I set out to explore the various ways museums have shaped my understanding of the world and path through life. I have only thought about these connections in small pieces– often just as dots to connect on my resume. There is more to it than that. <number>
My first memories of my life and family include memories of Plimoth Plantation. On weekends, my brother, sister and I would dress up and accompany my mother who worked as an interpreter. It was exciting, but some days I remember wanting my mom to just be my mom and not Priscilla Alden. <number>
Family day-trips and vacations always revolved around museums. When we drove to Washington DC, I remember we each made a list of all the different things we wanted to do and see. It was really important to me that I see some of the “famous” artifacts of our country. <number>
Each summer my Uncle John would take us into Boston for City-Day! Walking until our feet hurt, we covered the entire city. I remember ending the day in the Science Museum, where a machine would capture shadows in green light. We struck a crazy pose– and stepped away to watch our magic shadows slowly fade away.<number>
My first summer job was back at Plimoth Plantation as a Visitor Services Representative. It’s still one of the best jobs I’ve ever had! It was the first time I worked with the public, and it made me realize the importance of kindness, patience and empathy, especially when a visitor is confused, tired, worried, hurt, or angry. <number>
At Mount Holyoke College, my work study job was helping the Business Manager and Registrar at the Art Museum. I helped with all kinds of stuff, including: changing light bulbs, matting photographs, monitoring gallery climates, and researching and photgraphing a large collection of Japanese prints. <number>
During college, I spent one semester studying the ocean through its oceanography, history, literature and policy of the sea. We sailed on a schooner for two-weeks and traveled the coast of the Pacific Northwest. Our home campus was Mystic Seaport in Mystic, CT and the museum grounds became our classroom. <number>
I opted to stay-on at Mystic Seaport as a summer intern doing sail handling demonstration and talking with visitors about the fishing industries. I worked aloft, sometimes over 100 feet in the air. One day after I slid back down to the ship, a visitor approached me and said how proud she was that she could show her little girl, “That’s a girl up there!” That has stayed with me. This job was also the closest to being an educator that I have ever been. <number>
After graduation, I took a job with the National Park Service in Woodstock, Vermont at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller Estate. Built in 1805 as a farmhouse, this was the boyhood home of George Perkins Marsh, one of America’s first environmentalists. Later, Laurence and Mary Rockefeller donated the homestead to the NPS.<number>
It was an interesting time the National Park Service. For the first time, they wanted to focus more on sites that were about people and stories and not just about the land.
My job was to inventory the estate’s enormous collection of American art. This required hand numbering every single object in the house! I learned so much about collections care and management. One of my most curious assignments was to inventory a bomb-shelter that had been added on the house in the 1950’s. But as my year long contract came to an end, I craved a position and location that was more social.
As luck would have it, Williams-Mystic had an opening to join their staff. I served as Assistant Director for Administration and Finance. I orchestrated the people, places, buildings, travels, monies and schedules. I thrived in the work hard/play hard environment and relished to chance to get to know faculty, staff and students as classmates, shipmates, travelmates and friends. An important part of my job was facilitating communications between the museum and the university. <number>
I stayed with Williams-Mystic for five years and it really shaped who I am and how I approach work and life. It provided a safe and loving place to grow as an administrator and manager. I feel very lucky– graphic designers may frown but, Williams-Mystic warrants a very big heart!!
I was moving to Boston and getting married when a friend suggested I check out an architectural and planning firm that specialized in Museums. I literally showed up on their doorstep. After a few weeks of volunteering, I was asked to serve on their planning team. I helped write reports and then I started attending site visits and conducting interviews. Interviews were an important part of our planning process. It allowed members of the museum community and stakeholders to express their opinions and concerns.
The projects took me to Los Angeles, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Albany, and around New England. It amazed me how different each project was. Museums are so unique depending on their mission, collection, programs, location, community and staff. Simply put, my job was to help them solve problems. I genuinely enjoy people, administration, and project management, and that’s why I excelled in this job. I never felt like an expert.
This was a planning project for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Oddly enough, each year hundreds of thousands of visitors arrive in Hollywood, and have little to do. Getrude Sten said, “There is no there there.” My favorite part of this project was touring the collections of movie memorabilia and attending a private screening with Academy Members. I believe this museum will be opening up in the next year or two. Watch for it!
After five years, I decided that I needed a change. Many people consider consulting/planning positions, like what I was doing, to be the top of the museum-job food chain. I wrestled with my decision to leave for a long time. In the end, I wasn’t always convinced we were doing what was best for the client. We encouraged growth and building because that was our bread and butter. My heart was often sympathizing with and longing to be back on the other side of the fence in the non-profit world. That’s what led me to Lesley University, to my position as a program manager. and to the community arts program…..
The Community Arts program is a place for me to grow, learn and explore. Many people assume because I have worked “in museums” and higher ed that I am a teacher. Education is new to me, but it feels like I am on the right track!! Though I realize now, I have never strayed too far from it!
My desire be in and around museums has never gone away. Luckily my husband shares my interest, or at least tolerates it! My favorite days still revolve around museums!!
Sarah Pecha Kucha
connections to my life and learning
Bar Harbor, ME
Information, “No the Pilgrims don’t
really live here.”
The Maritime Studies Program of Williams College and Mystic Seaport
quot;Concern for the environment and access
to parks is not frivolous or peripheral;
rather it is central to the welfare of
people- body, mind and spirit.“
Laurance Spelman Rockefeller
quot;There is a mandate to invent an entirely new kind of park. It must be
one where the human stories and the natural history are intertwined;
where the relatively small acreage serves as an educational resource
for the entire National Park Service and a seedbed for American
environmental thought; and where the legacy of American
conservation and its future enter into dialogue, generating a new
environmental paradigm for our day.quot;
Author and professor John Elder at the opening of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National
Historical Park, June 5, 1998
The Maritime Studies Program of
Williams College and Mystic Seaport
Museum Planning Services:
Comprehensive Master Planning
Building Facility Programming and Space Planning
Preliminary Project Budgets
Feasibility Assessments and Operational Planning including
staffing, projected operating expenses, and projected operating
Conceptual Building Designs
Museum Technology Planning
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Hollywood, CA
NASCAR Hall of Fame and Museum, Atlanta, GA
Museum L/A, Lewiston/Auburn, ME
Carnegie Museums, Pittsburgh, PA
Frick Art and History Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, TN
MIT Museum, Cambridge, MA
Schenectady Museum, Schenectady, NY
San Jacinto Museum of History, La Porte, TX
Dekelboum Science Center, West Palm Beach, FL
Caguas Science Center, Cauguas, PR
Tampa Bay History Center, Tampa, FL
National Infantry Museum, Columbus, GA