By Nicole Nathan
A few of us museum collections people who deal with the objects, photos, artwork – basically the “stuff” of museums – had been thinking about getting together as a group with other Portland-area folks to meet, have some lunch, and talk to other peers. This idea percolated in the minds of a few of us, mostly Lori Erickson of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), Anne LeVant-Prahl of the Oregon Jewish Museum and Heather Bouchey of the Portland Art Museum for a while. I became involved earlier this year and we decided to go for it!
Our idea was to have an informal gathering every couple months at a museum in the metro area where all of us “stuff” people could get together, tackle some issues, get to know others in the area and tour the host museum’s storage area. Our inaugural meeting was held on March 29, 2012 at my home institution, Oregon Nikkei Endowment. Attendees came from places far and wide including the Portland Art Museum, The Hat Museum, the Portland Police Museum, the Oregon Military Museum, the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, the Oregon Maritime Museum, OMSI and the Oregon Jewish Museum.
We talked about a number of things: interns – how you find them, make sure they’re a good fit, and keep them; exhibit cases – who makes them in the area; upcoming programs; professional development opportunities; connecting people with those who can assist; and getting to know who are our peers. It was a great opportunity not only to learn, but to impart knowledge and help out fellow collections professionals.
I’m looking forward to the growth of this group, dubbed PDX Collections, and how we can all help each other out with issues, questions and problems. Because chances are whether our institutions are large or small, the information will be useful as a solution to a problem someone has this week or comes up again next year.
We’ve set up a Google group for communications, threads and hot topics. Find and join us at PDX Collections. I know I’m looking forward to our next gathering!
Nicole Nathan is the Chair of the Registrars Committee Western Region, Principal of Claret Associates, and Interim Executive Director & Director of Collections and Exhibits at the Oregon Nikkei Endowment.