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Art Institutions Share Secrets to Kick Off #MuseumWeek

Adolf Hering, "The Sweet Secret" (1892) (image <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ein_s%C3%BC%C3%9Fes_Geheimnis_von_Adolf_Hering,_1892.jpg" target="_blank">via Wikipedia</a>)
Adolf Hering, “The Sweet Secret” (1892) (image via Wikipedia)

Yesterday marked the beginning of Museum Week, an annual social media campaign that gives museums around the world the opportunity to engage with the public in a number of ways. Each day, institutions post things in their social media channels corresponding to a specific theme; Monday’s theme, as last year, was #secretsMW, allowing institutions to share secrets related to their collections and histories, and some of which were actually very revealing.

It happens that while you’re roaming galleries, you may actually be walking by some amazing artworks that are hidden in plain sight — you just have to know where to find them. Installed near the Museum of Modern Art’s bookstore, for instance, is a plaque by Jenny Holzer spelling out cryptic advice rather than rigid rules. Much more subtle is one mysterious fossil embedded in the floor of the US National Archives that blends in with the marble. And the next time you’re at the Guggenheim, be sure to pay a visit to a relic from the past in the building’s main lobby, situated near the restaurant.

Unfortunately, some permanent works are concealed from the public, such as the Guggenheim’s hidden Miró mural and intricate carvings tucked away above the Chateau de Versailles’s famed mirrored hall:

Many museums also took to posting photographs of spaces inaccessible to the public. Images of archives give us a chance to glimpse objects rarely seen by the public while revealing how museum staff care for these stored artifacts and specimens. Other pictures spotlighted insider views, including the backstage area of Shakespeare’s Globe theater.

Other behind-the-scenes images show how museums choose to operate or present themselves. London’s National Portrait Gallery is incredibly dedicated to dusting its ornate frames, for instance; North Carolina’s Museum of Natural Sciences gets its large displays squeaky clean with a simple Swiffer. And those walls at the High Museum aren’t painted just any old shade of white.

There are, of course, some fascinating historical tidbits we may have forgotten:

And while most museums may not allow pets to roam their collections, they’re often home to a number of animals — from mascots of sorts to pests:

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