Category Archives: Graduate School

Hipster Jones

Hipster Jones

This meme has been around for awhile, but I thought I’d share it here. The last time I saw it, I think it graced the walls of our grad lab…

It’s Friday and Spring Break here at the museum – so things are pretty busy. What are you or your organizations doing to mark this busy time of year? Extra programs? Special presentations? I’m eager to hear your thoughts!

Regardless, when in doubt, Indiana Jones.

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Professional – and Personal – Development

Yesterday I was able to sneak out of the office (during my lunch break, it wasn’t that scandalous) and attend “Legacies & Lunch” a brown bag lecture series supported by the Arkansas Humanities Council. Hosted at the brand new Ron Robinson Theatre in the River Market District, the theatre was a mere hop, skip, and a jump away. The subject of the lecture was in keeping with Arkansas Archeology Month (this month!), and presented by the State Archeologist, Dr. Ann M. Early. With a presentation titled “Big News from Old Stuff” I was hooked even before I sat down. In a quick hour, Dr. Early explored the provenance of several collections within the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville) archeology museum collections – including some with ties to the museum. By focusing on a few key collections, Dr. Early helped tell the story of collections as a whole, as well as highlight significant historic archeology events in the state. Many of the local connections and archeology sites were new to me, and there were a few times when a physical map of Arkansas was presented as evidence where I was a bit confused (which river is that again?). Thank goodness Little Rock is located in the dead center of the state!

 Museum-Collections-Rack-Card

Attending the lecture was very fulfilling. Recently I have been feeling…a bit cut off from academia. Despite visiting several sites of informal learning in our new home, and taking advantage of the documentary selection available on Netflix, I have been missing the scholastic atmosphere of a classroom. You may recall I blogged about brown bag lectures last year around this time, when I was invited to present my own brown bag with the Illinois State Museum. I also miss the element of working with a research museum as well, I think. There is something engaging and invigorating about attending all-staff meetings and hearing about the latest publications from peers! Thankfully, there are several volunteer opportunities I am currently exploring in the area to keep myself professionally active and personally satisfied. I am also hopeful to take a stronger role in my alumni organization as a potential board member, and attend at least a couple of national conferences this year, in addition to other regional and local opportunities. Work is also very busy, with some new programs and events debuting as we brace for Spring Rush with oh so many field trips – never a dull moment. Should be a busy time!

What do you do – in or outside your workplace, to stay professionally active and satisfied? Is there even time? Some days there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day or energy left!

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Still me – I promise!

 

Hello, all.

After some thought, I’ve revamped the Wunderkammers page. After a year, let’s consider this a birthday rebranding, of sorts. Rebranding – a name, logo, slogan – often comes with the fear of confusing audiences or may be associated with a change of management or mission. FEAR NOT! The mission of this blog remains the same: to highlight an emerging museum professional’s experiences, reflections, and inquiries. I will also continue to be at the helm. 

In addition to signifying a change in mission or management, rebranding also signifies an awareness of marketing and public image. Rebranding too often or without significant direction is when confusion arises. Last year the Whitney Museum made headlines with its minimalist logo and rebranding, completed after about ten years of its previous logo – a short time. The move to rebrand however coincides with the institution’s physical move and a massive construction project. After much consideration, while “Wunderkummers” (wonder rooms, cabinets of curiosity) still remain at the core of the blog, the title itself leaves a bit of room for confusion and interpretation. While museum geeks and enthusiasts may instantly recognize this – and many have! – I wanted to make the blog a bit more accessible, open. Another key factor in my rebranding was also my shift from graduate student to emerging professional, and physical shift in location.

Inspired by none other than Downton Abbey‘s favorite butler, Mr. Carson, I thought this quotation fit with my mission both as a museum professional and museum enthusiast: “The business of life is the acquisition of memories.” How…perfect. I believe this quotation reflects the mission of this blog, as well as highlights the mission of many a cultural institution – acquiring and interpreting artifacts, art, and ideas. 

To sum up: It’s still me. The title and font have changed, but the mission, writer, and, yes, URL, have remained the same. Questions? Ideas? I welcome them. 

What do you think? Do you agree with Mr. Carson? 

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                                     Mr. Carson knows all, really

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Raising the Bar

Happy 2014!

As I look forward to the New Year and all its rich and exciting possibilities, I wanted to take a moment to recognize some major personal professional milestones that 2013 saw and outline some goals for the future. During the last year I….

  • Completed a competitive, yearlong internship

  • Successfully completed and defended my graduate exams 
  • Walked across the graduation stage and earned my Masters Degree

  •  Accepted a position – in a new state 

  •  Moved to said state and passed a probationary period of employment

  • Discovered a charming historic neighborhood we call “home,” for now  

While I continue to grow in my new position, and we continue to explore this new geographical region, I am going to make an effort to be more mindful of blogging and attempt a greater frequency of posts. Easier said than done, correct?

Another goal I am keen to pursue is to volunteer more. While living in Springfield I enjoyed volunteering with the arts association and public library, but now that I’m in a new town – it is time to expand my horizons. While I enjoy volunteering in my field – I consider this a great way to give back to a community AND grow, I am eager to volunteer in fields unrelated to my own.

One organization that I grew to really appreciate and respect last year is Optimist International. A volunteer with the ISM was highly involved with the Optimists, and I was able to present on behalf of the museum to this organization in July 2013. The mission of Optimist International is “By providing hope and positive vision, Optimists bring out the best in kids.” For more information, check out their website. While attending the organization’s meeting in July, I was struck by the positive attitude of its members and their dedication.  I look forward to exploring local branches of this organization, and seeking out similar volunteer opportunities. 

In addition to blogging and volunteering, I am also eager to travel. Through work I’ve been able to explore some of the immediate region through educational outreach. Beyond this though, I am eager for day-trips full of photography, winding roads, towns big and small, and seeing what exactly is unique to the so-called “Mid-South.” A few posts ago I made a list of cultural and historic sites of interest. I look forward to adding to this list.  

So, reader. What sort of organizations do you volunteer with? Any recommendations? Also – any adventurous tips for this Yankee? I look forward to pushing myself personally and professionally during this next year – to explore this new position and all the regional possibilities this area may offer.  

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Partnering with a Campus Museum

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the opening of the exhibit “Experiences of the Illinois Civil War Soldier: Reflections through Art and Artifact” hosted at the Tarble Arts Center at Eastern Illinois University.

Current students in the Historical Administration program partnered with the Tarble Arts Center (an AAM accredited institution) to share the stories of Civil War soldiers from Illinois, with a focus on art and artifacts. It was a fascinating, focused look on a popular topic as we continue to mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War – the students did a great job!

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Explore an exciting new exhibit at the Tarble Arts Center at Eastern Illinois University.
Photo credit: HA Class 2012-2013.

To see the exhibit up close, explore the exhibit’s TumblrFacebook, and Twitter. Students created these social media pages through class assignments in Museum Digital Apps I & II. The sites outline the exhibit from a “big idea” to hammer and nail construction, and each site grants a unique behind the scenes look at the arch of the project. 

My graduate class also collaborated with the Tarble Arts Center, working with their permanent art collection and archives. One of our projects was to research and craft a disaster plan for the collection. It was a wonderful opportunity to apply material learned in the classroom (best practices, theory, etc) directly with a partnering institution on campus.

Campus museums play a great role in the development of not only budding museum professionals, but also students and staff affiliated with the arts, humanities, sciences, and all sorts things in the realm of informal learning.  The role of campus museums was recently discussed in the American Alliance of Museums LinkedIn group.

Did your college or university have a museum or two? What type? How did you connect with it as a student or visitor?

 

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Snapshots of a Symposium

Below is just a glance at the 36th Annual Historical Administration Program Association Symposium which was held this weekend at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, IL. It was a wonderful chance to stay current in the field, learn new resources and study trends, connect with classmates and meet alumni! More on this conference later, but here’s a look to wet your appetite. . . 

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There were multiple conferences being held this weekend, so signs across campus helped direct out of town visitors. 

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Half of the 36th Annual Historical Administration Program Association Symposium was held at the MLK Jr. Union at Eastern Illinois University. Flowers AND trees were in bloom – no snow!

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Symposium Swag! One of the included goodies at the symposium was a mini tape measure sporting this year’s logo, “Keep Calm and get the Disaster Plan.”

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The Symposium featured a variety of speakers and mini workshops, including a session held at the Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site. The day was very insightful and a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with HA alumni and meet new and returning students.

 

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Celebrate with a Koala!

Check out this studious koala.

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What Does a Koala Bear Need? (1976)
By Jane Belk Moncure
Illustrated by Helen Endres

I spotted this 1970s children’s picture book while volunteering with our local library’s Youth Services Department a few weeks ago. The book compares the needs of a baby koala with those of a human child – so it gets a bit strange at points. But the pictures of the koala are cute. (Can you tell I love koalas?)

This seems a perfect way to announce it – yes, it’s official – I passed my graduate exams yesterday!

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A Career in Museums?

As a child I envied my peers who knew what they wanted to be when they grew up. You know the type – Firefighter. Teacher. Doctor. Nurse. Mime. I remember thinking, I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. 

Since then I have discovered that I love working in museums. I enjoy engaging visitors and making museum collections accessible. Every day something new is going on – a new program to design, a new project to research, a new volunteer to train – I don’t remember the last time I was ever bored!

Recently I had the opportunity to help represent the field of museums at a high school career fair. Eager students flooded a gym set up with about fifty different exhibitors, with career fields ranging from dance to pharmacy to funeral home management and beyond. There was a wonderful turnout by both local organizations and interested students. It was great to talk with students about what they were interested in studying at college and potentially pursuing as a career.The day was energizing a number of ways. Often students asked what they could do to prepare themselves for potentially working in the field. Our answer? Visit museums. Volunteer. Intern, etc. Exploring a career in museums comes with its share of challenges – as does any number of professions these days. As an emerging professional almost done with graduate school, talking with these high school students was refreshing and reminded me of when I first began considering a career path in the museum world! Their ideas and curiosity about the field made the morning and afternoon fly.

When did you first start to consider your career? Are you pursuing what you thought you wanted to be “when you grow up?”

ISM represented the field of museums at a high school career fair. We had the subcategory of "archeology" as well - although this is just one aspect of the expertise on staff!

ISM represented the field of museums at a high school career fair. We had the subcategory of “archaeology” as well – although this is just one aspect of the expertise on staff!

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Words of Wisdom

Words of Wisdom

Indiana Jones AND Steve Martin assist with studying for oral exams.
I’m in good company.

Planning for People in Museum Exhibitions (1993)
Kathleen McLean

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