This Week’s Museum Reads: Curiosity

Museum Reads header imageAs a child, I was informed that ‘dull’ and ‘boring’ were swear words. Anything could be interesting if you looked at it long enough, asked enough questions, and any time you had free could be easily filled by more looking, listening, imagining, and investigating. (“Are we there yet?” was similarly disallowed, but “where are we?” was allowed as often as we liked, so long as we were willing to track our road trip route on a map.)  Consequently, I’ve spent my life always looking for the next new and interesting thing, and somehow I always find something.

A few interesting reads on the topic of curiosity:

Graphic made by Meg Winikates on

Graphic made by Meg Winikates on

Other Brain Popcorn posts you may enjoy:

Are you a curiosity addict?

I’ve written before about the importance of imagination and creativity, but what about that founding principle of Brain Popcorn, the irresistability of curiosity, the need to know how things work and how they connect and how one thing could also be a half dozen others?

Fortunately for those of us who are, like Einstein once declared, ‘passionately curious,’ there have been a number of articles about curiosity in the news recently.  (And not just about a certain eponymous Mars Rover, that continues to take awesome pictures even if it’s been slightly upstaged by a cousin landing on a comet this week.)

Woman Looking Over a Fence by Leon Richet.  (public domain, image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

What’s over there, anyway?  Let’s find out!  Woman Looking Over a Fence by Leon Richet. (public domain, image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

As it turns out, curiosity is not just a measurable mental itch, but it apparently works like chocolate–if only chocolate could help your memory the same way! (I certainly eat enough of it…)  I did particularly enjoy the following article, however, chocolate in hand or no: “Curiosity improves memory by tapping into the brain’s reward system”

And, of course, this article simply confirms something one of the wisest people I know says all the time, and she’s always right (because learning is ultimately better for you than chocolate):

 “The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then — to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting. Learning is the only thing for you. Look what a lot of things there are to learn.”
T.H. White, The Once and Future King

Curiosity was also the driving force behind a smartphone app that involved 4 million players, searching for the answer to ‘what’s inside the cube?’  The need to know kept people tapping their phones (and drawing, and tracking stats, and ‘purchasing’ tools) for 150 days to uncover the video message at the end.  The need to know outweighed the incredible tediousness of what would otherwise be mindless finger tapping.

How important is curiosity, really?  Consider this: according to, there are 21 synonyms for curiosity, and only 3 antonyms.  If, in this very verbal, information-heavy world, things that are important get many names, this is a good sign for curiosity.

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
Albert Einstein

(Who’s going to argue with that?  Certainly not I.)

Are you a curiosity addict?  What kinds of things to you find yourself most curious about?  Share them with us in the comments below.

You May Also Like:

Hello, My Name is Curiosity
Why Being a Nerd is Awesome


Mindboggling Museum Resources Online

Beware, curious one, for the internet hath no bottom!

Beware, curious one, for the internet hath no bottom!

It is always exciting to see what museums are up to when it comes to making their collections and expertise available regardless of geography or gate fee.  Here are a few cool resources I’ve come across recently that are great for the teacher, writer, or perpetually curious mind:

British Library – The Romantics and Victorians – Primary and secondary sources (letters, articles, films, teachers’ notes and more), and thematic explorations of 22 authors of the Romantic and Victorian periods (roughly Jane Austen through Thomas Hardy) represented in the British Library collections.  (Rather makes me want to reread AS Byatt’s Possession…)

Metropolitan Museum of Art Back Catalogue – Catalogues, bulletins, online publications, and educator resources both current and archived from previous exhibitions and collection highlights, lots with full text, etc, readable online or downloadable in PDF.  And, for that matter, the Met’s Online Collection is downright jaw-dropping too.

NPR’s new Education blog – went straight to my RSS feed the day it launched, and I’m watching where it goes with great interest!

Source sadly defunct.  If you know how to credit this image creator, please let me know!

Source sadly defunct. If you know how to credit this image creator, please let me know!

And a few perennial favorites always worth a second (or sixtieth) look:

Exploratorium Learning Tools – Their set of podcasts, teacher resources, and activities to try at home or in the classroom is always good for a delve, and the folks in the Tinkering Studio have a great maker-centric set of engineering and design projects too.

Kennedy Center’s ArtsEdge – Always a new bunch of lesson plans, and a very easy to navigate guide to the (relatively new) national arts curriculum standards, very helpful!  I for one was thrilled to see a lesson plan on Trees in Nature and Art that I can add to my resources for Branching Out.