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321 University Library       Kent, OH 44242-0001       (330) 672-3887       muselab@kent.edu

Hey, look, I'm a blog

Yes, another blog. But not just any blog. This one will take you to other realities--that is, musealities. Here we will

 explore the exciting world of transformation--of objects, of people, of professional training--about museums and museum studies. Dr. Kiersten F. Latham will head up most of these bloggies but occasionally other brave souls will join her as guest-bloggers in her quest to find the truth behind museum doors. Look for new posts monthly and be sure to join in the conversation through the comments section.

I work with a small team of incredible museum professionals at the Kent State University Museum, where I facilitate incoming and outgoing loans for internal and external exhibitions by negotiating contracts and logistics planning. Working with students, faculty, and outside researchers, I provide collection items for classroom and research use. For the museum’s nearly 30,000 piece collection, I provide safe housing for the objects, maintain collection records and track locations.

I have a variety of resources on my “analog” bookshelf including manuals, auction and exhibition catalogues, handbooks and printed grant guidelines. Here is the short list:

  • Managing Costume Collections: An essential primer by Louise-Coffey-Webb

  • Introduction to Object ID: Guidelines for Making records that describe art, antiques and antiquities from the Getty Information Institute

  • Collection Care: An illustrated handbook for the care and handling of cultural objects by Brent A. Powell

  • A Legal P...

I have my deep love for education to thank for my position here at the iSchool. It started when, at seven years-old, I set up a pop-up booth to teach reading to anyone passing by. Strangely, I never had a single customer, but my passion for sharing knowledge remained intact. It took me from science camp counselor and museum docent in college to high school Latin teacher and “Master Teacher” (talk about museum job titles!) at a science museum. From there, it was onto graduate school to try to understand that magic link between learning and museums.

Which brings us to today. I currently contract with organizations to develop exhibits, educational programs, and visitor studies evaluations. I have also been with Kent since 2016 as one of the instructors for Foundations for Museum Studies.

It may come as no surprise, then, that books have been and are a tremendous part of my life. But here’s my problem with books: there are far too many. Too many that I want to read, too many that I have purc...

July 1, 2019

Anne Duffy is an MLIS student focusing on Museum Studies and about to start her last semester in the program. In spring, she completed her CE Internship at the Kent State University MuseLab co-designing the exhibit on Dr. José Gregorio Hernández.

As part of our exhibit, Healing Through Faith & Medicine: One Man’s Legacy about Dr. José Gregorio, we needed to borrow artifacts from a medical collection since medicine was a large part of our subject’s life. We were fortunate to work with the Melnick Medical Museum in Youngstown who lent us objects to help tell the story of Dr. José Gregorio the way it deserves to be told, with accuracy and depth. We wanted to provide real objects rather than pictures or replicas; having the “real thing” can help provide visitors a connection to the era (the late 1800s to the early 1900s) and the person (Dr. José Gregorio). In this case, the medical objects provide a sense of what Dr. José Gregorio brought to Venezuela and how important he was to his patient...

June 1, 2019

This post was written by Katie Clements, an MLIS student studying Museum Studies and Archives at Kent State. Katie worked in the MuseLab with her cohorts Anne Duffy and Haley Shaw in fulfillment of her Culminating Experience.

This semester, the MuseLab saw the development and installation of an exhibit designed around a solitary figure in Venezuelan history: the Venerable Dr. José Gregorio Hernández. Dr. José Gregorio was a Venezuelan physician in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He used a combination of medicine and faith in his healing, and since his death in 1919, petitioners have continued to call on him for healing miracles. His legacy left such an impact that people are calling for him to be declared a saint by the Catholic Church. Students from the Fall 2018 semester’s Museum Communication course designed proposals that were used as the basis for this exhibit, and students this Spring 2019 semester worked to bring that exhibit to fruition

The task: Dress a mannequin to look...

In a recent conversation with a museum friend, I was reminded of something that’s been troubling me for a very long time during my career. After many years in the field—with a lot more hindsight—I can see a worrisome pattern behind the scenes of many museums. I want to preface this with the fact that I am aware that what I am about to write is probably not a museum-specific issue, but I know museums, and so I focus here on museums. Here it is: Despite the fact that the people who end up working in museums anecdotally do so because of their deep passion and love for objects, visitors, and interpretive processes, many museum professionals are miserable. Behind the scenes, stress levels are so high and the joy of what got them there in the first place is lost because of the angst they feel. I am not presenting a study here, just an observation from many years of working in museums and now many years of working on museums (and with museum professionals).

What can be done? How can we help ma...

When Kiersten asked if I would consider writing about my own essential museum reading for this blog, I was immediately drawn to a book that I had not yet read.  It was the perfect excuse to begin Lois H. Silverman’s, The Social Work of Museums, which I had stumbled upon in the KentLINK catalog recently, but put aside as a ‘get to someday’ read. 

Growing up, my parents and most of their friends were social workers and psychologists, and I have been around the language of social work for much of my life.  However, when I earned my Museum Studies degree in the early 1990s, I viewed my new profession as very different from the practices of my parents.  Silverman’s book, however, is a revelation about the way in which the practices of both social work and museum work create natural and thoughtful synergies. 

Silverman begins by recounting the development of both modern museums and social work in the late 19th century as movements which arose in service of modern societal needs.  She...

I’ve been schlepping my books and journals around the country for my museum career, and on reflection, it’s fascinating to see which books have become indispensable, and which have quietly slipped into the background. I began my career as a museum educator and interpretive manager, then became an exhibitions manager, back to education, and finally, here I am in administration. When I took a moment to think on which books I lean on now, I realized rather shockingly that “museum” titles don’t make the top 5. I’ve got a lot of books on the shelf, plus many many folders of articles and reports. But these are the ones I find myself revisiting over and over.

My first two go-to books are ones that support and refresh my creative side and help me lead a team of creative storytellers. Creativity, Inc, by Ed Catmull, is a memoir of the founding of Pixar. It’s a perfect book for me, revealing processes that drive the creative engine, as well as practices that support a healthy creative work cultur...

Hi everyone! My name is Jessica Fijalkovich, I’m the Art Library Program Coordinator at the Akron Art Museum and an alumna of Kent State University’s M.L.I.S. program. When I realized I wanted to work in a museum I dreamed about working in community outreach, bringing the museum experience to people outside of the traditional museum setting. In my role at the museum I get to do exactly that, along with a lot of admin work, meetings and a variety of professional development activities. For those who haven’t heard of the Akron Art Library, it’s an art lending program organized by the Akron Art Museum in partnership with Akron-Summit County Public Library. Any Ohio resident is eligible to check out original works of art for up to four weeks at a time with their library card— just like checking out a book or movie.

I began the M.L.I.S. program in 2014 with the intent of becoming a Special Collections Librarian. As fate will have it, these plans changed when I enrolled in Foundations of Muse...

February 15, 2019

From: https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/learn

I promised that I would continue to explore this thing I’m calling Positive Museology, so this blog post is about a concept—well, more of a theory—from Positive Psychology. The Five Pillars of Well-being, dubbed PERMA, stands for Positive emotions, Engagement, positive Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment. A bit more detail:

  • (P) Positive Emotions– Feeling positive emotions such as awe, love, amusement, joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, and inspiration;

  • (E) Engagement– Being fully absorbed in activities that use your skills, and challenge you;

  • (R) Relationships– Having positive relationships;

  • (M) Meaning– Serving something bigger than yourself;

  • (A) Accomplishment– Pursuing success, achievement and mastery for their own sake.

This theory comes from many years of work by Martin Seligman and his colleagues (see https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/perma-model/ for details). According...

I recently left the museum field to return to work at an academic library, so the books I refer to have changed slightly over the past year, but in many instances, are applicable to both jobs.

The one book I keep on my desk is the Essential Manager’s Manual (1998) by DK Publishing that I picked up used years ago.  It covers everything from interviewing techniques to how to run a meeting.  This book is my go-to if I need a refresher on management practices. Another book currently on my desk is the most recent edition of Robert’s Rules of Order (2011).  I am the President of the library’s Friends board and I needed to brush up on by-laws revisions best practices and the parameters of setting up a nominating committee.

I also have two books checked out to me because I am the chair of the library’s special collections exhibition committee.   They are Exhibits for the Small Museum: A Handbook (1976) and Help for the Small Museum (1987), both by Arminta Neal.  We are working on an ex...

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