Museum Studies Blog

Posted on June 3rd, 2024 in Alumni, Student Work by jachigg | Tags:


Katie is standing in front of four carts full of inventoried education collection objects with two thumbs up.

The education collection was a big part of my Education Internship. I used to for programming and advocated for its care by discussing its use and the policies in place for its use.

What do you want to do when you grow up? I hated this question as a kid. I never knew what I wanted to do. I loved everything. How could I be expected to choose just one topic to be my job, for my whole life!?! And then in my sophomore year of college I realized museums are places where curiosity thrives and the range of topics is virtually endless.

I believe museums are a place to feel connected, understood, and valued. No matter your age or experiences in life, you can have a meaningful experience at a museum. To me museums are way to feed my curiosity and create a positive impact.

Let me share with you my first museum experience that made me want to pursue the path in life. I have always wanted to understand how people influence things around them and how people are influenced by those same things. It’s a part of the whole endlessly curious personality.

My first museum internship, before I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up, was at Durham Museum in Omaha Nebraska. I was the education intern and one of my main responsibilities was assisting our teachers in facilitating summer camp programming. Our traveling exhibits American Adventure took “visitors back to 1607 Jamestown for an immersive, role-play experience.” This program was based in fun and exploration with engaging questions to encourage our kids to thing more deeply about the experiences of people in the past.

My favorite questions were, what would you need to survive? What tools and knowledge would you have to have? The purpose of these questions was to emphasize how technology and infrastructure of the city impacts their life and how lack of those things impacted the lives of people in 1607. We reminded the kids there were no phones or other modern-day conveniences like grocery stores. To my surprise our students had many specific and creative answers.

They mentioned flint and steel for fire because raw food meat could make you sick. The discussed different types of housing based on the environment, where their tree, rocks or just dirt. In delight and surprise, I asked how they knew about these tools. They responded that they had learned it from Minecraft. Being a fan of the computer-based video game myself, this was a really pivotal moment for me about connection and interconnectedness. Knowing they were connecting Minecraft, history, and their own experiences brought me so much joy. I knew I wanted to work in museums from that point on.

I pursued my master’s degree in Museum Studies where I learned new skills and gained experiences in education and public programming, collections care, and development feeding my curiosity and creating meaningful connections with visitors. To see more about my museum studies work and museum experiences visit my webpage.

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Katie Plank (she/her) earned her Master’s degree in Museum Studies in May 2024 from Indiana University Indianapolis.