Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at Girl Museum? What goes into making the online museum that you know and love? Well look no further, because the lovely ladies at Girl Museum have kindly agreed to be interviewed by yours truly. So let‚Äôs find out what makes the Girl Museum world go around‚Ä¶
Next on our list of Girl Museum superstars is none other than our Social Media Manager Katie Weidmann! We caught up with Katie to learn a little more about her Girl Museum journey‚Ä¶
How did you get involved with Girl Museum? What was it that drew you to the organisation?
In late 2009 I was getting ready to move to the UK after 3 or so years of unemployment in the US. Every week I get the University of Leicester Museum Studies Jobs Desk email, and there was a posting for volunteers for a virtual museum, which said I could work anywhere in the world. As a feminist, the idea of girl studies was intriguing, if not directly my field of interest (at the time). Everything lined up: timing‚ÄìI wouldn’t be able to work in the UK for a further year‚ÄìI needed more relevant experience for my CV, and I wanted to do something meaningful. Girl Museum seemed like the right choice.
As Social Media Manager, what does a typical Girl Museum day look like for you?
Like most of us at Girl Museum, this is a side gig of sorts. My day job is at a cooperative bakery, where I’m a cook, barista, and former director. So there’s less of a “typical day” at Girl Museum as there are tasks I need to do regularly, whether that’s fitting them in on my days off, or in the evenings after or mornings before work. Though my title is officially Social Media Manager, most of my work actually revolves around managing the blog and editing. I edit, upload, and format all the posts on the blog. I also develop and assist in developing blog columns. Managing the blog also includes some basic SEO and running regular security scans on the site. I like admin, so I tend to lean in that direction (I’m very anal-retentive, or in covering letters, an “organizational zealot.”).
Those are my “typical” tasks. In addition, I edit everything that comes across my desk (so to speak). Primarily that’s exhibitions, looking at everything from typos to punctuation, phrasing for clarity, and general proofreading (extra spaces, consistency in formatting and style, etc.). Though I focus on proof-reading and technical errors, line-editing (flow and readability) is my personal interest. I do very little fact-checking however. I also edit proposals (grants, partnerships, etc.), internal documents, and assist with conference presentations (both ones I attend/present at and others). I write as needed, whether it’s for the blog, an exhibition, or something else. I also do some curatorial and related work, whether it’s expanding Illustrated Girls, working on some upcoming exhibitions, or blog based, such as the Women’s History Month events. And lastly, I’m usually willing to help out on something if someone asks me.
What do you think an online museum has that a physical museum does not?
Online museums have a reach that goes far beyond a physical museum. There are brick and mortar museums with amazing websites (the V&A is one), but with few exceptions, those websites are heavily based on promoting the physical collection. Girl Museum is different: all our exhibitions are online, all our curatorial notes and statements are there, not just photos of the objects. We’re not just an extension of a “real museum”. The whole museum is there, not just the “best bits” or the stuff in storage. It seems a small thing in many ways, but I think it’s a very different experience, visiting a museum site designed to bring all of the museum to the web‚Äìas in the case of Girl Museum‚Äìas opposed to one that highlights bits of the collection. And that reach is access is so many ways. Not just being able to visit any time of day or night from anywhere in the world, but by providing the full experience that anyone would have. I love that the British Museum put a lot of their collection online and provided pretty extensive notes, but my experience of seeing a picture of the Isle of Lewis chess set isn’t the same as someone who saw it at the British Museum. Girl Museum’s experience is the same for every visitor.
Do you have a favourite exhibition from the Girl Museum catalogue? If so, then why?
Illustrated Girls is my favorite in terms of content, with Gamer Girl a close second. Both are topics very close to my heart, and I worked on the original IG launch, and then took lead on the expansion we did recently. I love the topic and content of IG, and with Gamer Girl I love the topic, timeliness, external participation, and reach. But I love the look of Home and Away, and the layout of STEM Girls. I like everything we do, but those are my favorites for varying reasons.
Stay tuned for our next interview with the¬†incomparable Hillary Hanel, Education Advisor and teachers’ advocate extraordinaire!
Girl Museum Inc.