Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

Museum Job Roundup 12/3/23

Welcome to the weekly roundup! We do our best to collect the latest job openings and welcome submissions from the community. For more opportunities, we recommend the following databases:






What Does It Mean to be a “History Person”?

In my junior year of high school, I remember getting into an argument with my mom while sitting at the bus stop one morning. I can’t remember if I was actually failing AP US History or if I was just consistently doing poorly on the assignments, either way, my mom was upset with me because in her eyes, it should be easy–“everything already happened.” It was difficult to articulate to her that the reason why I was struggling was because the way history was taught to me, and how lots of history is taught in schools, was the lecture-heavy name and date memorization of events and people, with the occasional necessity of knowing why x caused y event.

What I told her instead, and what I’ve been telling people for years, is that I’m just “not a history person.” I wasn’t like my mom, who would look at every plaque in every city we ever visited, and seemed to know all kinds of things about US history that I couldn’t remember or wasn’t particularly interested in. I certainly wasn’t like my dad, who knew the most random history facts, usually related to obscure Indiana history and automotive/airplane/ship history. But since starting at Tufts and getting my job at the Freedom Trail, I’ve had to reevaluate my stance on what it means to be a “history person.”

For most of my life I’ve thought of history as a dry subject. Maybe every so often it was interesting, but for the most part, it just seemed like names and numbers to me without any real connection to myself or the world around me. I may have been an education major in college, but I did take copious English classes and that was where I really clicked–these were stories. They didn’t have to be real people, or real events, but there was always a truth to them, and that was what connected with me.

What I didn’t realize at the time or earlier in my life, was that I had been learning history against my will and having fun while doing so on multiple occasions. The most memorable instance has to be what my family refers to as “the Great American Road Trip” which was a road trip that me, my (history nerd) mom, my sister, and one of our cousins all went on from Las Vegas, Nevada to Fort Wayne, Indiana. We went to National Parks, State Parks, the Corn Palace in South Dakota, Wall-Drug (also South Dakota), ghost towns–all the time learning about people and places as we went. But it never felt like I was learning history because I was getting to see amazing sights, eating berries on the way up to the Lewis & Clark memorial (not advised–we had no clue if they were edible for humans), and spending time with my family.

Yet even after this experience, which I had when I was ten or eleven, I still didn’t consider myself a “history person.” Making the connection between histories and stories wouldn’t come until I got my very first job at a museum, where I had to learn about the history of the Ball family (of Ball jar fame) and very quickly realized I had multiple connections with the folks I talked about almost every day. The Ball brothers are from Buffalo, New York and their uncle, who loaned them the starting money to buy the company that would become Ball canning, was the founder of Keuka College–one of my best friends lives near Keuka Lake, so I know the area well. In the town of Muncie, Indiana, which is where Minnetrista Museum & Gardens (home of the Ball jar) is located, has a well-known statue, “Appeal to the Great Spirit”, which is actually a replica of the statue in front of the MFA Boston. Lastly, Ball State University, a school named after the Ball brothers, has a statue of a winged woman named “Beneficence” designed by Daniel Chester French, which resembles another winged woman statue of his, “Angel of the Waters,” which is located in the Boston Public Gardens. All of these simple connections between the lives of the Ball brothers and my own helped their legacy to feel more real and more present to me.

Now, as a Tufts student studying museums and working in a history space, I’ve softened to the idea that perhaps I am a history person. After all, I’ve learned more about the American Revolution in the three months I’ve worked for the Freedom Trail than I ever knew before. But perhaps more importantly than whether or not I am a “history person” is the idea that anyone can be interested in history if you find a way to connect. In all my resistance to history I missed out on my connection even though it’s literally in the word–story. History is just stories, stories of real people, real lives, and it has the power to uplift, to erase, to connect, or to exclude, depending on whose story is being told (or not told). My hope is that as I continue to go through the program and get older, I keep opening my mind to the possibility of the “story” part of history, and use that as a way to connect people to history and maybe get them to be open to or newly consider themselves a history person, even if I’m not all the way there yet.


For the Museumgoer With SAD

I’m sure that everyone has adapted (maybe begrudgingly so) to the 5pm darkness and the beginnings of coat weather, but what makes me a fan of this time of year is the cozy spots to curl up in and the ease of making indoor plans. This is all fun and exciting in the beginning….


…until Seasonal Affective Disorder hits. 


Every year, humans of the northern hemisphere experience less sunlight in the winter and find their moods lower as a result. While this time of year is marketed as a time of joy and cheer, sometimes it can be hard to access with upcoming deadlines, exams, or just general end of year chaos. In short, sometimes we all need a good cold weather cry. 


Remember when I said I once cried in the Met? I was a sophomore in college in NYC and had a very rough week – deadlines were coming up, there was friend and family drama, it felt like the world was closing in. So I went to the place that made me happiest in the city: the Degas gallery in the Met. But somehow even the ballerinas couldn’t cheer me up. I wandered the galleries on that quiet Thursday morning until I found myself in front of a giant stone Buddha. I sat on the bench in front of it and sobbed for a few minutes. A guard came over and we discussed art and why I loved museums so much. Because of that day, I decided that I wanted to teach in museums and help others to find the same comfort that I find in them. 


Since that day, I have been compiling a list of top spots to let it out in museums I have visited, as well as spots friends have told me about. This is one iteration of that list, primarily based here in MA. Places that are free are marked with an asterisk. 

  • The New England Aquarium

It’s no Mystic, but it has plenty of dim lighting and enough constant chatter that a sob here and there won’t be too out of the realm of reason for other patrons. If you go on a weekend, odds are there is a small child crying somewhere in the building. You’ll have a buddy!

  • Museum of Fine Arts

There are so many nooks and crannies in this place that would be perfect for a little cry. My personal recommendation is the Shapiro Courtyard or the bathrooms just down the stairs from there. The mummy gallery is also a good spot – low lighting, a macabre vibe, and fewer people. 

  • Paul Revere House

Maybe I’m biased because I work there, but I find the site comforting. The house has seen hundreds of years of foot traffic, and there is a great classroom on the ground floor of the visitor’s center that doesn’t see much traffic and can offer a space out of sight for the private breakdown.

  • Peabody Essex Museum

This is one cool museum with a lot going on. Personally, I would recommend the maritime galleries. There are little pods where you can watch a video about a specific piece and are just private enough. The first gallery also has a great soundscape and fun lights. If you are someone who loves boats, this is a great place to cry in a super cool town. Bonus points if you go at this time of year when Salem is quiet.

  • Harvard Art Museums*

With a great cafe (try the lemonade!) and thousands of years of history and art, you can’t go wrong with HAM. There are many galleries with audio installations, but my personal favorite quiet place is in gallery 1610 where there is a big golden ball in the middle of the space. There’s something calm and contemplative about being in a space with several depictions of Buddha.

  • Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

It may seem a bit off the beaten path, but hear me out. Yes, this is a busy and occasionally cramped museum. However, there are 3 spots I would say could be good for a cry. The first is the hallway where the bathrooms are in the older building. The second is by the coat check in the new building, and the third is the back part of the contemporary gallery space. Often this is where the museum poses questions to visitors about their interpretations of the works on display.

  • USS Constitution Museum

Something about boats, revolution, and the inevitable earworm of “My Heart Will Go On” make this a good spot. The wind can get you pretty hard when you stand on deck. You’re not crying, the Boston weather is just mean. 

  • New England Ski Museum*

Located at the base of Cannon Mountain in Franconia, NH, this volunteer-run establishment is just yards from the oldest aerial tramway in the country. Go see some snow, maybe take a ride to the top and have a Sunday morning cinnamon roll at 4080’. The exhibits in the museum are pretty cool too!

  • Mystic Seaport

There are so many places to go and buildings that are just fun. You can learn about maritime industries, build a boat out of wood scraps, or just play pretend in the apothecary. Lots of great private spots, and some cool things to hear about – the admission will certainly convince you to spend a day there. 

  • Addison Gallery of American Art*

Every few months, the museum changes all of its galleries and exhibition spaces. There is a great library with a book ladder a la Beauty and the Beast (tragically it doesn’t move like it does in the movies) and some comfy green chairs that migrate throughout the galleries. Currently they are in the largest upstairs gallery. The town of Andover is also very walkable and has several fun little spots to eat, some greenery to experience, and some great small businesses. 

Museum Job Roundup 11/27/23

Welcome to the weekly roundup! We do our best to collect the latest job openings and welcome submissions from the community. For more opportunities, we recommend the following databases:






Note from the Editors

As we approach the end of Native American Heritage Month, we recognize the continuing effects of settler colonialism and genocide on Native people. We also want to recognize the power, resiliency, and leadership of so many Indigenous people. We encourage you to take the opportunity to reflect and learn more about the issues facing Native people as well as how we can all be allies in advocating for Indigenous sovereignty and human rights. Museums are not and have never been neutral. It is the opinion of the Tufts Museums Studies Blog that museums must take a stand on issues of human rights and become sites of activism as well as safe and welcoming spaces to discuss fraught issues. 


The TMSB Editorial Team

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