Hello and Welcome Back!
It’s graduation time in academia! A time to pass torches, hand over keys, etc. As rising second year students in the Tufts Museum Studies program, we are very excited to take over where Dominque and Andrea left off, and we wish them heartfelt congratulations and lots of luck as they make their way into the museum world.
For our first post, we want to take a moment to introduce ourselves and let you know who we are and what we hope to bring to the blog this year. We also want to hear from you, to make sure this space responds to what you want to have in a museum studies blog. Please leave comments or drop us a line at our email in the sidebar.
With that, please bear with us for the long post this week and allow us to introduce ourselves!
Danielle Bennett, Museum Studies and History
Hi, I’m Danielle and I’m so pleased to be co-piloting this blog through the next year! I am a student in the Museum Studies and History program so I hope to bring you news and perspectives on that side of the museum field from little historic houses to large institutions.
I study American history, and am particularly interested in the intersections of race, gender, and class as the United States industrialized and took on the dimensions we know today. I am deeply interested in civics education in the United States and believe that museums have a large role to play as informal educators of both students and adults. I am a believer of the importance of polyvocality within museums – both on the exhibit floor and in the development stages, and strongly believe in grounding museums within their communities for mutual benefit. I hope to highlight these issues in the blog in coming months.
I received my BA in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, which was undoubtedly an influence on my historical interests. I am based in New York City, where I spent time working as a political and labor organizer before spending several years at a telecommunications tech startup. I am currently a Teaching Assistant for the Tufts History Department and I work as the Social Media Manager for the Alice Austen House in Staten Island, NY. This historic house museum gets to weave threads about an early female LGBTQ figure, New York City history, and photography into a unique story with a lot of contemporary resonance. If you’re ever in New York, make sure you pay us a visit! I’ll also soon be interning with New-York Historical Society, one of the first museums in the country, with a collection that ranges from Tiffany Lamps to vintage board games, to protest signs from the 2017 Women’s March, and beyond! I hope to share perspectives on presenting history influenced by both of these organizations.
Amanda S. Wall, Museum Studies and Education
I am Amanda and am so excited to be your new Museum Education Editor. I am originally from New York by way of Los Angeles and have just completed my first year in the Museum Education M.A. program. My journey to Museum Education started as a child with a love for museums and archaeological sites. I loved learning everything and was always so enthused to share what I learned with others. Museums were a way to connect with the past to understand the present. This love led me to pursue a B.A. in Anthropology and a minor in Spanish, concentrating in Bioarchaeology, at SUNY New Paltz. While at New Paltz, I had the chance to conduct research on a newly discovered skeletal population culminating in a final project and poster on sex determination. I also had the opportunity to attend an Archaeological field school at the National Historic Landmark, Historic Huguenot Street. Upon graduating, I chose to serve as an AmeriCorps volunteer with City Year New York working with students at an East Harlem elementary school.
Although I loved both archaeology and education, I wasn’t clear on how I could pursue both interests until I began volunteering at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. I started as a Gallery Interpreter, becoming certified in five different exhibitions as a Docent-in-Training, before moving on to the Vertebrate Paleontology collections team where I worked rehousing, inventorying, and researching archival techniques. My experience at NHM led me to realize that a profession in the Museum field would be a perfect way to merge my two academic interests. In the coming year I will be interning with the MIT Museum and the Tsongas Industrial History Center. In my free time I love to hike, travel, and play with my dog. As the Tufts Museum Studies Blog’s Museum Education Editor I will be focusing on museums and the public sphere, both in terms of education and how we are relating to and engaging our public.
Kelsey Petersen, Museum Studies and Art History
Hello everyone! My name is Kelsey Petersen, and I will be representing the art history side of Tufts’ Museum Studies program! Before I introduce myself, I would like to say a big thank you to Andrea and Dominique for this past year of thought-provoking discussions, helpful job postings, marvelous newsletters, and of course for their enthusiasm for all things ‘museum.’ We’ll miss you, and best of luck as you launch into your next stage of museum work!
It surprised me how fast my first year as a Master’s candidate in art history and museum studies flew by; in some ways it feels like we were just in Museums Today, debating the Berkshire Museum and exploring the multifaceted roles museums cast in our communities. As I reflect on my coursework over these past two semesters, I realize my favorite areas of learning occurred when discussions from my art history and museum studies courses intersected. For example, I first learned about decolonization methodologies in Museums Today, when I studied the Abbe Museum as a case study of a museum that has transformed its display, collecting, and consulting practices to prioritize Wabanaki voice. These critical methodologies are what I often ground myself in, whether it is in an African Art seminar or Exhibition Planning. Overall, I hope to bring these interdisciplinary intersections with me into my new role as co-editor, and further connect art historical approaches to the museum world.
Now for a little about my background: I grew up in the Bay Area, California and lived in Los Angeles as an undergraduate, so I must confess my first New England winter was a little challenging to get used to (although I did enjoy all the activities that came with it, like cider donuts and snow days). Now that spring is here and the sun is back out, I’m excited for more bike rides! Wherever I go, my bike and a book are usually not too far away.
My first entry point into the museum world was when I worked in a visitor services position at a contemporary art museum. I quickly fell in love with the power of art to connect people and ideas, and wanted to become more involved with the behind-the-scenes aspect of programming. After interning in the education department at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, I knew for sure this labor of love was for me, and decided to pursue my Master’s for more related opportunities. Since moving to Boston and starting the Tufts’ program, I started a collections internship at the Fitchburg Art Museum, and have happily discovered another possible career niche. Ultimately, this first year in the Tufts’ dual program has been incredible, and I can’t wait for another year of enjoyable challenges, new perspectives, and learning.
We are really looking forward to further exploring and discussing the museum world with you, and we welcome you to contribute as guest author at any time!