What it’s Like to Be a Museum Curator

November 3, 2011 at 8:12 pm Leave a comment

Gwinnett Daily Post’s Kidsville News has a special section titled “What It’s Like To Be…” Recently, the paper’s mascot, Truman, interviewed Fernbank’s McClatchey Curator, Bobbi Hohmann, Ph.D., to talk about her work at the Museum. Here is a transcript of that interview:

TRUMAN: What does it take to become a museum curator at Fernbank Museum?
BOBBI: Of course you first have to love museums! Museum curators also typically have advanced degrees (Ph.D. or higher). In a natural history museum, degrees in fields such as anthropology, geology, paleontology or biology would be most helpful. I am an anthropologist with a specialization in archaeology.

TRUMAN: When and why did you first become interested in being a museum curator?
BOBBI: I worked in the Collections Department of an anthropology museum while I was in graduate school. That was my first job in a museum setting and I loved everything about it, from researching collections to helping install exhibitions.

Bobbi Hohmann, pictured in the “Reflections of Culture” gallery. Hats are an important way to display a person’s status in Kuba society. On ceremonial occasions, male and female title-holders or members of the royal family wear elaborately beaded hats to display their rank. The shape and decorations of a hat announces the individual’s status.

TRUMAN: What do you do every day? What’s a typical day on the job?
BOBBI: Every day is a bit different. I work on a wide variety of projects, many that involve working with other museum staff. On any given day I might teach a school program, research objects in the collection, work on a grant proposal, or help develop or install an exhibition.

TRUMAN: Your job sounds really fun. What’s the hardest part of your job?
BOBBI: I find that the most challenging part of my job is exhibit development. There are so many elements that must come together to create a great exhibit and so many different people involved in the process, that it takes a lot of effort to keep everything on track.

TRUMAN: What’s the best part of the job?
BOBBI: What I enjoy most is the fact that no two days are the same. I enjoy working on many different projects and learning something new every day.

TRUMAN: How has being a museum curator changed since you first started?
BOBBI: The role of a curator varies from museum to museum, so no two positions are exactly the same. Since coming to Fernbank my position has remained much the same, although I have taken on additional responsibilities.

TRUMAN: Would you do any other job if you could?
BOBBI: I love my job and would find it hard to do anything else.

TRUMAN: What is your favorite hobby or thing to do when you are not working?
BOBBI: I enjoy spending time with my family.

TRUMAN: What advice would you give to kids who are interested in becoming a museum curator?
BOBBI: I would urge anyone interested in working as a museum curator to volunteer their time working at a local museum. Fernbank Museum’s F.U.N. program (Fernbank’s Ultimate Naturalist) provides 12-17 year olds with hands-on experience working in a museum setting and engaging with the public. I’d also encourage kids to visit many different types of museums to explore what subject matter interests them so they can select the right course of study when they graduate and head to college.

If you are interested in learning more about careers in science, join us Saturday, November 12 for Fernbank’s Science at Hand Day. Explore different scientific fields, talk to real scientists and enjoy hands-on science activities during this special event. Learn more.

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About

At Fernbank Museum, there’s much more than dinosaurs and giant-screen films. Even with our website, e-newsletters, Facebook pages and Twitter updates, there’s still a lot we’d like to share with you. This blog is an opportunity for the people that keep Fernbank running and constantly expanding, to share stories from their point of view. We hope you’ll enjoy these first-hand, behind-the-scenes glimpses of what goes into keeping a world-class natural history museum running. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on these stories, to hear your personal experiences and hear any suggestions for topics. Happy reading!

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