Museum Studies Blog

Posted on May 13th, 2024 in Alumni, Student Work by jachigg | Tags:


Syd, a person with brown hair, glasses, and a black KN94 mask, is standing on the left side of the picture next to a case. They are wearing a black button up short sleeve shirt with pink flamingoes and green mini plants on it. They are also wearing a badge with a lanyard. On the right side of the picture is the case with about 16 Daruma dolls from Japan visible in the case in the image. Behind Syd and the case is a background image of more Daruma dolls from Japan .When I first applied to the Museum Studies Program at Indiana University Indianapolis, I was interested in knowing how to educate others about topics I was passionate about in a non-classroom setting. I always loved learning and museums and felt like museum education was the path to take to meld those together into a career I would enjoy. In the end, I gained so much more than just a way into informal education. Through the courses, networking, and experiences, I have learned more about myself and how I can contribute to the museum field.  

My portfolio highlights the contributions I’ve made in museum education, visitor evaluation, and community engagement mainly while in the Museum Studies program. With education, my first pillar, I focused mostly on creating educational materials for museums’ in-person or online programming. These materials were based on Indiana academic standards, which changed halfway through my master’s program, so I had to adapt what I was working on to still meet the revised standards! At the end of my program, I planned and created a panel program for one of our classes and assisted a community partner with their program planning.  

The next pillar, evaluation, was one that I discovered during my graduate program since I hadn’t known it was an option in the museum field. I love the social sciences, and was originally a psychology major as an undergraduate, so visitor studies has been a way to get back to studying why people do the things they do.visitor  My work for the Museum of Broken Relationships – Indianapolis in particular allowed me to explore how/if an exhibit can reach a variety of people.. I never thought I would be interested in a career that dealt with analysis and numbers, but I really love evaluation. The projects highlighted on my portfolio showcase my passion for evaluation and my contributions to collaborative research projects both with faculty and through my internship at The Children’s Museum.  

The last pillar, community engagement, is the most recent, but it has become central to my values as an emerging museum professional. I have always appreciated the museums and other non-profits I’ve worked or volunteered at because they all engage with their community in impactful ways. I want to continue that relevance in my work, whether it is in education, evaluation, or another aspect of the museum field. The work my classes did with the Ziibiwing Cultural Center and the Global Village Welcome Center were not only significant to those locations, but we also learned why they were there for their communities. I want to uphold that mission of community service. My goal is that whether through programming or evaluation, the museum or non-profit I work for is benefitting its community.  

My portfolio is an showcases the most impactful experiences along my path to a museum career. It highlights projects and experiences, and it documents the skills and knowledge I have developed. I will continue building those pillars as I continue working in museums and non-profits so I can make an impact on the field. I invite you to explore my portfolio linked again here, and if you have any questions or inquiries to chat, feel free to reach out! 

Full Portfolio Link:  


Syd Overtoom (he/they) is a May 2024 graduate of the Museum Studies Program at Indiana University Indianapolis.