Thursday, January 06, 2011

Museum Secrets: History Television Series

A Toronto-based production company has made a series that's going to premiere tonight - Museum Secrets. The premise is visiting 6 museums (i.e there will be 6 episodes) to uncover 'secrets' while there - basically an object-based discovery of 6 famous museums. I've been to 5 of the 6 (the only one i've missed is the Vatican) so i'll be especially interested to see what they'll be looking at each visit.

I do like that in recent years there's been a push to make more documentary series about (or facilitated) by museums. A couple of BBC2 TV productions come to mind especially that fall under this category; one was simply titled The Museum, and was a short series about the British Museum and their various departments, a very 'behind-the-scenes' sort of show looking at day-to-day operations and all the sorts of jobs and work people do there. When I started my temp job in the Director's office there, I was lent a copy to watch and it was a really great way to get to know the museum. The other (more recent) TV programme that the Beeb have produced is The Museum of Life - another 'behind-the-scenes' show, but it seemed more focused on the research/curatorial teams and their work rather than the entirety of the museum's departments. BBC's Radio 4 recently did a series in conjunction with the British Museum called A History of the World in 100 Objects - a pretty ambitious undertaking for a non-visual medium. However it was a thorough and interesting series (lots of info and interviews about each object and their larger world context), and they also made use of an online presence to allow people to examine the objects further (especially useful to match up a visual to the rich audio information).

It seems like Museum Secrets has a decent amount of online content, which is pretty savvy of the production team. Not only are there trailers currently, but I believe that full episodes will be available regardless of where you are in the world - a definite kudos to them for that move! I like that they have the 'object navigator' too, so you could poke around a bit more to find out extra information on things that might have piqued your interest from watching the show. I'm looking forward to seeing what sorts of people Museum Secrets will include in each episode - being object-based i'm leaning towards curators/experts etc. It should be interesting - as someone who focused their interest on material culture and museum collections at Uni, I always love things that will give me insights into museums & the sorts of objects they house. If you're in Canada you can watch on History Television, and I guess if you're elsewhere you can watch once it's up on the web! I think i'll report back when I feel like I can properly review the series.