Hi! I’m Jessica and I was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI, USA. I have loved museums for as long as I can remember: seeing artifacts, learning new things, and hearing people’s stories and seeing what they created. After 9 years working in the administration side of non-profit healthcare, I went back to school to earn my Masters in Library and Information Sciences to be an archivist. While in the process of my MLIS education I discovered that my school also had a Graduate Certificate for Museums Studies and I promptly applied for and was accepted into the program.
While attending Graduate Museum Studies classes I had the opportunity to research a pewter stein from around the time of the American Revolution. The donation paperwork did not include a lot of information so I focused my research on pewter, maker’s marks, and the donor. A part of the project was to find a location in the museum to display the artifact. I then stepped into the display area and measured the light, humidity, and temperature of the area to ensure the artifact would be safe in that area.
During a separate project I also had the opportunity to research a broad topic and present my findings and an exhibit to members of the museum. My topic was Native American Code Talkers in World War I and World War II. I designed my exhibit, wrote labels, created a hand’s on visitor experience matching code words to pictures of military equipment/words. I spent time connecting with a visitor who had served in WWII and in turn he started sharing his memories with his family and other visitors. It was a very moving experience.
Recently, I was lucky enough to take part in the Open Palace Programme where I got to attend workshops held by museum workers around England. The programme was filled with museum professionals from four different countries. We discussed best practices, new technologies, and learned new skills such as how to plaster the walls of a Regency Era house.
When not gushing about museums, and working in healthcare, I spend a lot of my time supporting Milwaukee. I am a member of three museums, the Film Fest, and the Symphony/Orchestra/Performing Arts Center. I attend upwards of 30 concerts yearly at Milwaukee’s historic and new venues. I participate in charity events such as Empty Bowls, and The Turkey Club which donates to food pantries in Milwaukee and the surrounding counties. I love supporting Milwaukee’s food scene — we have a huge number of independent restaurants for most any cuisine and there are events to support them too, such as Downtown Dining Week. My other hobbies include reading fiction, traveling around the US and internationally, making chainmaille jewelry, and good old fashioned pen-paling.
I have had a difficult time deciding what area of a museum I want to work in — I love researching and writing about objects and topics to help people engage with the objects and the museum, I love programming events, for every age, to bring people into museums and help them fall in love with and enjoy museums and the many things they have to offer, I love taking care of the museum’s items so they can continue to educate and awe future visitors.
I have had many dream jobs but one that encompases many of them is being a Museum Archivist. It would intertwine my love of museums, and preserving documentation, with facilitating research while performing outreach and advocacy. I have always dreamed of working in another country, and loved living and working in England when I was younger, so working in a museum in England would suit me.
My favourite museum, though I am very disgusted by war, is the Imperial War Museum in London (the one in Manchester is beautiful, too). There is something at this museum that I connect with on an emotional level in a way that I cannot describe with words. I also thoroughly enjoy visiting the British Library to see their permanent and temporary exhibits. I love touring local historical houses such as the Pabst Mansion here in Milwaukee, too.
One of the biggest issues facing girls that I know is that they still lack access to equal opportunities. Girls and women need to work harder to be taken seriously; they are doubted and perceived negatively when they are assertive they are passed over for positions because of their gender. I want the young girls in my life and around the world to be heard (not just seen), to be believed and taken seriously, and to be in positions of power.
I believe that museums, archives, and historical societies make a difference in people’s lives — allowing them to experience new and exciting things, form new understandings, and can bring people closer together and I am excited to be able to help visitors learn about girls and girlhood while advocating for girls.
Girl Museum Inc.