WESTERN ILLINOIS MUSEUM: The Work of Ten Years
Western Illinois Museum issued the following announcement on Sept. 4.
This is an image taken by Tim Schroll of me on the third floor of Sherman Hall on the WIU campus in 2015. I was on campus to bring a few of our artifacts to an event. While I waited for the guests to arrive, Tim captured this image. Not only is it a beautiful piece of photography, it speaks to me about the history of the Western Illinois Museum and my involvement.
I began working part-time at the museum in August of 2008, just a few months after moving to Macomb. Much has changed over the last ten years. More recently a few of the people I worked with early on have passed away. Frequently, daily even, I take a step forward and consider what their thoughts would be on this or that issue the museum is facing.
This image shows me looking out of Sherman Hall’s window, the home of the museum from 1974 to 2001. I see this image as a representation of how I often see my role at the museum. The transition from Sherman Hall to downtown Macomb was accomplished before I began working at the museum. The new possibilities were vast. To sustain the museum, I found myself having to take the long view, like in this photograph, looking out into the future to navigate the next sustainable chapter for the museum.
The recent building renovation work is the largest undertaking I have managed for the museum. It is the culmination of work by many people who have come together to “make something happen.” Change is hard but inevitable. Change is necessary and healthy for an organization. Walking the line of honoring the past while being innovative, is the path I have chosen in my work at the museum. So many people have walked with me, pointed to new directions and pushed me to understand more. Thank you.
My idea of what a museum can be has broadened as I have been privileged to learn people’s history alongside our visitors. Often it has challenged the idea that artifacts under glass are the only thing a museum should present. It is so much more. The community we build around those items and the stories they convey are far more insistent, wanting to be heard as they reveal nuances of our lives that are often not available anywhere else. Whether it’s recording an oral history or getting together for a potluck, (Yes, I now own a Crockpot!) my work at the museum over the last ten years has built a belief that people’s history and a community’s culture needs to be shared by those who own them. My vision is that our museum respects and honors our shared history, even my brief ten-year history, while we together navigate our next steps into the future.
Original source can be found here.