What exactly do you do?

Other than questions about how old my baby is, the most frequent thing I get asked is, “What do you do?” I generally assume that people mean “what do you do to make money” so I generally leave out the part about being a mom and cooking and raking leaves and reading books and playing peekaboo.

I do a couple of different things. Sometimes I teach classes. I’ve taught history and museum studies classes at three of the universities in Memphis where I’ve taught online and in the classroom. My favorite class to teach is introduction to museum studies. It’s one of my favorite subjects, my students generally have great ideas and it is lots of fun to share something I’m passionate about with people who mostly feel the same way.

My main money-paying gig is as a museum professional. I work in exhibits, and I’ve spent the past several months doing primary research for a major redesign at my museum. I’m compiling a massive narrative that we will use to write the panels and labels. I also find photographs and other images that we can use and secure the use rights for them, which includes figuring out who owns them. As an offshoot of this ongoing research, I’m reorganizing our staff library and museum archives and digitalizing the card catalog so that it’s usable. (I say “I,” a volunteer and amazing intern are helping tremendously.) I also use a lot of my research to write the museum’s blog, which I repost here when the posts go live because I’m proud of them.

I also help install and deinstall exhibits. Since I’m not super strong and my coworkers are much better at using power tools, I tend to help condition report artifacts when it’s time for a new exhibit. I can mount labels, and I’ve been known to have curatorial input. I firmly believe that I have the best job in the museum.

While both of those jobs are personally and financially fulfilling, I also love the job that pays in smiles, slobbery kisses and drool. Museums are great. And so are babies.

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One thought on “What exactly do you do?

  1. I get to work with Caroline which is one of the best parts of my job. If there is anything around the museum that Caroline cannot master, I have yet to witness it. Because most people subscribed to this blog are probably friends of Caroline this is not a surprise to you. But because she is the mother of a baby she is not at the museum every day. I find my day to be better when I pull in the parking lot and see her bike or her car already here. There are major changes coming to the Pink Palace museum. Especially the mansion. The plan that we have developed is different from anything that you have ever seen at 3050 Central avenue. It is very another of Caroline’s babies. Her research has shined a light on corners of the story of the Pink Palace that we didn’t even know existed. Her highly-informed ultra-brainy and slight-crazed take on the museum’s past has shaped the nature of our future. Memphis is a better place because Caroline has chosen to give her talents to us. We are lucky.

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