150th Staff Spotlights: Part 2
Over the past 150 years, the Missouri Historical Society (which operates the Missouri History Museum and the Museum's Library and Research Center) has been fortunate to count numerous passionate and dedicated people in its ranks. Here's your chance to meet a few of the folks who keep the Museum and the LRC up and running.
I moved to St. Louis in 1989 to take a job as Public Services Librarian at the Missouri Historical Society. While I was very excited about the job, I was not expecting to stay at MHS more than a few years. I thought I’d get bored and move on.
Little did I know how strong the appeal of our incomparable collections, wonderful staff, and fascinating region would prove to be. And in 27 years, I have never been bored!
Lighting plays a key role in a visitor's ability to perceive and enjoy both the artifacts and information on display in an exhibition and in the building in general. Lack of consideration for visitors' visual comfort can potentially handicap an individual's ability to view displays. On occasion I have a light plot that will guide me when installing lights in our exhibitions, but in recent years my lighting applications have totally relied on my years of lighting experience. I must say, each exhibition has its unique challenges! Traveling exhibitions come with little or no lighting instructions, so it's totally up to me to make it happen—I enjoy that challenge.
I've been here for 26 years now, and out of all that time my favorite memory was working as a gallery attendant for Vatican Splendors. I enjoyed interacting with the many visitors who came out to learn about, enjoy, and appreciate this masterpiece. Every component of the exhibition struck up a conversation that was very special, something I will always remember.
I’ve worked at the Missouri History Museum for 14.5 years and am still in awe of the building, the people, and the work that has been produced. Lewis & Clark: The National Bicentennial Exhibition was my first project, and I started as the Cultural Tourism Coordinator, tasked with creating a network of partners to promote the exhibit. This network was not only within the St. Louis area but also around the state and along the Lewis and Clark Trail.
In 2004, I created a one-day Discovery Tour program to allow both visitors and locals to discover the sites relating to the 1904 World’s Fair and the Lewis and Clark story in St. Louis. Today there are eight one-day tours in the series and several multiday tours that go beyond the St. Louis area. These tours have a strong following and have created a nice community. This group loves to learn, is very engaged, and truly loves St. Louis stories. And there never seems to be a shortage of stories to tell! What makes me feel good is when I hear comments like “I’ve wanted to go there,” “How did you find this place,” “I’ve passed this place many times but never understood what it was,” or “I’ve lived here all my life and have never seen or been here before.” I’ve lived in the St. Louis area my entire life but never really knew it until I began working here. Through creating the Discovery Tour program I too have been discovering the wonderful stories and treasures of St. Louis, and I love getting to share them with our tour participants.
“It’s just a temporary job until I find something in social services again.” That’s what I used to say to friends who were surprised that I was working at the Missouri Historical Society. Well, after almost 20 years of working in the library of the Museum’s Library and Research Center, I don’t think I can say it’s a temporary job anymore. I’ve been thinking about what’s kept me here for all these years, and I don’t believe it’s just one thing. But a couple of things continue to come back to me.
The first is that there always seems to be something new to learn or do. That works well for me. The other thing is that I’ve had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of people, including staff, volunteers, and the public who use the library daily. The interactions with so many different people have been so rewarding. Maybe it’s just time passing, but I believe it’s how I’ve learned the most about myself. So far, it’s been a pretty good ride.
Having lived my entire life in St. Louis, I visited the History Museum as a child. Never did I imagine working here. It’s been 19 years, and I love coming to Forest Park and walking into the building each day. When I’m on the marble stairs in the Jefferson Memorial Building, I think about all those who used these stairs before me—Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Nettie Beauregard, Charles van Ravenswaay, and so many others.
Working here has afforded me many special memories. One that stands out is meeting my childhood hero, Bob Gibson. Shaking his hand at the opening to the exhibition Baseball as America, it seemed I was 11 years old again, watching the 1964 World Series when #54 led the Cardinals to victory. Not many people have memories like this, and I have MHS to thank.