Welcome to #MuseumWeek2019! This social media event is an excellent opportunity to celebrate cultural themes across all of the museum’s social channels.
Today’s theme #WomenInCulture gives us the opportunity to celebrate some of the amazing women working at Glanmore National Historic Site.
Currently there are 6 women working at Glanmore. These women are all in varying stages of their careers in the cultural heritage field. Each brings unique skills and expertise to the museum. Four of the women work full-time at Glanmore, one works part-time, and another is seasonal. We sat down the museum’s female staff to ask them about working in the cultural heritage field at Glanmore.
Q:How long have you worked at Glanmore?
Rona Rustige, Manager of Museum Services: 29 years
Melissa Wakeling, education and marketing coordinator: 19 years
Danielle McMahon- Jones, exhibit development coordinator: 10 months in my current position. I actually started as a summer student at Glanmore in 2010 and volunteered from 2012-2013. I returned as an intern in 2014 and became a permanent staff member in 2015.
Meaghan Eckersley: 6 months
Mary Jane Throop, weekend receptionist: 22 years
Kate Lawler, temporary collections storage assistant: 1 week – I am on a seasonal contract until the end of August.
Q: Education/Experience Before Coming Here?
Rona: B.A. (hon) and M.A. both in Anthropology, plus the Ontario Museum Association Certificate in Museum Studies. I worked as education coordinator at the Marine Museum of the Great Lakes for 5 years and as curator at the Kingston Historical Society for three years. I also worked at the Museum of Health Care at Kingston for 13 years as Curator. In 2018 I was awarded a Distinguished Career Award from the Ontario Museum Association.
Melissa: I have B.A. in History and Anthropology from Trent University as well as the Museum Management and Curatorship Post-Graduate Certificate from Fleming College. Before coming to Glanmore and Belleville I worked in a variety of different heritage sites and community museums in both education and curatorial roles. Earlier this year I completed and received a Certificate in Cultural Planning from the University of British Columbia.
Danielle: I have a B.A. (hon) in History and English from Ottawa University. In 2014 I received a Post-Graduate Certificate in Museum Management and Curatorship from Fleming College. Most of my museum experience has been at Glanmore. Last year I was promoted from Administrative and Collections Assistant to my current job as Exhibit Coordinator.
Meaghan: I graduated from the Univeristy of Toronto with a B.SC. (hon) in in Anthropology/Archaeology. I also went to Fleming College for the Museum Management and Curatorship program. I worked seasonally as a park interpreter with Parks Canada for two years. For several years before joining the team at Glanmore I worked in the museum administration and collections management fields in the City of Kingston.
Mary Jane: I have a B.A. in Classical Archaeology, University of Ottawa (1970s). I completed a Museum Technician Program at Algonquin College, Ottawa (1981-1983) and a Museum Management Program, Sir Sanford Fleming College (1994). I have worked at several different museums before coming to Glanmore.
Kate: I studied the Applied Museum Studies program at Algonquin College. I worked as Collections Specialist for the City of Ottawa and also as a Costumed Interpreter at Lang Pioneer Village. I am currently working on a B.A. in History with Queens University.
Q: Explain your role at Glanmore:
Rona: I am responsible for the overall management of the museum including the accurate restoration of the site and for acquiring the funds for restoration projects. I am also responsible for physical care, management and accurate presentation of the artifacts.
Melissa: I coordinate all the education and public programs at Glanmore. I ensure that programs are well researched, accurate and authentic and train staff and volunteers to deliver programs. Another of my key responsibilities is centred around developing and maintaining content for the museum website, blog and social media platforms. The social media aspect has really become a big part of my job in the past few years.
Danielle: I work to display our regional collection in-house through seasonal exhibits and temporary exhibitions. I maintain our off-site exhibits at Fire Hall #1 and Belleville City Hall. It can be challenging to display our local history artifacts within the restored historic house so I develop outreach displays to highlight local history and the museum’s artifact collection. I also schedule and augment temporary exhibits coming in from other museums that will interest and delight the community.
Meaghan: With the administrative part of my position I coordinate our front desk reception and the volunteers that work there. I am also able to greet visitors and share the stories of the original residents as well as the museum’s amazing artifact collections. The collections part of my position is more hands on with artifacts. I apply all the standards for handling, care and storage of the artifacts. I am continually working to improve and increase the number of artifacts photographed and listed on our artifact database. I monitor the environment to ensure that relative humidity, temperature and light levels in the museum and storage do not negatively impact the artifacts.
Mary Jane: Monitoring the museum, providing information to visitors and answering questions on topic relating to Glanmore, and documenting information pertaining to the families who resides in the home. I also work to research and catalouge new acquisitions to the museum’s artifact collection.
Kate: In addition to assisting with museum programming when needed I am working directly with the museum’s archival collection to refine it. I will be examining each archival document and making sure that each piece strongly represents the museum’s mandate.
Q: What do you find important about preserving history?
Rona: People should understand and appreciate their heritage. It makes them better citizens.
Melissa: Preserving and learning about our history and heritage helps us feel more connected with our community and interconnected with one another.
Danielle: I believe that preserving history is important because it allows for exposure to lifestyles, values and perspectives that could otherwise be lost. Being able to immerse the visitor in an historic environment is an amazing way to make connections to those who came before us and how we live and relate to each other today.
Meaghan: Preserving history is important part of our work at the museum. It helps our communities grow to better understand where we have been. It is critical to make this information accessible to future generations so they can learn from our experiences.
Kate: Whoa, what a loaded question! Preserving our history ultimately aids in making sure these resources are available to people for a very long time. Looking back on our history and learning from it will always be important part of the human experience, we need to look back in order to move forawrd!
Mary Jane: You need to know where you came from and what happened before you. There are fun, crazy and interesting facts about Belleville and its area. When buildings disappear, people don’t remember. Making history fun for future generations help preserve it. Town Crier Bruce Beddell quoted, “a city without a past is a community without a future.”
Q: What does it mean to be a woman in the museum industry?
Rona: I never thought about it. I just did what I had to do.
Melissa: The women I work with in the museum field are well educated, creative, smart, funny, passionate, talented and interesting. I feel fortunate to work closely with a great group of women, the best part being that we are not in competition with each other, rather we are a team that supports one another and our individual talents allow each one of us to shine.
Danielle: Having the opportunity to preserve the past in the company of talented and creative women has been the most professionally stimulating and empowering experience. To me being a woman in the museum field means setting an example and providing a space to ignite a passion for history in others and to inspire girls to embrace their interest in history.
Meaghan: Growing up I didn’t see many women in heritage but thankfully, that has changed. Each person I have worked with has taught me something and I have been very fortunate to work with some pretty amazing women. Women are incredible contributors to the workforce and if I can inspire the next generation of heritage professionals by coming to work every day and doing what I love, I think that’s pretty great
Kate: In my experience the museum field has been largely female dominated. I think it is amazing to learn from the experience of other women in the field. It definitely feels like a privileged to see and work with so many strong women in this sector.
Mary Jane : I am proud to see how women in the cultural field have overcome the gender bias of the 1960s-1970s with regards to higher level positions and responsibilities. It also means that I need to be aware of my responsibility to young women coming in as students and volunteers. I want to encourage them in career goals and help them develop their skills while encouraging them to reach their full potential.
Q: Do you have a favourite artifact in the museum?
Rona: Many, many favourites. Probably the mermaid. There is also an 1890s pen with a beautiful carved dog’s head on the top of it. Also the dog paintings, of course!
Melissa: It seems impossible to choose just one but if I absolutely have to…We always say that the historic house is our number one artifact so I will have to go with that. Since the recent restorations, it is just great to observe the visitor’s reactions to the house as they come through the front door.
Danielle: My favourite artifact in the museum is the Dutch secretaire in the south drawing room. It is an exceptional example of 18th century marquetry and craftsmanship. It is a stunning piece of furniture and being able to inspect it up close and care for it is definitely a highlight of my job!
Meaghan: The miniature art gallery! The amount of time that went into that is incredible.
Kate: I like the chaperone’s chair in the south drawing room. It really makes me think about how dating has changed over time.
Mary Jane: The Victorian fan with its own fan box. I love the decorations painted on the fan.