Oral History of Museum Computing: Chuck Patch
This Oral History of Museum Computing is provided by Chuck Patch, and was recorded on the 16th of April, 2021, by Paul Marty and Kathy Jones. It is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (CC-BY), which allows for unrestricted reuse provided that appropriate credit is given to the original source. For the recording of this oral history, please see https://youtu.be/89pa9MiquvE.
So, I’ll start at the beginning. I actually started working in museums when I was in my mid 20s, mid to late 20s. I worked at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in the Film and Sound Archives for an incredible guy named George Talbot, who was kind of a wild man. I mean, he had this house that was just like so cramped with junk that when we went over there one time, the phone rang, and I found like four phones before I found one that was actually attached to a line. But anyway, I went from there to Washington, D.C, where I, as always, followed my wife wherever she got work because she was always the real earner in the family. We’ve all been in the museum business for a long time, so we know that it really helps to have a spouse who can bring in an income. [Laughs.]
The… so, when I was in D.C., I got work as a picture researcher, which is something that you, that almost doesn’t exist as a profession anymore, but basically publishing companies would hire me to go around to the various archives in the city where all the stuff was public domain, and find illustrations for textbooks and magazines and so forth, and I got really interested in keeping track of this stuff with, with a computer database, back then, because it was just so hard to keep… we had paper files and things that we had found in in the archives at the Library of Congress or, or at the Smithsonian, or at the National Archives and so forth, but the company that I worked for, and it was very rare in that it was a company, bought one of the first PCs. It was actually a CP/M machine with a huge, one-megabyte hard disk, which was almost unheard of in those days, and we got a small database management system, and I got really interested in that, and started setting up indexes of all the stuff that we had found for various clients around town.
And while that was going on, there was a meeting of the… what was it, the Picture Professionals — [The American Society of Picture Professionals, or ASPP] whatever it was — the group that did that. And it was a meeting of people from LC and from the Smithsonian, and a special guest, who was Lenore Sarasan, who had a company called Willoughby Incorporated, in Illinois, and they were doing a job for the Historic New Orleans Collection, which I had never heard of in my life, but they were creating this collections management system, and it sounded really interesting, and I thought, this is very cool. [I] didn’t think about it again, and then about a year later, my wife got a job as a professor at the LSU Medical School in New Orleans and we moved down there. And while she was interviewing, I went and applied for a job at the Historic New Orleans Collection and told them how cool I thought what they were doing was and everything, and didn’t hear from them again, and that was the end of it. And I worked for a year as a photo librarian at a giant oil rig manufacturing company called McDermott Inc., which was also very cool, because they had an 800,000-slide library of the… pretty much covered the entire history of the oil, offshore oil industry and I also thought, man, that’s an archive that somebody needs to get hold of because it’s just amazing.
But a year later, I got a letter that was forwarded from my old address in D.C. to where we lived in New Orleans, and I interviewed for this job at the Historic Collection, and I was there for the next 21 years. So, I started as a Systems Manager for an HP 3000 minicomputer system, and I was basically locked into a frigid attic with this machine, giant machine, seemed like a giant machine.
It had a 20-megabyte hard drive that was about the size of a small dishwasher, actually a regular size dishwasher, now that I think of it, and I would routinely get locked into the building by accident because they didn’t have guards and they would always close at 5:00 on the dot, and I was doing backups on reel to reel tapes, and I had to wait until they finished, and I would end up there, where I’d have to call the, the building manager and they’d have to come and rescue me, otherwise I’d set off every alarm in the city. And eventually, after trying to get the hell out of Dodge for a long time, because it was clear that I was never going to advance in the ranks, I, and I, you know, got offered a great job running the, the Systems Department, the automation department for the Canadian Centre for Architecture.
I got another offer to — oh, this is my favorite — I got an offer to set up an archives department or division for American Girl, the doll manufacturer, in Madison, Wisconsin, but we couldn’t ever do it because one of the things I’ve learned about living with an academic is that they have timelines that are just not the same as any other industry. Yes, it’s like a year in advance they have to figure things out, and so, in the case of the CCA — I’m really wandering. I’m sorry I’m going all over the place here. In the case of the CCA, I dangled them along for something like six months, and I just felt really terrible about that. And after that experience and then the one with American Girl, where I couldn’t actually take that job either, we just settled in.
And lo and behold, my boss at the Collection ended up leaving town. She, she was married. Her husband got a job somewhere else. They moved on. I was promoted, and I became the Director of Systems there. And we were using this Willoughby System for years, and here’s where we started actually dealing with museum automation, because really early on, really late ‘80s, I got really obsessed with the idea of integrating museum, library, and archival information because we had three divisions in this very tiny museum. There were, you know, total staff of maybe 60 people, and the library wanted to get software, the archives division wanted to get software, and I was damned if I was going to buy three different systems for this place, when we were all basically in successive rooms or buildings.
You know, how ridiculous was that that we would have three completely separate divisions dealing with the same types of information, essentially, or same types of material, I should say. You know, well, the same subject. Let’s, let’s narrow it down there. The same subject, the history of the city and the Gulf South in general, and yet we were requiring researchers to trek from one place to another to get any information when we had it all there. And that’s when I started realizing the incredible weird, sociological, cultural, and professional differences that exists between the three different mindsets. And we tried for years to cram library and archival information into the MINISIS system. Or was it… gosh, I can’t believe that I can’t remember the name of the system that I used for all those years. It was it was based on a database management system [note: the DBMS was MINISIS] Quixis, that’s it. Anyway, we, we tried for years to do this with this system, and it was just very, very hard to do, and we began to look around for systems that they could integrate this data, and there simply weren’t any. And it’s just fascinating to me how, in the last 15 years, it has become a routine thing for people to approach the integration of this data, because back in the early ‘90s and mid ‘90s, there was hardly anyone who was actually interested in doing this, not in the museum field anyway. I mean, you had, you had some people in the library community who were interested in doing this for sure. But the general attitude you got from museum folks, even at MCN, was “Why would you want to do this?”
[Jones]: Who has been successful with that in the last 15 years? Or it is, is it just that we understand that we should, and we want to?
We should, and we want to. I think the Tate did a fantastic job. I’d seen it… I should preface my answer this by saying that, since coming to Baltimore in 2007, I’ve not dealt with this too much. It’s, I’ve been much more involved in teaching and integration of non-structured data in museums. So it’s… but I don’t — the truth is that, at the highest level museums, the, the really large, advanced museums, you do see this kind of integration going on more successfully, especially at universities, where they have a kind of a backbench of technology experts who can help out. But in smaller museums, people are still talking about this as if it’s a kind of Holy Grail, which is just sort of frustrating, because what has it been now? Like 35 years, something like that? Thirty years at least? That, what, since I started worrying about it. I mean, I just did a job for — just; a year ago — my very last job as a consultant, we did a project for the Milwaukee Art Museum, and you know, they were really interested in integrating their systems, and you know, didn’t know how it could be done. Anyway, where was I?
[Marty]: Well, suffice to say it’s an incredibly difficult thing to do, and as you said earlier… it’s not just the technology, it’s that the mindset is completely different…
And, and yeah, it is. So that was the thing that that I gradually came to understand, and that’s what we concentrated on. Because it wasn’t, it wasn’t a technology problem. And it and it wasn’t even a mindset so much as an approach, you know, so… So I’m sorry. I’m sure you’ve heard what I’m going to say before, because it was like a mantra I always preached at every stupid talk I gave it at MCN for like, forever. But you know it’s the way they think, and museums think in terms of objects, archivists think in terms of collections, and librarians think in terms of titles, and those have incredibly subtle ramifications for how you approach an information system.
You know, the best example of this was when we had tried to get our system to incorporate library items, and you know, you, you type in the title “Roots,” and like 25 records come up, right? You know, not exactly the ideal. I mean this is a museum system, so it’s going to count every damn object, and the library system would have just told us that there were 25 copies available, and we ended up writing the world’s longest Request For Proposal in the late ‘90s, and sent it out to everybody, and much to our amazement, the only company that really came through with a solid proposal was the same group that had built, it had created the database management system that was used for Quixis, which was the MINISIS INC. And they had a, they had a sort of I would call it relational, but it’s like pre-relational theory relational database technology. [Or rather] It’s pre-SQL relational technology. That’s the best way to describe it. You could create relations in their database management system, but it had nothing to do with the kind of SQL language that, that post-dated…
Anyway, it’s the reason that it has never caught on and never become very popular because it’s difficult to integrate, but they had three different systems that dealt with archives and libraries and museums. Their archival system in particular was really advanced, and it was used by the Canadian National Archives. They had a pretty solid library system, and they were very happy to see if we could integrate those systems. And we spent three or four years developing it, and it went up on… in 2001, and they are still running it. And, and even today, if you, I can still show that system to people at museums around the country, and they are still amazed that you can type in a query, and you get back everything from the library and the museum and the archive.
Yeah, but the thing that I was going to say that, about that non-technological aspect of, that the problem is that we ended up having to completely restructure our organization in order to accommodate that approach to, to integrating the data because it turns out that, you know, if you give something to a librarian, they’re going to classify it like it was a book, and if you give something to an archivist they’re not going to pick out necessarily the individual objects, and so forth. I mean, another classic example that we found was a handmade artist book that was acquired by our museum division. And there were 75 records for it in the collections management system, and not one of them indicated that it was a book. They were for each individual pages within the book, and we thought [lifting arms to touch forehead in frustration] you know, “Oh my God! What is wrong with these people?”
But that, you know, we were able to set up a system that is still in place, where we have a catalog division, and we — I should say, I haven’t worked in this place in 13 years — but they had a place, they had a division, a cataloging division in that museum that was independent of any department, which was very unusual for a museum. And they would get material that was submitted by the individual curators, and they would look at it and decide how it should be classified: Should it be classified as a bibliographic object or a museum object or an archival collection? And, they have the option to do it every way they want to, because you can more or less mix and match the classification, so that’s been working really well. And the other thing that was, that I really… one thing that I’m actually kind of proud of, in that work at that institution, was that I had to find people who could help me do the analysis for integrating all those different systems, and so my very first hire as Director of Systems was Leslie Johnston, who went on to become — hey! — the Director of Digital Preservation at the National Archives. So, you know what? We did good. Yeah, the person who came after her is a professor of architectural history at the University of Texas, you know, so…
Leslie created our very first data dictionary, which was something that was desperately needed, where she just went to every department, talked to every person. It took her six months to create this thing. It described in great detail every single field and category that was used, and that became the basis of everything we did from them on.
So yeah, there’s, there’s my horn tooting. Let’s see. What else? Katherine wanted to hear about our disaster preparedness stuff, so yeah, so Okay. We actually did have a disaster preparedness plan. I was lying before. You have to! You live in New Orleans, you know, every summer is really exciting. And we… and we, we were prepared for [Hurricane] Katrina when that came along. You know, everybody has their routine. We, you know, locked everything down. We had… we actually boarded up windows. We had, you know, in our library, we have on top of every stack and shelving unit, there’s actually a roll of Visqueen that the staff can just pull down over the fronts of it. You know, all kinds of stuff like this.
What it turns out that we weren’t prepared for was continuity issues, because you, you know, yeah, the disaster came. The storm came. The flood came all that went, but then the city was shut down, and nobody could get in there. And you know, how are you going to run this organization remotely? That’s basically what happened. So that’s where we were, we ended up doing a lot of stuff kind of ad hoc, and, and we did get help from, actually, our vendors in this regard, but one… among other things, we had to figure out where everybody went, because we had this incredible diaspora. We had at one point, our staff — and again our staff was 65 people, 70 people at that point — they were in 38 different states. And so, when I was in a motel in Mississippi, I remember setting up a Google Group for our staff on the first night out of town, and that grew into a kind of elaborate web page where we could track where everybody was going, and where everybody was. We set up announcements pages. You know, we had to get information out to the staff. I had actually at one point, one thing that I remember that was really terrible was that we had a [Network Attached Storage] disk system. A RAID system that held all of our digital images, and we had left that behind, of course. So we sent in one of our people to grab that, literally pick it up and carry it out of town. At one point, and maybe it was in, I think, October of 2005, we actually set up a whole network system at one of the staff member’s houses in northern Louisiana, and ran our network out of there to get that working. [Actually, just across Lake Ponchartrain].
Oh, and my favorite thing was my — I don’t know what you call him, engineer? Technician? – my, you know, my first, or second in command, he took the, our entire set of networking equipment with him to Texas and set up there to… and got the whole network up and running in a spare room and in a friend’s house, and the very night that he got that thing set up, Hurricane Rita pulled in, and he had to get out of, he had to get out of Dodge there. Load up the whole thing and leave again. Anyway, so that went on for… yes, do you have a question?
[Jones]: Yeah, I just remembered it as being a very brilliant distributed way to communicate with each other, and to check in and make sure everybody was safe. So I have to say, Chuck, I’ve used things like that whenever I had to do disaster planning that would involve being off-site, so…
[Jones]: We thought about H1N1 or any of the other things like that, where we thought we couldn’t be on campus or have a server room, so thank you.
[Jones]: That was, that was brilliant.
It was total seat-of-the-pants, and, and one of the things that was… one of the really important weird lessons that I learned when we were doing this is that … is that the incredible importance of constant communication, not just you know, communication in general, just routine communication. Our Director was very reluctant to post anything on our system when she didn’t have actual news. And I went back and forth with her about this all the time, you know, just saying, “I don’t care what you say. You know, say that the weather is really nice, but the important thing is just to constantly be providing a stream of communication to demonstrate that the line is open, and that, you know, things are functioning. And that there’s a certain level of normality” because that’s so important for.. so important for morale, because people were really depressed.
And the other thing that that we kind of went back and forth about a lot is that she was very upset about… certain things that were appearing on our Google Group, where there were complaints and so that she didn’t want to hear, and didn’t think that those things were should be posted, and my take on that was that it was really important for people to (A) have somewhere to let off steam or express frustration, and (B) to know about it, because if it’s you know appearing in a, in a private, but staff only place that other people can see it, it let you as a leader now what was going on in people’s minds and give you an opportunity to respond to it. So I think eventually, that did work out and she did understand that better, but it was a very difficult period, and I would have to say, completely altered my life because indirectly, it ended up with me leaving the city, just because the whole city…. We as, as you imagine, was kind of a mess for at least two years, three years after that storm, and, by the way, that’s the way everyone refers to it, “the storm,” it’s never referred to by name.
But what happened is that that my wife was working at LSU, and they did a terrible, terrible job of doing the recovery and they kind of shafted their faculty, in ways that were, you know, of very questionable ethics. And she was really desperate to get out of town, so as a result, she got a position at the University of Maryland Medical School here in Baltimore, and I followed, of course. So that’s how I ended up up here, but that was a big change, because that was not something I was planning for or working toward, or anything else, it was sort of like jumping off a cliff and hoping I would land somewhere.
And you know, when I first got up here, I got a two-year – well, year and a half-long-appointment at the National Gallery of Art, where I did something completely different that I had no clue how to do, which was to develop specs for a conservation documentation system for the conservation department at the National Gallery, which was kind of intimidating because it’s… so you know, I’m just, I’m not like you know, I’m not Len Steinbach. I’m, I’m a very mild-mannered guy. I’ve been working in a small southern institution for over two decades, where you know, there is no concept of meritocracy. It’s basically how to be a nice person, and you will advance, and so forth. And suddenly I’m in this institution that is incredibly bureaucratic. That has over 1,000 employees. That, you know, the conservation division alone was roughly the size of my entire previous institution. And so, that was, that was kind of interesting, but we did well.
I learned a lot, and boy, it is so cool to walk back in a conservation studio and see these masterpieces of Western Art just lying on the table, you know, where you can walk up and look at them. But I worked there for a couple years — for about a year — doing the conservation stuff, and they really liked the, the report that we did. It… this was done for the Mellon, and at the same time, I was also starting to work on the conservation space project for, for the Mellon.
And then I took on another job working with a guy named Neil Johnston, who is now… Where is he? Is it Crystal Bridges [Museum of American Art], I think… who also got involved in the whole linked open data field as well, but we were tasked with figuring out a way to integrate curatorial data across all divisions, and deal with the masses of unstructured data that they were dealing with. And that was again, I think, where I stuck my foot in a hornet’s nest, and basically wrecked everything for about [laughs] … for about six months. It was just… They had at the time, there was the archivist there… Oh gosh! I am totally forgetting her name. I can’t believe I can’t remember her name! [Maygene Daniels] She’s an incredibly smart, wonderful person. She kind of invented the whole field of museum archiving, and I went to her and said, “Hey, you know, we want to integrate all this data from the curatorial divisions, and you know, you had some really good ideas about this, and I thought you know you might want to help me out with this.” And it turns out that she did, and she had proposed many solutions over the previous five or six years, and that they had all been shot down because it was the archives division, and they didn’t think that was important. And when she found out that I had been hired to come up with a set of recommendations for what they should do, she was furious, and basically stopped the project in its tracks for about three months. And so, when we got going again, it was really kind of touchy, and you know, didn’t really advance very far.
So I ended up out of there, and after that I’ve just been doing sporadic consulting from, you know, from about 2010 on, and taught at Johns Hopkins at Phyllis Hecht’s museum studies program online and, you know, I don’t know. That’s where I ended up to the at the point where last year, I’ve been teaching online, and it’s, and it’s not like being in person with people. And particularly the way they do it through that program, which is totally asynchronous. I mean we cannot require students to be online at the same time, so everything is done through, through email or posts on Blackboard and the lectures are all prerecorded, and so forth. And I got to the point where I was thinking this isn’t fun. So last year, I said, “I’m done.” You know, I’m an old, I’m officially old now so I’m going to… I’m not retiring, I’m just quitting. So anyway, I didn’t even use… So where are we? Do you guys have any questions? I mean, should I talk more about anything in particular, or museum digitization, which I did a little bit of?
[Marty]: Do you want to say anything about when you all hosted MCN in 1986, and what that was like? Meeting that…
Oh sure. Well I can’t … you know I had… so the MCN meeting in ‘86 was my first year working in a museum in an official capacity. And I had only been there for about five months at that point, and my boss was the local host, Roseanne McCaffery, later Roseanne Mackie, and it was really interesting to me because it was the first time I’d really encountered anybody who is doing [anything] in this field at all. And you know, you have to understand at that point, there were just a handful of museums who had automated anything, and we were probably at this point, the only history museum in the country that had a system up and running that was for collections management. I may be wrong about that, but it can’t have been more than, you know, a half dozen total around the country. So, yes, we had the MCN, and it was a period of time when the MCN was transitioning from its early phases, where it was basically the brainchild of — help me here — David…. I can’t read lips…
[Jones:] David Vance.
Yes, David Vance! And I think he was there.
[Jones:] Yeah, he would have been there.
Yeah, so that was the first year, and it was… the entire group fit into one modestly sized banquet room at a hotel in the French Quarter. There may have been, you know, there couldn’t have been more than 50 people in attendance, maybe 60. But they didn’t even fill up the room, and the big, the big innovation for that year was an exhibitors’ space, and this was a, maybe … I don’t know, 200 square foot area, in the back of the room where pretty much every vendor that dealt with museum automation was showing their stuff, so that there were… that was maybe five or six people. Five or six groups that had systems set up, and of course it was all database stuff. There was there was virtually no image stuff going on. In fact, that was the, that was the fun thing when Alan Newman, who was there, who, I always like to make fun of him these days, because he looked like he was about 15, but he, he showed up with his Mac, which was already, you know, like really exotic in 1986, and he had images on it. And he was showing these nice color images that he had on a database that was running on a separate drive, and you know you almost had to beat your way through the crowd to get to his table to see what he was doing. That was when, at the same meeting, that was when Howard Besser presented his famous T-shirt collection… He had a digital database that documented all of his T-shirts. And I think at that point he was still a grad student, so it was a big… and of course, he was wearing his T-shirt.
[Jones]: …with metadata in the database too.
That’s right! That’s right. So that was a real eye opener for me for sure. And you know the rest of the year… so the MCN, you know, as you know, went through lots and lots of transitions over that period, and the interesting thing was how, to me, you know the MCN would come up with some… would start dwelling on some major topic, and then it would be, that would be peeled off by some other group that would steal the thunder, then we were left trying to keep our audience, which went on really all through the ‘90s, with the, you know, the whole optical disc thing that was huge for a few years, CDs and optical discs, and so forth, and then the web came along, and Museums and the Web basically started up as a counter to that, and ran off with a lot of stuff. That’s where of course I met Sam Quigley at MCN, and then I guess, the other you know major thing that I was involved in with that group of course the, the debacle and, gosh, when was that, 2001… when I was president? It was a long time ago, was like 2004, 2002, maybe? I can’t even remember, this is terrible. I should have done my homework before we had this thing.
Anyway, we had had this meeting in Toronto [in 2002], and we had hired this management company that looked really, really good on paper, but turned out that they were incredibly irresponsible, and had made all kinds of horrible arrangements with the hotel that we were staying at, and they did this twice. They did this once in Las Vegas. We had a meeting in Las Vegas [in 2000] that we had — I think we were staying at the Four Seasons and, and we had, you know, these lavish lunches and meetings and stuff like that, and everyone was saying, “Oh, this is great, you know, this is so much fun.” And it turned out, we ended the meeting up to our keisters in debt, and we went into the next meeting in Toronto the next year, and they had worked out a deal with the hotel, where it was actually more expensive for people attending the meeting to get a room than it was for people who just walked in off the street. And that word spread really fast, and so, most of our, most of our attendees did not register as members of the meeting, so we took a terrible bath on that, and I think we came out of that meeting, something like $150,000 in debt, and that was the year I was president. [Laughs.]
And so, for the next year we were, I was actually getting calls from collection agencies about once a week, which I would artfully try to avoid by looking at the Caller ID to see where it was coming from. And while we were just scrambling to figure out how to survive, and that’s when, you know, most of our membership, remembering this incredibly lavish meeting in Las Vegas, they had voted that they will, if there was one city they wanted to go back to [for the meeting] it was Las Vegas. So, we ended up booking a hotel in Las Vegas [in 2003] and we, you know, weren’t going to get the number of people coming that was going to save us. We couldn’t afford, we couldn’t raise the hotel block high enough to actually offset any of our costs, and so I went to… now I’m trying to… See? This is my senility setting in, but the, the Northeast Document… the Northeast Document Conservation Center, and they ran the school for scanning, and they were also starting up a new workshop that dealt with digitization, and so I got in touch with them, and sweet-talked them somehow or another into holding a joint meeting, so that they could bring… so that we could share the block, and think that they would bring in a group of people, and we gave anybody who attended their meeting half price registration at our meeting. The person who really deserves credit for pulling that meeting off is Marla Misunas, who is just a phenomenal organizer.
But that kind of saved our bacon. We — oh, and we, we emphasized, for that meeting, because you know, the web stuff wasn’t working for us. Everybody who was interested in web stuff was going to Museums and the Web, so we really concentrated on back-end technology and the, you know, the hardcore stuff, hoping we could attract more technologically-minded people who wouldn’t have found Museums and the Web as interesting. And all that somehow seemed to work. And we were at this wonderfully sleazy hotel. I cannot remember what it was called, but it had, it had the Crazy Girls. That was that was their thing. Their big, big act was where these scantily clad women who would come out and do some, some weird thing on stage, and they had a kind of bronze frieze on the outside of the hotel I remember…
You were there, Paul?
[Marty]: Yeah, I was there, it was the Riviera Hotel and Casino.
The Riviera! Yes, yes, yes!
[Marty]: Well, not to, not to interrupt for more than a second, but I was at the 2000, and I was also at the 2003, so I was one of those people at the 2003 and I was like, “Oh, wait a minute! The last time we were here, we were at the Four Seasons! I wonder what happened.”
[Laughing.] Yeah! Exactly.
[Jones]: And in that hotel, they didn’t have, the light bulbs were like 30 watts or something so you couldn’t see how bad it was in the room.
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I do remember that the, the frieze, the bronze frieze on the outside of the building was, was rubbed very shiny on the bottoms of the portrayed dancers, that was… [laughs].
[Marty]: I just put in the chat, Chuck, I don’t know if it was Marla or whoever, how they described it in the conference program. Because of course remember as part of the 50th anniversary for MCN, I collected all the previous conference programs into one location.
[Marty]: I may be the only person in the world that has all the conference programs for every MCN conference.
I think you are.
[Marty]: And anyway, so yeah, I just pulled it up. And that’s what, that’s what Marla or somebody wrote: “One of Las Vegas’s most prestigious landmarks, conveniently located near many interesting attractions. It promises to be a memorable venue.”
[Cracking up.] Oh Marla! Yes, so, that was that was really fun, and you know, that that was the year that we went to see, Len Steinbach and I went to see Roy and… Siegfried and Roy in what must have been one of their final performances, because I think like a year later, he was mauled by a tiger. Anyway, so that, that was a, that whole thing was just amazing, amazingly trying to get through that period of about three or four years with the MCN. So it was just amazing to me the way it’s come kind of come back roaring in the past few years, and it’s kind of gratifying, really, to see that because I was, I went to those meetings every year for… golly, something like 18 years, and anyway.
So, see? I told you this would be boring! I’m out of stuff to talk about!
[Marty]: It’s not boring at all, and you know, with that, with that 2003 Las Vegas… you know, I have a fond memory of the Liberace Museum, we went there!
Oh, my God that was so wonderful!
[Jones]: We went there!
See? That’s Marla. She thought of that.
[Marty]: That was really cool. [Laughing]
That was a lot of fun, yes. I actually have pictures of you, I think, at that that reception, Kathy… I’m going to post them.
[Jones]: Oh, I wish you would. That was so fun!
It was, and of course, so once again, we were the last… That museum closed, not that, well, when did it close? It closed just a few years later.
[Jones]: It’s still a collection, and it’s owned privately, and one of my students is the volunteer curator.
Really? I do remember that when we were trying to buy stuff in the shop, and there was this huge line, one of the people at the cash register said, “I don’t think we’ve ever had a group buy so much stuff.”
But yeah, that, that was always part of the thing I liked about MCN is that we found these really quirky places to have receptions at, or just really interesting and unusual places to go.
[Jones]: Yeah, do you remember it had the chocolate tower?
Oh yeah. Yeah! And everybody was getting splashed with the chocolate that was going everywhere, yeah.
[Marty]: You know, as you say, right, we may have had to suffer through a run-down hotel, but hey, it brought MCN back on a solid footing and gave it a solid future, so you can’t…
It did! And then it came back to New Orleans many, many years later. It was an excuse for me to go back down there and visit my daughter, and you know, hang out with my buddies at the old museum.