A Follow-Up to Yesterday

Wow. Did yesterday happen? Yes, Alli, it did, and it was awesome. But now what? What are you going to do next??

I will admit, when I first started this blog in 2013, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was hoping to do something similar to what Emily had over at the UMZM and Field Museum, but I didn’t have the access. I thought, well, maybe I’ll do something similar but with the Waterworks Museum; now I’ve left there, and while I think I did a pretty decent job running their social media, I had dreams for what it could have been if I had infinite time and money and resources. I think I also got bogged down in the process of blogging – what do I talk about? How often do I post? Who is going to care? Will anyone even read this thing? So eventually, I stopped.

Yesterday was amazing, and not only because of Emily’s unofficial official nomination. Yesterday I got to meet Hopi Hoekstra, the Curator of Mammals at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, and it was awesome because we got chatting about how awesome it would be if Hopi could get Emily to come visit Harvard and give a talk to kids and students about getting involved with science. Yesterday was amazing because I got to go to work at the HMNH and spend my day surrounded by fascinating collections pieces whose stories have yet to be told. Yesterday was amazing because I got to spend time with my best friend, seeing one of our favorite bands live.

Now, I feel recharged, refreshed, and filled with a new sense of purpose. Today, I go to work with the reminder that people are curious and want to learn more, and that I have the opportunity to facilitate that learning and help fuel that curiosity, in kids and adults alike. Today I go to work with a storyteller’s eye, seeking the tales (haha, tails/tales, get it) that have yet to be told; hoping to awaken long-dead species to tell their stories to whoever will listen; determined to no longer remain dormant. I am once again an active volcano.

My new goal for this blog will be to post twice a week about something I find fascinating at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, the Harvard Semitic Museum, and the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments (collectively known as the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture). I don’t have a backstage pass for any of these museums (yet!), so what I’ll be delivering is what I can find through research and asking the right people. It won’t be just natural history focused – there will be history woven in as well, because that is my background and my ultimate passion.

I still need to think of a tag for these special posts, but I will come up with something, don’t you worry. Keep an eye out: things are about to get interesting.

– a 

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A Follow-Up to Yesterday

Drinking About Museums!

Wednesday night I had the opportunity to participate in my first-ever Drinking About Museums. I had heard about Museums Show-Off via Twitter, but Drinking About Museums was a new setting for me. I follow quite a few museum professionals on Twitter, and learned about the event through that.

Not gonna lie, I was pretty nervous when I showed up at the bar. I had no idea what to expect. Would we be sitting down? Hanging out at the bar? Who was going to be there? Was there a format involved? Did I need to know some secret handshake to get in?

Luckily, I knew a few people that were attending, and was swiftly shown to the table where 20 fellow museum professionals were sitting, enjoyinig a beer and some food, and chatting enthusiastically about work and play. Several of the people there were employees at the Peabody Essex Museum, where I was an intern in 2009, so I felt a bit more comfortable knowing people I could talk to. It was a great time! I was kinda quiet at first, mostly because I had no idea what to say. But eventually I was asked what my profession was, how I was involved in museums, and the conversation moved on from there. I was told I could come back to intern at PEM (I might take you up on that, Ed Rodley!) and met some new PEM employees that I had never known during my time as an intern.

The best conversations I had were with a woman from the Museum of Science (Caroline, but I can’t remember her last name, dang it!), and with Juliette, who works in Public Programs at the PEM. With both of them I talked about where I was in my program and what I wanted to accomplish out of it, and how hard it is to get in to the field nowadays. Juliette reminded me that in this field, it really is all about who you know and who you network with, but that because the field is so small and tight-knit,everyone ends up knowing everybody, somehow. Caroline and I talked about how she got into the field, and I was surprised to learn that she didn’t start out in exhibits, but in education. We talked about how so many people start out working in one department and eventually find themselves doing projects for other departments and becoming a jack-of-all-trades in their museum. Which is also incredibly thrilling to hear! I am head over heels for all things collections-related, but if I can have the opportunity to work with education or public programs or development, that makes things even better. Right now I’m working in Collections and Marketing at the Waterworks Museum, but I’m trying to see if its possible to help the Education dept at HMNH with the next Family Day event.

This experience has only increased my love of the tight-knit community of museum professionals I already know, and makes me want to meet more individuals who share my passions. I want to meet more emerging professionals my own age, but learning from those who have been through the motions of working in museums is always an amazing opportunity that I hope to someday participate in from the other end (I wanna mentor people too!).

Until next time, cheers!

Drinking About Museums!