One day someone will write about how (for some of us!) 20th and 21st century lives interacted with museums.I have lived for more the 40 years a 20 minute bike-ride from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, and in many ways it marks my life. It has not always been a smooth or easy ride, and I guess that there has been in some ways a bit of a stand off been me and the museum; but we end up very, very firm friends.
My first real memory goes back to 1973 when I was in my first year reading Classics. Our first 'Art and Archaeology' supervision was with the then curator of Antiquities in the museum, Dick Nicholls. He had put a group of miscellaneous classical objects in a case in the public gallery, which we -- as first years -- had to identify within a week (my discovery of Nicholls's own catalogue of classical sculpture in the Fitz helped, I confess). A decade or so later, when I had young kids, the family had a bit of a run in with the then director, who said that it was impossible to bring buggies into the museum (in case they bashed the precious furniture). And at about the same time (this is back in the 80s) I had a few troubles with the then archivist who didnt want me to see the records of museum purchases in the late 19th century (for reaons of commercial confidentiality, believe it or not).
I could go on and on. But almost all of these inciidents have ended with a happy outcome (Michael Jaffée didnt give in on the buggy, but the next director, Simon Jervis, let me loose in the archive). And I have lived happily with the Fitzwilliam ever since, almost as part of me. I'll go to my grave with Fitz's 'Rape of Lucretia' written on my heart.