I bet you think this post is about that stupid “stamp rally” in a certain popular video game, but it’s not. As you know, I love going to museums. In fact, I used to review art and science exhibits on a regular basis) as well as zoos and aquariums (I really liked Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, but Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo is small and overrated).
What you don’t know is that I used to work for one. I wasn’t a docent. I worked as an intern in the Research Department for the Jay I Kislak Foundation which was in turn creating a new Latin America exhibit for UM’s Lowe Art Museum (part of the organization’s extensive collection was donated to the university permanently upon Mr. Kislak’s death in 2017).
I got a more hands-on approach to artifact handling a year later when I spent the summer working for the university’s discontinued field school in North Port (roughly halfway between Sarasota and Fort Meyers). I was only doing basic “processing” artifacts (washing, sorting and photographing) which, while extremely important in its own right, doesn’t provide any actual “marketable” skills needed to get a contract archaeology job.
I wasn’t upset by this because literally half of the dozen or so participants were on lab duty, but I found it extremely odd that they wouldn’t let me participate in their “Media Day” in the final week. I was a Communications student (Photography and Journalism) for cripes sake!
I now realize this was likely a form of ableism… but at the time it was just “normal” for employers, classmates in group projects (IF they told me about our group sessions at all) and volunteer coordinators to keep me as far “out of sight” as possible (I always thought was just a “fat” thing as this was the University of MIAMI after all).
I have applied to multiple zoos, museums and aquariums since graduation… but none have hired me. I have, however, done two “Archaeology Labs” here in Florida (one in Tampa and the second at UM), have not they led to any more field opportunities? No, and I’ve applied to multiple field schools across the country, but I have either gotten extremely sick at the last minute (2016/2014), hit by a car (2018)… or it was cancelled at the last moment due to either financial (2015/2017) or global pandemic issues (2020).
Maybe someday, I’ll get back to working in a museum again, but as writing this blog has taught me: The more time I spend interacting with people the more abuse I take from them. On the plus side, at least, Blathers doesn’t charge for admission…