USF's Museum Blog

What I learned this summer in Brooklyn

By Laura Harvey

I learned a lot about the museum field and a lot about myself during my summer graduate internship working on Family Access Programs at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum (BCM).

IMG_0351Here is my top ten list of lessons learned:

  • I love the museum field. I have been reminded multiple times why I got into this field and why I love it so much. The Family Access Programs have really made me appreciate children’s museums and all that they can do for a community. Those days have also reaffirmed my belief that this is what I want to do in my life.
Laura Harvery making  ice cream during the Family Access Day: Making a Cool Treat program in Brooklyn

Laura Harvery making ice cream during the Family Access Day: Making a Cool Treat program in Brooklyn

 

  • I love the people who work in the museum field. I loved getting to know the staff and the animals. I have made some real friends at BCM, not just co-workers. This field is fairly small, so it is nice to know that people have my back.
  • I love diversity. I have discovered that I love working with diverse communities. It has been so fascinating to get to know so many new cultures and people. This is one of my biggest take-aways from my summer.
  • There is never enough time in the day. There is never enough time to complete everything you wanted to complete, especially when a museum is understaffed.
  • Work relationships take time to develop. It takes time to understand how your boss manages and operates. Likewise, I’m sure it took some time for them to get used to managing me. Once we get on the same page, things go a lot smoother.
  • Communication is everything.
  • Numbers matter. Keeping records and tracking numbers, money included, is essential for the future. If you don’t have data from the past is it hard to know what to do in the future. It is also hard to know how much to spend. It only takes a few years of mismanaging money to really damage an institution for many years to come.
  • Fundraising strategies have changed in recent years. At a recent all staff meeting  BCM’s President discussed how these changes are impacting the field. It was interesting to hear this from such an experienced professional who has been in the field for many years.
  • Having guidelines and procedures is essential. Without this, some procedures are thought to be rather chaotic and unorganized. Employees often don’t know what their job description really entails. I like structure in the work place, but I also need to learn to be flexible if an institution lacks structure.
  • I’ll never stop learning.

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