Summer Museum Bingo Goes Global!
NEWS FROM NON-BORING HOUSE Play Non-Boring History's Summer Museum Bingo Where You Are . . . Or On the Other Side of the World.
How Long Is This Post? A shade over 2,000 words. About 10 minutes.
Non-Boring History Revisited
Why am I not writing about this week's headlines? For the same reason historians hesitate to research recent subjects: The story is still in process. The documents on which we rely aren't yet available. The present is for journalists, Lord love 'em.
So, what is NBH for? Once in a while, I figure it's not the worst idea to recall what we’re doing here, apart from piddling around with a nice cup of coffee. Why is this website/community/history/silly yet serious thingy called Non-Boring History? Why not give it a title that explains that our focus is US and UK history, and how they connect, translated from the original academic snoozefest writing, as well as museums that range from fabulous to dire, fun antiques, and my lengthy experience in the trenches of teaching at a university in the Deep South that did not at all resemble Hahvahd?
Well, for one thing, what I just wrote barely qualifies as a sentence, much less as a catchy title. Obvs. (UK readers: As any fule kno). And what could be more boring than a long explanation? She says with a nervous laugh, hahahahah!
Okay, sure. Academic historians are the masters of going on and on and on, and that's why journalists dread interviewing us, and tend to call other journalists instead. As you know, I'm no exception to the going on and on rule, and that's why I don't get invited to parties.
But, modesty thrown aside, I am a bit different. No laughing in the back, please.
I'm a missionary for history! For years, I've called what I do Non-Boring History. My Non-Boring History banner has been a magnet for bored attendees who wander the exhibit halls at teachers' conferences, book festivals, and the like. Like any dedicated missionary, I have zeal: I station myself facing forward with a bright smile. I lure in unsuspecting passersby with bookmarks, logo pens, and (admittedly not free) copies of my quirky historical time-travel novels. I then buttonhole those who make the mistake of approaching me, preaching joyful engagement with the past in the present. Hallelujah! Lucky them!
So Non-Boring History was the first title that came to mind when I decided last year, in a mad impulsive moment, to sign up to write a Substack newsletter.
As we careen around historical subjects, driven by me in Mr. Toad mode (Poop poop!) themes are nonetheless emerging blinking into the sunlight. Many themes I never see coming, like traffic signals, but they do, because the world keeps changing, historians keep writing (even as university administrators are having them carried out to the curb to make room for more ninny bureaucrats), and I keep reading.
For those of us who can stand reading academic history, it's a gold mine full of WTF nuggets buried in huge heaps of tortured prose. For those who can't, I gamely dig out those WTF nuggets, give them a good shine, and present them for your perusal.
What I can tell you is that NBH is about historical thinking. That's because your guide is a historian, yelling Poop Poop! while my fellow historians, like Badger, look on through their fingers, shaking their heads.
Why do I do this instead of just, you know, being a professor? Lots of answers. Here’s one, and I’ll make it into a story to try to explain (that’s what historians do):
Many, many moons ago, I was educated in England, and was very lucky to be taught history by two extraordinary men at my minimally posh girls' school, a non-selective public institution in a mostly working class town, full of ex-Londoners, just like the people in Call the Midwife (UK readers: It was a grammar -turned-comprehensive in Stevenage, enough said).
My early history education was joyous. We made no attempt to study “everything” in British history. Classes were about increasingly complicated stories of mostly political history, about kings, queens, and prime ministers, and laws and debates. No doubt, we left out a lot. Getting specific, though, was very revealing. Learning about British blunders in the American War of Independence, for example, was a hilarious introduction to the Monty Python shambles that was the British Empire.
From drawing pictures of Anglo-Saxons and labeling their clothes at age 10 (which I clearly recall making me realize historical change in a sudden blinding flash of enlightenment, possibly with dramatic music), to tackling actual historians' books at age 16 for our class’s concentrated study of Chartism, an early movement toward democracy in Britain (a study in how mass protests can succeed even when they fail, by scaring the people in charge), I fell in love with history, not so much facts, as with how it makes us think.
I've been using and applying and teaching that education all my life, a life spent mainly in unfashionable parts of America that nobody educated or sane aspires to live in (sorry if you do, my bad) , and, for the past twenty years, I have mostly spent my time sharing my passion for history (the way of thinking, not just the facty stuff) with people of all ages, not just college students who wished I would shut up and hand them the degree they paid for. That, there, is the biggest difference between me and most other academic historians: I quit my job, and proceeded to spend a lot of time in schools, museums, and, honestly, anywhere that will have me. Which is, in retrospect, insane. But here we are.
So I'm at Non-Boring History on Substack to tempt you to discover what historical thinking is, and how it actually is a joyful thing. Okay, mostly joyful. Well, OK, at least a Non-Boring thing. And no, there’s no shortcut or formula or quick guide to learning it. We just kind of have to absorb by osmosis (that’s a science reference! Ooh, look at me). Honestly? Doing it that way is a lot more fun for us all, and a hell of a lot more entertaining than Coach Grunt and his worksheets in high school.
I know that, because I was “taught” by Coach Grunt as a high school exchange student in California, or at least I was until I ran away (silently screaming) from the class. The kindly vice principal finally stopped me, laughing, to offer help after he saw me frantically circle the building for the third time. True story.
This as close as I get to a mission statement. I hate those bloody things.
Summer Museum Bingo with Nonnie Aingeal!
Today, I’m delighted to introduce you to Aingeal Stone, a Nonnie who is playing Non-Boring History’s Summer Museum Bingo, and who recently visited some amazing historical places, including Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem (above)
Aingeal’s other great photos are in the bonus section at the end of the post, which is exclusively for Nonnies, paid subscribers. Summer Museum Bingo can be played by anyone. And, no, you don't need to go to Jerusalem to play. Learn about Summer Museum Bingo, below.
But first, a word from the Membership Gnomes at Non-Boring House.
Non-Boring History Summer Sale Super Special PLUS Free Guide to Museum Enjoyology* for Paid Subscribers! LIMITED TIME OFFER!
Non-Boring History doesn't do its magic as random emails. NBH is a web site, a newsletter, a colorful tour through US and UK history (and where the two meet) for Nonnies, the diverse community of NBH folk in US, UK, and around the world. It's not a cult, because historians aren't very good at leading cults: They keep pointing out how little they know.
Not a Nonnie yet? Join us! Sign up for an annual subscription today, and get 20% off. PLUS you’ll receive a FREE pdf of Annette’s NBH Guide to Museum Enjoyology* with your paid subscription. Ten pages of practical advice and inspiration for enjoying museums, no matter whether they are world class, bloody awful, or somewhere in between!
*Enjoyology is not actually a word.
Check out your options by clicking this blue button. But hurry: This offer vanishes into the mists of time sooner than you think.
Can't afford Nonniedom right now? Been reading NBH for while, as you can? Hit reply and let me know. My goal isn't to get rich. The goal is so I can keep writing, and the Gnomes get fed occasionally. I’m keen to hear from longtime highly engaged readers for whom a paid subscription would be a hardship. Just give me a shout, though, because I can’t help if I don’t know. Some kind Nonnies are helping sponsor paid subscriptions, in the spirit of sharing that NBH is all about.
And if you're a Nonnie with money to spare, and want to support NBH in supporting needy Nonnies:
2022 NBH Summer Museum Bingo is Afoot!
Anyone can play, including folks still sitting on the fence about joining us as paid subscribers, but Nonnies who complete a row get an entry into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate for the bookstore of your choice! Complete the whole card, Nonnies, and you get three entries.
The great thing, in these inflationary and tricky times for travel? Almost anyone can play Summer Museum Bingo without spending money, even if you only visit museums/historic houses/historic sites that don’t charge admission in your own town, and skip the gift shop. Which I know is hard.
Here’s the card. All the details are here on the original post:
If the prize for Summer Museum Bingo were given to the Nonnie who ventures farthest afield in search of a museum (it’s not), then that prize would surely have already been won by Nonnie Aingeal Stone. But it’s not (sorry, Aingeal). Yes, everyone gets a chance to play, and all Nonnies get a chance to win!
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Non-Boring History to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.