The Final Farewell

Good afternoon all,

I know you tire of reading this, but it is true that I have not been updating this blog. Nor have I decided that I will. As per my dad’s suggestion, it’s really better if I archive this as one piece, regarding my travels in the last year. To cap on this, however, I will provide you with one last post, with an update of my life here in Medford, MA, and my plans moving forward.

I moved to Boston from Delavan in the middle of July, when I was fairly quickly offered a job at Pier 1 Imports in Porter Square as a Sales Associate. It really was a nice place to work, not only because everyone is really congenial, but because it was a few minutes’ walk from where I lived at the time. Unfortunately, it was only a part-time position, and so in order to make ends meet I participated in numerous psych studies, offered through the different universities. In mid-August, I was offered two other positions- both in the museum realm!!!! I was simultaneously hired at the Tufts University Art Gallery as a “Gallery Ambassador” (aka Museum Attendant) and at the MIT Museum as a “Visitor Services Facilitator” (also read as Museum Attendant). Now that I had these two other positions (starting at the end of the month), I went to give my boss my two weeks notice. It was then when I learned that the Pier 1 Imports was closing at that location (due to Walgreen’s buying out their lease to compete with the CVS across the street), and that if I stayed until the close at the end of September I’d earn a bonus. Not wanting to miss out on extra money, I decided to keep with it, which is where my September became busy.

Besides these three jobs, I found myself taking three, not two, graduate classes. My original plan, which I had since I had learned of the class offerings for the fall, was to take the intro class (“Museums Today: Mission and Function”) as well as Collections Management. In meeting with my advisor, however (Dr. Hitchner, in the Classics Department), I learned that I would need to take some courses within the department for my elective. He strongly suggested a class of his, which I had to agree was particularly relevant. Therefore, I am now taking Classical Historiography as well, to give me an introduction to the methodology (which I had hitherto missed). This means that I had very little free time during the month of September, but now that Pier1 has closed (we officially vacated yesterday), my schedule is much freer…for me to fill up with other commitments. As of now, I work at the MIT Museum Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays from 9 am to 5 pm. The Tufts Art Gallery takes up my time on Wednesdays (from 10:45 to 1), Thursdays (10:45 to 4), and Fridays (10:45 to 2), with my classes falling in on Mondays from 6:30 to 9:30 pm (Collections), Wednesdays from 1:30 to 4 (Classical Historiography), and Thursdays from 6 to 9 (Museums Today). Now that Pier1 doesn’t take over my evenings, I can do other things…like work night events at the MIT Museum (the first of which I worked last night).

In speaking of my classes, let me give you a brief iteration of my impression of the Tufts Program, from the Orientation at the start of the semester (which I emailed to my professors at Beloit). Here is that email:

Hello All!

First, I apologize for the long email, but you wanted me to fill you in on the program, so here you are! You should watch what you wish for! (smirk)
Second, [D], it was great talking with you earlier today! I miss Beloit so much!
So, I have an update, now that I have completed my orientation for Tufts University! I feel kind of like a spy, and it feels awesome! haha
To start, the program seems awesome! The Museum Studies Certificate program runs through one of four departments: History, Art History, Classics, and Education. Each department has an academic advisor specific for the Museum Studies students. Obviously, I’m attending the program through the Classics department; the funny thing is that, out of 40-50 students, I’m the only one! The rest are pretty evenly divided into the other three.
The orientation itself was pretty short (about an hour and a half total). We were introduced to some of the graduated students, and the mentors (only two were able to make it- unfortunately, mine wasn’t one of them. I’ll be scheduling a time soon to meet with him), and then we went over the classes. These are the classes:

Fall 2012 Courses:
Museums Today: Mission and Function (i.e. Intro to Museum Studies)
Collections Management ❤ 🙂
Museum Education and Interpretation
Museums and New Media

Spring 2013 Courses:
Proseminar in Museum Education
Collections Care and Preservation
Curriculum Development for Museum-School Collaborations
Exhibition Planning of the Small Museum
The Meaning of Things: Historical Interpretation of Material Culture

Summer 2013 Courses:
Revitalizing Historic House Museums
Museum Evaluation
Philanthropy and Fundraising

And, of course, a museum internship (to be completed after I have taken at least three museum courses)

The Mission and Function class is pretty obvious, it provides a basic introduction to types of museums, mission statements, and all that fun (and theoretical) stuff. Collections Management (Hi [N]!) is also obvious- and I've signed up for it! However, it isn't like your class, as it focuses mainly on collections policy, AAM Accreditation, and accessioning. Other topics of Collections Management will apparently be covered in other classes. The other two are education courses. Museum Education and Interpretation will focus a lot on education theory as it pertains to museums, and how to adjust the experience for visitors of all ages/education levels, as well as discuss various interpretive techniques. The Museums and New Media focuses on how museums can utilize new technologies, such as video and podcasts, for educational purposes.

The Proseminar class is basically a capstone for museum educators. Because of this class, I can infer that the Tufts program must be REALLY good for those who want to go into museum education (to be remembered for your class, [D]). For example, this class delves into the question of "free-choice thinking" and gets into really hard-core education theory. It's also a research project- students in this course will create some kind of interpretive program, using their own interests, which will be added to a portfolio for their professional work. The Collections Care and Preservation course gets into all the REALLY fun aspects of your class, [N]- the mount and box-making labs, the materials lab, and proper handling. the professor will also talk about what types of chemicals work for what materials (giving a litle chemistry lesson- but not enough to scare away non-Bradlys! lol). She is a sculpture conservator, so she will be mainly focusing on art materials. I am considering this class for the Spring, but I'm debating with the Historical Interpretation class, in which we will learn how to analyze and interpret materials, and, of course, how to research them!!! So, yeah- research or curatorial care? We shall see what I choose! I doubt that I can do both, as I REALLY want to take the Exhibition Design Course, which is also self-explanatory. The class creates an exhibit in a semester, in this case on a Russian-born American artist, Boris Artzybasheff, whose information and collection is in the archives at the Boston Public Library. The final education course, the curriculum development course, wishes to discuss creating age-appropriate programming for a K-12 audience, and how to partner with schools.

Revitalizing Historic House Museums (taught by the same guy who co-teaches the exhibition course) looks at the historic house museum in the context of now- their numbers are declining, yet certain people project a "golden age" for the historic house museum. Why? What can be done to ensure this "golden age"? How do you run one of these small museums effectively? These are the questions for this class ([M], this class is for you!!!) The Museum Evaluation class walks students on how to evaluate an exhibit, or a whole museum, for the purposes of improving a museum. They will consider strategies, and then implement them in real-life (there really are a ton of museums and galleries out here to work with). Finally, there is the Philanthropy and Fundraising course- the business course that you have all suggested so strongly that museum studies students take! In it, students learn about grant-writing and other practical skills for "navigating the nonprofit world" (taken directly from handout we were given). It also goes over fundraising trends, methods, and even some marketing. I plan on taking this as well.

As to requirements, the program demands 4 courses (the introduction course and three others) and an internship (200 hours). The internship cannot be at a place where you have volunteered or worked, but other than that, there are no limitations. The program is set for someone to do at their own pace, but can be done in as little as an academic year (if you take three courses in the fall, then do the internship in the spring). I'm planning on taking a calendar year (completing the internship next summer). I also plan on auditing the philanthropy course. While I don't need the credit, I know that the information will be invaluable, and well worth it. You can audit here for $50 (just showing up- it doesn't appear on official transcripts), or for $500 (actually appears on the transcripts). The full tuition per course is $2570 (you pay per course in the certificate program). Any certificate student can change to a masters if s/he wishes (they make it very simple, apparently). As to some of the departments, there may be other requirements on top of the museum ones (or limits as to which course to take). For example, the education students MUST take the proseminar (and therefore, its prerequisite), but by and large it seems to be a pretty easy-going program. That's kind of all I have right now. I could go into particulars about the intro course (I already have the syllabus), but this email is already long enough, haha.

Hope that you all are well!

Best,
Devon

There you go, a brief internal view of the program, for those of you interested in Museum Studies, and who are considering Tufts for your graduate program!

To finish this final post, I wish to inform you all that I am still considering UCL for my Masters program (my interview for the Fulbright program is next Friday), but if not, I do still have other options for beyond this year, including staying in Boston, or moving to another city. As for right now, I am going to be starting a website, with the help of a friend in one of the graphic arts/web design graduate programs. The goals of this website are twofold: a) professional development (including allowing artists to contact me about potential employment in arts preparation) and b) a new blog of research I conduct. This WILL be updated weekly (unlike this blog), as I have a clearer focus and will set myself a weekly deadline to post something. These posts could, and will, cover numerous topics: from the continuing political strife in the Middle East (especially as it relates to the archaeological sites and tourism), archaeological finds/research, class research, museums, and even religion if the topic fancies me. This blog is for professional development and discussion, something to point to for potential employers to view. This blog will be archived as a time capsule of my experiences, to be viewed at any time. Please keep an eye out for it!

For now, I wish you all farewell!
Au revoir!
Masalam!
Gule gule!
Aufedersein!
Farvel!
Bless!

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