"I get to spend my days coming up with compelling exhibition ideas, gathering priceless cultural artifacts ..."
What do you do? I am the senior curator for the EMP Museum, which means that I get to spend my days coming up with compelling exhibition ideas, gathering priceless cultural artifacts, interviewing amazingly talented people and presenting all of that content in exhibition form.
What is a typical day like on the job? It varies every day — last week I met with the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee about an upcoming exhibition that we’re collaborating on, visited a fellow in Chicago with a huge Indiana Jones collection, and checked out original J.R.R. Tolkien manuscripts at Marquette University. Today I’m answering a ton of email and going to meetings.
How would someone else get a job like yours? Many people enter the museum field via specific museum-oriented degree programs. I started out at the Burke Museum at the University of Washington working a student job in the archaeology department, cataloging countless stone implements and other cool Native American artifacts. This lead to a job at EMP (or the Jimi Hendrix Museum as it was known at the time) as a cataloger in 1994. Over the past 17 years I progressed to the position I hold now.
What’s the best part of the job? For me, the best part of my job is that I get to work with such amazing content. No matter what exhibition I am working on, there’s always something fascinating and interesting on which to focus. If I can share my excitement for the content with our visitors, then the exhibition will be a success.
What surprises people about your job? I think it surprises many people how complicated creating an exhibition is, how much thought and care goes into the process, and how many people are involved. I end up being the public face of the exhibitions that I curate, but many dozens of individuals work in concert to produce each exhibition.