What's it like to work in a museum? Each year, two graduate students get an opportunity to work in GMD as a communications assistant and a collections assistant. This year, the two grad students were Caitlin Cohn (MA apparel studies, minor museum studies, PhD Student apparel studies) and Jenny Parker (MFA graphic design, minor museum studies). Both Jenny and Caitlin aspire to work in museums.
Caitlin: I have worked at GMD as communications assistant (2010-2011) and collections assistant (2011-2012). Working at GMD has given me a wide range of experiences that will be invaluable as I pursue a career working in museums. As communications assistant, I worked on developing GMD's blog, which Jenny has refined. Given my focus on dress, history and culture, I especially enjoyed working in collections. I was fortunate enough to co-curate an exhibition, Polarities: Black and White in Design with Jean McElvain, PhD, GMD's assistant curator. I also worked on writing descriptions of objects and pulling pieces to show in History of Costume. I am grateful to GMD for giving me this opportunity to begin on the path toward becoming a museum professional.
Jenny: This year, as the communications assistant, I wanted to focus on making GMD more visible, and communicating all of the diverse programs and activities we do behind the scenes. I was proud to come to work at GMD each day, feeling like I was contributing to our mission, and realizing new goals for our future. As an emerging museum professional, it was extremely beneficial for me to work on multiple tasks in a small museum like GMD, allowing me to understand the way GMD functions, and get an idea of the inner-workings of all museums. Through this experience I have come to realize how much I love working in museums. GMD has not only been a great place for me to grow and learn, but has become a home, one that I will greatly miss! Here I have learned that a museum is not just defined by the objects in the collection or the exhibitions in the galleries, but also by the staff and volunteers that make it all possible; and I am honored to have been a part of this family for a short time.
Jenny and Caitlin have not only learned from their experiences, but have helped GMD realize new goals for next year's graduate assistants. We are excited to welcome this year's collections assistant Natasha Thoreson (a former GMD volunteer), and communications assistant Sharlene Balik. We look forward to seeing how their unique strengths contribute to GMD in the coming year!