When I opened my email and saw that I was selected to be the next student in the ECI program I cried. I did. I was in the UW Tower, catching up on life and doing homework and I teared up and smiled like a complete goon to myself for the next several hours. That glow and excitement stayed with me for days afterward and even now sometimes it dawns on me that I get to do this Really Cool Thing. I was also in shock. I took a slight risk with my concept, perhaps leaving it a bit more open ended than my mentors would have suggested, but I believed strongly in the core ideas and submitted it anyway. Everyone who was in ECI with me that quarter had phenomenal ideas. I was excited to see any of them come to life. I was astonished to be chosen, but it felt like I was truly on the path I had envisioned.
You see, the ECI program was one of the things that drew me to Museology. I was already in the thick of a graduate program (Library and Information Science), but I was looking to grow as a creative professional. I kept coming back to my love for art, my love for learning, and my love for special community places. When I was in grade school, my favorite assignment was to create an exhibit for a "5th Grade Museum." My partner and I chose airplanes as our topic. I remember the thrill of brainstorming and how good it felt to stretch my creative muscles. It was the first time I had considered appealing to all five senses and thinking outside of the box. (I mean, we brought in a toy plane and got a CD of airplane sounds and (in a move that would not be okay today) served our patrons peanuts). I think it was then that I got addicted to the idea of creative learning spaces.
I went into Elementary Education and History at UW-Madison. I really loved writing lesson plans and coming up with new ways to share information to the next generation, but I knew that I did not want to work in a traditional classroom. I loved my student teaching experience at a Reggio Emilia inspired preschool (where art and science and lesson plans are directed by the interest of the students and come together in organic and comprehensive lessons), but I also did not want to teach preschool for the rest of my career.
I fantasized about working in a children's museum or starting my own gallery with art made by children (couldn't figure out how to keep something like that running for more than a couple of weeks before going broke). While living in Miami I heard of a job opening at a local history museum to design curriculum for family learning programs. I put my heart and soul into the application. It was the first time I really thought, "Working in a museum is a real thing that real people do? I could do this!" They didn't hire anyone for the job due to budget cuts, but the idea was planted in my brain.
I decided to go to graduate school to become a librarian and information professional. I liked the possibilities and wide range of jobs. With an MLIS and the right experience you can find yourself working at a public library, academic library, teaching people about technology, wrangling metadata, organizing knowledge as an information architect, working in a corporate library, reveling in history as an archivist, cataloging interesting books for special collections, reading to children at storytime, managing digital assets, publishing papers on a wide variety of research topics, and more. I thought it would be a good professional move. And it has been. I have been able to network with amazing folks in Seattle and around the country. I've learned concepts that are very similar to those in Museology. And it introduced me to the word "Museology."
My advisor, the ever patient Marie, fielded all of my questions about this graduate program that some MLIS students took classes in. She introduced me to the idea of getting a concurrent masters degree. She gave me the contact information for Maya who gave me the contact information for Lisa who scheduled an appointment with Kris who became my advisor when I applied. Without my MLIS experience, I wouldn't have sat in on the Museology Open House or heard Wilson talk about something called the Emerging Curator Initiative. The moment Wilson explained his ECI seminar, I knew I wanted in on it. I don't know if he remembers, but I asked him about it during our orientation.
And here I am! And here you are! Reading about me and my convoluted path to professional bliss. I'm so excited to be sharing my experience here with you on this space. I'm so excited to be working with KAC on this project and learning from them via the internship. I'd like to thank them for selecting me and having faith in my ability to pull a show together from my concept (which I'll share later!). Anna was immeasurably helpful when putting together my proposal. I'm thrilled to get the chance to work with her closely these next several months. I'd like to thank Wilson for being my exhibit and Museology guru. He puts up with my constant questions. And I'd really like to thank Grant, my predecessor, who was incredibly generous with his time and provided me with tips, tricks, and told me to 'chill' when I needed to hear it. Your show was great, Grant, I have big shoes to fill. With those thanks, I bid you adieu.
Until next time,