Director's Blog

Director's Blog

Year One...

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center - Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Today marks my one-year anniversary as Director of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. It’s hard to believe that a year ago I left academia to jump into museum management and the world of state government. It’s truly been a whirlwind of a year that felt more like sprinting at times, but I know that we’ve (myself and the museum) all come out of it in a better place than when we started. In some ways it’s hard to think back to my early days at MTCC. I mostly remember my first week as being really exhausting and probably a little overwhelming as I tried to learn a bunch of new names and processes. Beyond that I guess you could summarize everything into the categories of things I learned and things I’m really proud of. So here goes…

Things I Learned

  • Museum people are really cool. I always knew librarians are cool (I am one after all), but it has been a really enriching experience to meet and work with other museum people in Arkansas as well as meet people across the country who want to make their spaces better for their communities. I walked away from the AAM Annual Meeting feeling hopeful about the trajectory that the museum community is headed in and eager about whatever my part might be in that.
  • I never realized how rewarding it would be to work in a Black history museum. It would be easy to talk about folks like Korto Momolu or AJ Smith or Kevin Cole or any number of artists who drop by the museum on any given week. Yet, what I’ve found to be really special is the everyday stories that people share about their own experiences in Arkansas. Whether they share about nightlife on Historic West Ninth Street or growing up in rural Arkansas, each story is one more piece at understanding the history of the state. #blackhistoryisARhistory

Things I’m Really Proud Of

  • Bees and chickens and other experimental things. I jokingly tell friends that working at a museum is like working in a big idea box because we’re uniquely positioned to experiment and try new things. I loved getting to see crazy ideas like exposing city kids to farming through the rich lens of African American farmers (aka why we had bees at the museum) or the launch of Arkansas Made Black Crafted or creating a photo booth to personalize a photography exhibit come to fruition. It’s rewarding to operate in an environment where we can say yes and live in the world of possibilities.
  • #InclusiveArkansas. I’m a firm believer in opening doors and creating/curating spaces for folks to interact with history. #InclusiveArkansas is something that was created out of the reality that most museum spaces (and many places in general) are not welcoming/inviting/fun filled places for people with special needs. If we’re going to be a museum that is for all Arkansans then we need to truly be a museum for ALL Arkansans and not just the ones who think/feel/learn/play/communicate/read the way we do. This initiative continues to be something that is evolving, but I’m excited about the direction we’re heading.
  • My extraordinary staff! I would be the first to admit that I came in with some clear ideas and direction for how I wanted to shape the museum during my tenure as Director. For a staff that has experienced a lot of leadership change, I have appreciated their willingness to jump aboard and work with me to make the museum a better place.

So overall I would say this has been a great first year! I’m excited/nervous for the challenges ahead (I’m looking at you AAM Accreditation) and for the ways in which we (the museum staff) will continue to work together to shape MTCC into a dynamic, engaging, awesome Black history museum!

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