Marisa Szpytman

Concentrations/Minors: BA Near Eastern Studies, Museum Studies minor

 

Why did you decide to pursue the museum studies minor?
When the museum studies minor came out, I was really excited because I had known coming into college that I wanted to do museum work. I knew that I was going to go into a graduate program in museum work and that the minor was a good springboard for looking at graduate programs in museums.

What was your favorite class that you took for the minor requirements and why?
My favorite class was called Museum Research Techniques and it was taught by Lisa Young. That was the single best class that was offered. It was focused on natural history museums and we learned how natural history museums operate and what their history was in the United States and what their collaboration was with source communities. The final project for that class was taking the readings we had done and curating a mock exhibit that included a plan of action for working with source communities and incorporating their perspective. It was very informative and practical.

How was your internship experience?
My internship experience was wonderful. I worked for the collections manager in the anthropology museum at U of M. I learned so much about hands on collections management. We worked on preventative conservation and how to utilize space as well as possible. And I’ve used those skills in other museums I’ve worked in. The importance of archival techniques and updating the database. I worked there for four years, so the internship was a way for me to focus my work more on collections management and the skills I would need to pursue a career in collections management and registrarial work, which I’m also interested in doing.

How did the virtual exhibit project from Museums 301 help reveal the interdisciplinarity of museums to you?
I think the most important thing that project did was illustrate the importance of technology in conjunction with museums. It did show us that museums are turning to digital technology to improve their collections and reach out to a broader public to try and bring in new members and patrons. It showed that there needs to be a marriage of old techniques with new ones.

Which museums has the minor led you to be involved in?
I was already involved in museums when I started the minor. I started the minor in my junior year and I had already been working in the Natural History Museum and the Anthropology Museum for two years. I had already been working in the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology for two years and had already interned at the Henry Ford Museum. So I already knew that I wanted to work in museums and I continued working in all of those museums. What the minor did for me, was give me a good theoretical and historical background so I could approach what I was doing in the museum through a slightly different lens.

How do you feel your life at the university and beyond has been and will be affected by pursuing a museum studies minor?
I think it will be affected very much so. I’m going to graduate school this fall at U of M in the archives and record management program because I want to work in a museum in collections management or as a registrar. I think that the minor really gave me a solid background in theoretical aspects of museums as well as some of these more complicated intellectual issues.

Where do you see museums fitting into your future?
I am definitely on the track for a career in museums.