Should museums charge for enquiries?


As a museum curator I get a huge variety of enquiries from members of the public. My most popular is the ‘meteorite’ enquiry; in 7 years, I have only ever seen one real meteorite. (99% of the time the‘meteorite’ is unquestionably waste from smelt works, wonderfully called ‘slag’.) The most interesting enquiry I’ve had so far was a leopard tooth, subsequently donated to the museum and is currently undergoing some pretty awesome research. I have had plenty of funny enquiries, including a person who saw faces in her ‘crystals’ (there were no faces, nor were there crystals, just pebbles picked up from the road). The funniest has to be an email sent into me for a bird identification: no photo, just a wonderful description of the bird; “It had black feathers. As it flew, it made a ka ka karr kar noise. It never flew higher than 4 metres above the…

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