Laurel History Boys Lecture at Montpelier Museum

Free Lecture by the Laurel History Boys at the Montpelier Museum in Laurel, MD

The Montpelier  Museum announces a talk by the Laurel History Boys on Saturday, October 15 at 3pm.  The LHBs will share stories, photos and memorabilia from the Montpelier area’s retail and housing history, going back to the 1950s.  Don’t miss your chance to reminisce about the old days (or learn about them if you weren’t around)!  Spread the word!  Come with friends!  Add to the conversation, and share your own tales of this area’s history. 

See attached flier for more information. 


Contract Museum Technician Opening at DEA Museum

Museum Technician

The DEA Museum has a contract Museum Technician (Collections Management) position opening, this is an entry level contract position.

The application deadline is Friday, September 23rd, 2016

This is an entry level position and will report to the Collections Manager. Applicants need a BA in related field (History, Social Studies, Science); some museum experience at the entry level is encouraged. Applicant must pass background check and will need to be a registered vendor in SAMS. Work schedule not to exceed 32 hours/week.

Please see attachment below:

 SOW Museum Technician

Maryland Historical Society – Internship

Morris A. Soper Papers – Archival Processing Internship Fall 2016

Internship Description:

The Maryland Historical Society is seeking an intern to assist in the folder-level processing of the papers of Judge Morris A. Soper (1873-1963). Spanning more than a half century at the state and federal level, Soper’s judicial service coincided with an era that saw great changes in American society. Soper wrote many landmark interstate commerce decisions and most notably was involved with several civil rights cases that preceded the landmark Brown vs the Board of Education in 1954.

This 300 box collection of correspondence, case files, and personal material offers a unique look into the work of Maryland’s “premier twentieth-century jurist.” To read more about the collection please follow this link. MdHS invites students pursuing careers in archives or history to apply for this internship and help us make this valuable collection available for research.

A stipend of $1500.00 will be awarded based on the completion of 120 hours.

Please see the below flyer for the Fall 2016 Internship with the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. 

Morris Soper Papers – Archival Processing Internship_ Fall 2016

Curating the Curator: Perspectives from Mary Alexander

For our first post in the series “Curating the Curator: Perspectives from MSMC Committee,” I introduce Mary Alexander.

Mary joined the MSMC committee last year and is currently instructing the Introduction to Museum Scholarship and Material Culture course. She has worked in and for Washington area history museums for the past four decades. She has been a museum educator, assistant director, leader of the Common Agenda for History Museums project for the American Association for State and Local History, and most recently administrator of the Museum Assistance Program of the Maryland Historical Trust.

I asked Mary, “What tools should every museum scholar take time to develop?” and she responded with the following insight:

A scene from “The Real Museum Directors of Kansas”

“The slide projector in the main exhibit hall kept needing adjustment so I had to open the back of the exhibit case and slip in to jimmy with jammed slides, replace bulbs and other mechanical fixes.  Because this happened so often I got to eavesdrop on visitors chatting in the gallery.  It was amazing what I learned simply by being a hidden observer.  All our highfalutin’ ideas about what visitors would notice from our impressive collections and our brilliant explanatory texts went right out the window.”

This scenario from an old friend of mine who ran a small museum in Kansas illustrates an important reality for museum professionals (curators, historians, researchers, registrars, educators)—watch out for the museum “bubble.” Visitors will surprise you with their perspectives, interests and ability to simply overlook what you consider so important.  In our Museum Scholarship and Material Culture Introductory class discussions we remind ourselves that we are not “regular” visitors and therefore we must always question our perspectives as potentially biased.

Be aware of your assumptions about visitors. Visit museums and take time to observe what others are doing and saying while they wander the galleries.  Note where visitors cluster and seem engaged; why are they stopping there?  Is it an object, a label, a bench to sit or an interactive?

Interpretation is complex and difficult to codify, but writing clearly is a central building block for both scholarship and its interpretive expressions. It’s easy to warn against jargon, but more important to focus on clear, concise descriptions that are readily understood. Exhibit design reports will quantify “appropriate” label length, but that’s not the solution, it is clarity. Working with others will improve your communication regardless of its form–labels, artifact layout, design decisions and programming–as it will inevitably challenge your assumptions and help you work towards clarity.

Your important tools are:

  1. Knowing your audience,
  2. Questioning your assumptions,
  3. Writing, re-writing, and writing again, and
  4. Working with others to gain clarity and provide understanding.

~Mary Alexander

This Thursday: Exhibit Opening at College Park Aviation Museum

You are Invited to the Exhibit Opening


Over Here & Over There: College Park and Prince George’s County in World War I


at the College Park Aviation Museum

Thursday, March 24
6 – 8 p.m.  – FREE
Drop in to be one of the first to see the exhibit and enjoy light refreshments.

Explore the development of aircraft, discover how the first military pilots influenced aviation during and after WWI and learn about the role of Prince George’s County and its residents during the war.

Intro Course Announcement

Attention all graduate students interested in the Museum Scholarship and Material Culture Certificate!

The first course in the Certificate program – “Introduction to Museum Scholarship and Material Culture” – is opening for registration next week. The class is capped at 15 students in order to accommodate for exclusive trips to large museums in the Washington, D.C. area and a personal learning experience. MSMCfieldtripCollage

The course is open to all graduate students in any department which allows for interdisciplinary perspectives on museums and the stories they display.

This is a unique opportunity to network with area curators and enhance your career prospective with museum scholarship. This course will be taught by Mary Alexander, a professional with over 40 years of experience working in and with museums.

If you missed the information session back in September, take a look at our previous posts highlighting Alumni experiences and Introduction to Museum Scholarship field trips to Smithsonian museums.

And, if you still have questions, feel free to contact Dr. Judith Freidenberg at

Don’t Close the Illinois State Museum!

We got news this week of a museum which could close down and we want to share the petition to save this historic institution:

The new governor of Illinois is threatening to close the Illinois State Museum. The Museum is 138 years old and is one of the great repositories for Midwestern archaeological and ethnographic collections.  The Museum was instrumental in working with the University of Maryland and the University of Illinois in the research program at New Philadelphia.  If you are inclined, consider signing this MoveOn petition to the Governor to save the museum and its related facilities from being closed.

Thanks for considering this the MoveOn petition: