Visiting museums and historical sites I always allow double the amount of time estimated for a visit. Often hidden in the detail on those information boards there is a spark of an idea for an article or an interesting fact that can help bring a story to life. However, one resource often overlooked is the room steward, guide or other expert on hand to answer questions.
Visiting a church in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust a comment on the tiling brought forth a whole mass of information about how there came to be quite so much used throughout the church and the guide was also happy to expand on the information on a curiously worded memorial on the church.
At a museum a fascinating discussion on samplers followed a remark about a small detail shown on the info board. The board drew attention to the alphabet as depicted on some samplers from the seventeenth century and posed an interesting question. Were there errors on the samplers or simply a lack of standardisation at the time? More examples were shown by the guide and suggestions as to other places to visit for more detail supplied.
A look beyond the obvious can prove useful on many counts and most people manning these sites are a mine of information if only people took the time to dig deeper and pay them some attention. Sometimes room stewards must feel themselves invisible.