Did you know the English King Richard's body was found in a parking lot a few years ago? Or how see-through material came about? Travel Channel's "Mysteries at the Museum" season eight premieres Friday, April 3 at 9 p.m. EST, and tells the story behind these events and more.
We caught up with the host, Don Wildman, about what's in store this season, his tips for visiting museums and his favorite travel rituals.
AOL: The show premieres this Friday -- tell us a little about what we can expect this season?
DW: In general we're trying to do really varied subject matter each show. You're basically watching six different stories an episode. And they can be as varied as crime stories and military triumphs to medical anomalies.
In Friday's show I love the story about cellophane. It goes from that to England -- the story of finding King Richard's body in a parking lot a couple years ago -- to a space pen story about the Apollo mission when Buzz Aldrin had to secure a switch to get off the surface of the moon.
AOL: What is the most unusual thing you've seen commemorated in a museum?
DW: I was walking on the street in Prague and came upon a postcard museum. It really appealed to me because I love those vintage postcards. There are so many little museums that appeal to those kinds of specific interests.
[In the U.S.,] the Mercer Museum in Philadelphia is amazing. This man named Mercer created a museum for industrial artifacts before the industrial age. In other words, hand-operated tools. You see America before the mid-1800s and all this artisan craft stuff, but not in an old fashioned way -- in a way that really just was how the world was. It's a very unsentimental, very proud collection of how people did things before machines did them for us.
Related: Museum Week secrets
Museum Week Secrets
Travel Channel star Don Wildman talks 'Mysteries at the Museum'
This is where the Smiths' ashes are entombed in the wall of the George Walter Vincent Smith Museum. #secretsMW http://t.co/8izD26pYUm
In the attic of @MuseeArmee and @Plansreliefs !! #SecretsMW #MuseumWeek http://t.co/m3IBthG55q
Our library has a handwritten & signed documents by #AbrahamLincoln #secretsMW #ondisplaysoon http://t.co/e55eWtpAYV http://t.co/Bh0lGEYeaz
frank o'Hara, sol leWitt, kathy bates & jeff koons all worked @museummodernart #SecretsMW http://t.co/1NSFCe7gmW http://t.co/gzTPsslKhz"
For the first day of international #MuseumWeek, museums are telling some of their secrets...did you know that our C17th English paneled Rotherwas Room has secret doors from it's origin as a dining room for a prominent Catholic family in the Elizabethan era? They're no longer in use, but see if you can spot the handles hidden in the panelling #secretsMW
Frick Art Museum basement where staffers left their mark. #behindthescenes #secretsMW #MuseumWeek
Follow us on Twitter @thefrickpgh for museum secrets and more during @museumweek!
WOAH. Just got a new #secret from Natural History Curator Matthew Gibson for #MuseumWeek : "In the early decades of collecting many naturalists would sample as much of the local animal and plant life as they possibly can. While collecting these organisms, they would make sketches and thorough notes so they could be used for presentation and interpretation later. It was not uncommon for those notes to include cooking suggestions, as these naturalists would also commonly eat a sample of everything they collected!" #SecretsMW
For #MuseumWeek, peek inside the #Chinati conservation studio where staff preserve and present the works of the 12 artists in the Chinati collection. Pictured here is a Judd stack being worked on #secretsMW. Follow along on Twitter @ChinatiFndn all week long for more
The “starball” in the Seymour Planetarium is the oldest projector still in operation. #secretsMW #MuseumsWeek http://t.co/lsJxu2STfT
It's #MuseumWeek , so that means saturating all social media with artifacts in my book. Today's theme: Secrets! Here are some of my personal MSU Museum favorites from the days when medicine was straight to the point. #secretsmw #puremichigan
The back, or verso, of a painting can tell us a lot. The artist, Marie Hull, hand wrote her address and listed the price of the painting; N. F. S. means Not For Sale so at some point the painting was taken off the market; we know from the second address that she sent 'Melissa' to the 1st American Annual painters Fellowship at the MS State Fair in 1936; The labels tell us that it has been in at least three exhibitions; and that tiny white rectangle on the left tells us that the painting once had a hole in the canvas and was patched by a conservator. #secretsMW #MuseumWeek #museumwork #registrarlife #MarieHull #msmuseumart #whatsOntheVerso
Have you ever wondered how to install a 1750 lb. #sculpture? #carefully http://t.co/h40IY6dzbV #MuseumWeek #secretsMW http://t.co/Q1GyEjn4Pw
Here is a pic behind the wheel of one of our steam cars. Can you see the mini-lantern that would help you read the gauges after dark? #steamteam #MuseumWeek #secretsMW #netde #marshallsteammuseum
TxDOT officially classifies #PradaMarfa as a museum. Curious what that back looks like? #secretsMW #museumweek http://t.co/TRhEp172zU
The Majors Barn has a working historical woodshop in the back! #secretsMW #MuseumWeek http://t.co/P4NJmlGjHf
How do we write collection numbers on our many glazed objects? With patience and a cup for practicing! #secretsMW http://t.co/y47Z8Eetc2
Some people pickle onions - we pickle & preserve natural history specimens in our jars #secretsMW #MuseumWeek http://t.co/xMlaHBYIEB
Did you know we have Thomas Edison's time cards in our collections? #museumweek #secretsmw http://t.co/kOvuD5LL95 http://t.co/yDvJPSsTKM
#secretsMW Monday in the Museum of the Imperial Fora: cleaning behind the statues.
#Roosevelt document from my #WW2 evacuee archive: she financially supported British child #secretsMW #MuseumWeek2015 http://t.co/lsSI4RhDqM
47 items in our online collections contain human hair, incl. this one http://t.co/iKGXhhsHJv #secretsMW #MuseumWeek http://t.co/MHXq0Yge8S
"Carriage Drafting and Construction" classes were offered by @metmuseum during the 1880s #secretsMW http://t.co/ZE6FzW977j
We have tiny gnomes incorporated into our Museum murals. #secretsMW #loveland http://t.co/7qfbaVERN5
#SecretsMW #MuseumWeek Our 1st acquisition: this lace collar, given to the Museum in 1914! http://t.co/ZiYwM8yH3c http://t.co/5H1QUqENt7
Favorite recent acquisition I made: #ataridig materials excavated from Alamogordo landfill. #MuseumWeek #secretsMW http://t.co/izBaChL588
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AOL: You add this amazing element of intrigue to places that might otherwise seem ordinary. Do you have any tips for travelers to make museums a more exciting experience?
DW: People walk into museums as if they're a staged environment that doesn't move, like it's not dynamic, when the fact is it really is. People need to think of museums more like restaurants. You're coming in to procure something that someone's dying to give you. And what they're offering is knowledge. If you think something active is happening here, then you get more out of museums.
AOL: You do a ton of traveling. Do you have any travel traditions or things that you always seek out?
DW: I've found myself creating these rituals that feel reassuring and settle me down. And that's important even for someone who isn't going some place every week.
I set up my hotel room to be "my" place. I take an hour and set the books where I want them to be, put away the things I don't want, rearrange the furniture. Do whatever you need to do and make it your own.
The next thing I do is just walk around the city. I try to walk around the immediate area I'm in without anyone telling me what's there. So I'm just a blank slate, looking at shops and places and people and being open to the environment. It's a "less is more" approach to travel. It makes you less anxious and more open to spontaneous experiences.
AOL: What story are you most excited for people to see this season?
DW: We're doing a story I'd never heard of about Gordon Cooper in the Mercury [spacecraft] capsule realizing that he'd lost the ability to reenter the atmosphere. He figured out on his 20th orbit he would die if he went to 21. So in that 20th orbit around Earth (which is not that much time) he had to figure out a manual way to re-enter the atmosphere at exactly the right pitch and altitude or he would burn up or bounce off and be lost forever.
So he fogged up the window with his breath and drew a line on the horizon and used that as his guide to figure out how to do this. He landed four miles from the ship that was there to pick him up. It's an amazing story.
AOL: Important travel question -- aisle or window seat?
Aisle, because I hate bothering people. It's the most awkward thing about travel -- bothering other people. And it's most concentrated when you're on a plane. I like to have freedom so I don't have to bother people.