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A new direction...

Updated: Feb 13, 2023

This past week I had my annual review at work.

The meeting went well, but took a turn that was completely unexpected.

I was offered the opportunity to change my focus from education programs, specifically with schools, to getting the collections at the four museums processed, inventoried, and available to the public using the new online database system.


As J likes to say, "I did not see that coming."

The late River Phoenix played a young Indiana Jones.

Forty plus years ago, when I first saw "Raiders of the Lost Ark", it just reinforced my love of museums, and "old stuff".

And when "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" came out in 1989, I was on my way to my Bachelor's degree in History, and thinking about how I can get a gig in museums. In the beginning of the movie, Young Indy proclaims about the Cross of Coronado, after taking it from "bad guys"...

"It should be in a museum!"

He says it again later in the movie when he takes the item back many years later.

Even though I know not everything belongs in a museum, I always had the desire to take care of those artifacts that are.

At the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark...the Ark was "taken care of" by the US Government.

Not only that, they shouldn't be locked away in a basement or some storage unit never to be seen again. Sorry, another Raiders of the Lost Ark reference.

So, back to my annual review and my job.

My director gave me good reviews, stating that I was hard working, with excellent communication skills and work with the public.

She was impressed that I enrolled in opportunities to gain knowledge, since I had been out of the field for a decade.

But I was lacking production of product. And by product she meant a school program for a museum.

Now she did say that the fact we were short staffed during the season meant that I really had no time to work on a program. And she knew I was working on them.

Then came the curveball.

"What is your dream career in a museum?"


How do I answer that?

Did I say, "I'm living the dream"...working in not just one but four museums, and engaging with awesome stories and an incredible staff?

Or, do I tell the truth? My heart will always be with the stuff, and using it to educate. Not the other way around.

Which probably isn't great when your job is focusing on education programs and not stuff.

So, I told her the truth.

And as the amazing leader she is, she said she recognized it. And gave me a choice.

She explained yes, the museums need a curator of education to create programs, and make relationships with teachers to get them not only into the museums, but to create relationships with teachers. Those relationships will help get even more teachers interested in the museums and all we have to offer.

But the museums also need a collections manager. Someone who can finalize the collections policy. Someone who can inventory the collections at 2 of the museums, as well as deaccession the many items that don't have anything to do with our mission, and need to find a new home. Someone who after getting a handle on the collections can then also create exhibitions as well as use the database the way it was designed--to make it public so people can access the collections, and find out more.

To bring the collections to life, instead of in the basement and locked away.

Not only that, but the museums need a project manager, who can work with exhibit designers; to be the liaison between the site staff and consultants, since the site staff is busy with the day to day running of the museums.

Handling objects when inventorying a collection 20 years ago.

One of the benefits of my position is that it is new. There is lots of flexibility as to what the job is. In the design of the position, not knowing exactly how it would work out, the director had the foresight to build in the possibility that there could be a shift depending on the applicant.

We can make the position whatever we need it to be. And with my background and "Dream", maybe collections is how the position should pivot.

She was really selling me on it.

So, why am I hesitant? She is giving me an out. She's telling me, here is your opportunity to shine.

What is my problem?

I feel like I'm letting the team down.

They needed me to step up and create school programs. And I was trying. In fact, I submitted two just before I went into my meeting.

They were drafts, and I knew they needed testing and tweaking, but it was a product. What she was asking for.

Happy commuting to work!

I said that I feel if I change I'm quitting.

Before I could finish the word quit, she stopped me.

She told that we were too old to be unhappy.

We are close in age, and in the middle of our careers. It's not worth being unhappy at this point. It's time to do what you want, what you love, and enjoy the work.


After talking for an hour, I walked out of her office with a piece of paper that said I was doing a good job, but with a verbal opportunity to create a dream job...with her blessing.

Did I mention she's a great boss.

So, what do I do?

Switching to this new version of my job would come with some big changes in my work/home relationship.

I've had a fairly successful (albeit at times trying) transition to the job. Working from home most days meant I could greet the boys after school, make sure they were getting their work done, pick up or drop off if needed, and even get dinner started.

The new role would mean probably more time on site. That is where the collections are.

Talks with the family need to be had.

I just wrote on this blog about how J is struggling with home work and we had come to an agreement. We just finished week 1 of our trial.


I don't want to screw that up.

But my boss is right. I need to be happy. And I'm not letting down the team. I'm using my skills, experience and passion where it will be most beneficial.

It really is a no brainer. Just like taking this job in the first place a year ago.

Looks like it is time to shift gears, find the draft collections policy and go find my white gloves.

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