Hello! My name is Gabrielle and I am from San Francisco, California, USA. I recently graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a masters in museum studies, and I’m so excited to join the Girl Museum team as I begin my museum career journey!
I’m a major history buff, and some of my hobbies include medieval embroidery reproduction and historical costume sewing. I’m specifically interested in the reproduction of middle class and working women’s clothing, which historically was not as documented as the clothing of the rich. I also enjoy researching fairy tales and folklore (a field that I almost chose for grad school!), and I’ve been on a quest to collect every color of Lang’s Fairy Books. I’m also an avid baker and enjoy celebrating Halloween as early as possible every year!
My dream job is to work as a museum curator, although I’ve recently also become very interested in exhibit development. I’m also passionate about the need for museum collections to become digitized and more readily available to a wider online audience, as accessibility is key to expanding the cultural influence and community importance of museums in the 21st century.
Although most of my favorite museums are history or art museums, one of my favorite museums is the Exploratorium in San Francisco. The Exploratorium is a science and technology museum which includes interactive exhibits that encourage the visitors to conduct their own experiments. This makes for a unique, tactile experience that teaches scientific concepts kinetically, and it seemed magical when I visited as a child. A museum gallery space can be incredibly intimidating to children, but the Exploratorium encourages young visitors to touch the exhibits and engage with the gallery space in a completely unique way for hands on learning. It makes advanced concepts like chemistry, biology, and physics not only accessible, but fun!
Like many girls, I shied away from sciences as I advanced through school, in part because I was made to feel like I did not belong in that space. In my opinion, one of the greatest issues facing girls today is the pressure put upon them to fit the expectations and desires of those around them, rather than trusting them with their own choices. There are constant reminders on all sides of what a girl “should” be, from family, friends, and media, and too often this can manifest in girls compromising their interests, their passions, and their agency. This can follow them all of their lives, and the expectation that you need to make yourself smaller or more palatable for others causes girls to stop themselves from pursuing their full potential. The best thing to learn, as early as possible, is that you are allowed to live for yourself, and that it’s not selfish to do so, but is a beautiful thing; I hope that we are getting closer to a world where all girls are allowed to embrace that!
-Gabrielle Van Amburg
Girl Museum Inc.