, let's be honest, sometimes you are just stuck looking after days upon days of filming, waiting to get a glimpse of your favourite Hollywood actor. But the fact is, if you are a museum worker, odds are you are going to end up bumping into a celeb before long. So, drawing on our years of personal experience, here you are -  meeting celebrities in museums 101.

Kristin is pretty excited to give HRH the Queen an exhibition tour. Copyright - Getty Images.

1) Be cool. I think we must start here. The first step is just to be cool around celebrities. Whether you are the Queen or Benedict Cumberbatch, they'd appreciate you not screaming at them or stalking them down the corridors. If a celebrity finds there way into your museum, it's probably because they are themselves there for work - an opening, or research or filming. So they are acting work professional, and so should you. Or at least wait until they are out of the room before freaking out.



2) Know your stuff. In most instances, if you are being asked to meet and greet a celeb, it's because they want your specialist knowledge, whether that's of conservation or an exhibition or a certain subject matter. So to the extent you can it's a good idea to brush up - try and anticipate their questions, or maybe write yourself a little introduction. Having a general idea of what you are going to say also helps calm the nerves. Meeting a celeb is also a great moment for advocacy - lots of people may not know much about your museum or museum work generally, and here is your chance to tell a proper influencer! I know Terri personally explained what a registrar was to the Queen.


3) Stay out of the way. Really celebs are there to get a job done (or just to have a visit) so once you've had an intro or done your bit, just get out of the way and let them get on with it. Particularly important if there is filming happening at your museum - that's lots of intense work and they've got scheduled to stick to! Similarly, if you just spot someone visiting with friends and family, better to just let them be. That said...


Simon Pegg visits a Power Up at the Science Museum.

4) Read the room.
Obviously we are all in it for a selfie, but with any celeb, you've got to time your request just right. They might be in character for an intense next scene or in the middle of a piece of research. Or sometimes, they might just be bored and wanting a chat. In which case, the time is right - get that selfie! Recently had to hold back asking Lucy Worsley for a selfie, while she was very friendly, she needed to get back to work!


Tom Hanks filming Inferno at the Palazzo Vecchio 

5) Have a laugh.
For the most part, if you are asked to look after a celeb in your museum it's because they are there for a work event. So compared to the work they are there doing - your job is probably pretty cool! People love to hear stories about wacky behind the scenes things, objects you've got to touch, amazing experiences you've had in museums. Feel free to share and entertain and make them smile - it's what you are there for! That said, there's no accounting for taste. I once joked to Eddie Redmayne that I was there to keep him from stealing our stuff. Well, I thought it was funny.

6) Know your protocol. So if you do end up meeting HRH the Queen, there is some more formal protocol. You should wait to speak until addressed. Greeting the Queen takes the form of a light hand shake with a curtsy or bow (your choice!). You should address her as 'Your Majesty' in the first instance and 'Ma'am' after that. No touching of course - and just be friendly! She's just like any other museum visitors... right?!


All sounds common sense, but believe us, it can be hard to remember when Eddie Redmayne is in your museum store. Have you had a close encounter with a celebrity at work? We want to hear your story! Tweet us @curiositytweet #museumceleb 

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