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WOTY: The Work of a Curator

As you may know, my Word of the Year is Curate. So I asked my friend Amy King, who has been a professional museum curator to write an article for me about what she does as an actual curator. And she did! YAY! Thanks, Amy

What Curating Means to a Museum Curator

My name is Amy King and I have been the curator at the Tulare County Museum for twelve years now and continue to find the work fascinating! One of my favorite exhibits to curate is the rotating series of cultural exhibits in the History of Tulare County Farm Labor & Agriculture Museum gallery.

Tulare County Farm Labor and Agriculture Museum As the History Consultant for Tulare County Office of Education, I had the honor of being on the initial museum committee through the Tulare County Historical Society. – Marsha

This gallery has housed thirteen different exhibits highlighting the different cultures that have had a major impact on agriculture in Tulare County. With each new exhibit, I have the honor of capturing local family histories that have shaped the story of Tulare County and turning those memories into an educational display for people to learn more about local history. There is so much history to know that you will never be finished learning and I love that! 

In finding families to share their history by way of oral histories, photographs, and items I find that many of the histories are very similar and there is a commonality that families can connect through in sharing these histories.

This was the son of one of my former fifth grade Sunday School twins to who I became very close. Marsha

Taking all the information and making it into an exhibit for our community is a very large task and it is always a varied process for each exhibit. Of course, there is the printing and mounting of photos, ordering of vinyl lettering, and organizing display cases for the items each time, but the order of those things and the detailed organization of the information to present a cohesive display is a challenge I am always up for.

The work of this curator is very diverse and that keeps the job interesting. I am thankful to have the creative license to create something special and unique for our community at the museum. While I will forever be interested in learning, I find that when I visit other museums, I tend to pay more attention to how things are displayed more than to what is displayed. Always looking for ideas on new ways to present material to visitors, I will notice a certain way something is lit or what kind of display case is used, or where the text is in relation to the item. I suppose that is an occupational hazard.

Marvin shared much personal history as our group visited the museum. Tulare County was the destination for many Dust Bowl migrants from Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Texas. Marsha

Having the job of a curator often spills over into my personal life and that is something that constantly provides changes for me to navigate as well. In the past eighteen months, I have had three major changes in my life that are all wonderful and challenging at times: I got married, had a baby, and turned forty years old. Navigating these new personal changes has introduced a new juggling act of home time versus work time. Prior to these three changes, work took priority, and I would often find myself working late and having several jobs at a time. Especially with my expanding family, that now takes priority, and work time must be balanced for me to feel I have adequate time to dedicate to my new important roles in life.

Although I have made many connections through my work at the museum, they feel like family, and all have made me feel supported during this transition. I feel honored to have the life I have created for myself and would not trade it for anything. Being thankful for my work and family is something that I know can be rare these days and I do not take that for granted. So when I have a hard day I can honestly say it is all worth it to be the curator of all that I have been given.


Like Amy, I love to visit museums as well and take note of how things are displayed. What I love about Amy’s work is that the museum is so clean and bright. It has large displays – a house, a car (from my pictures years ago), and a wagon with some beautiful display cabinets that are current.

As I reread Amy’s article, I bolded some of the similarities I see to blogging that I can glean from to enhance my work in curating my blog and my life.

  • interviewing families (bloggers)
  • attending to the look of the museum (blog) – using photos and lettering
  • sifting through information to educate about the display
  • having creative license
  • finding patterns and commonalities
  • balancing work and home
  • making many close connections through work

Thank you so much, Amy for sharing a bit about your job and your life. Congratulations on all the new changes in your life since I left! “The work of this curator is very diverse and that keeps the job interesting.” Being diverse and interesting is what I want to celebrate in my life and my blog, as an extension of my life.

Ongoing at Always Write

  • Story Chat – Anne Goodwin’s story, “The Power of Verticality” has made a deep impact on readers so far. There is much debate as to who is narrating the story and whether or not her narration is reliable. People who have had to be caregivers during their lives can really relate to this story.
  • Celebrating holidays starting Wednesday on WQW. There’s still time to link your ideas about fitness.
  • PPAC on Friday takes a catty turn. Watch out for big cats!
  • Monthly Updates WOTY: February, January Intro to WOTY

Now it’s your turn.

What have you learned about your Word of the Year WOTY, and how does it affect your life? Amy and I would both love to hear what you think about curating and how her story helps you with your blog. Thanks so much for joining us today.

17 replies »

      • Great question. I think I’m a little of both. I still have a love of art, and I know I would have enjoyed a career in that field. That said, I’m so passionate about writing, I could never say I don’t enjoy that vocation. I assume I could have done both, but I never would have been able to write in the same volume I currently do.

        Long story short, I think I’d have enjoyed either field, but I won’t look back with regret now.

        Liked by 1 person

        • And of course, you don’t need to. In my opinion blogging reaaches most of the same modalities, reading, writing, photography, art, and any hobby you might also have – like history. You have the potential to reach so many more people in the short run, though blog posts change regularly. Books are much more permanent and also tend to reach more people – depending on the location and fame of the museum. Congratulations on your writing career.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. what a great collection and fascinating Marsha and Amy. Love the fire engine red. I feel the struggle and juggle of family. So awesome you can make this work and it will get easier.
    💖💖

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t that a great color for the museum – kind of like a tractor? I think the struggle between real life and blogging (or working any job) is always going to be hard, the deeper you go in it. You are eye-deep into blogging, but you also work, have a family, and have started this new hobby of poetry writing. Some of it you can combine and share with family. But in my case, Vince is not too interested in my blogging life, but he does hear about it from time to time. It has changed some of our vacation activities in that we both take more pictures, and sometimes I use his pictures, or his phone, when mine goes dead. So, we all integrate our lives, and it sounds like Amy is doing the same. I have no doubt that her child will grow up knowing a lot about museums and history.

      Like

    • We ran out of time! There are always so many things we could do. I got to dig deep, when I came to you because we stayed in one place and didn’t have to rush around to see everything in one day. I know it seemed boring to you at times, but it was a fabulous way to really learn about the country and the local area, too. And I had some time to process it using my blog during the time we were there. It comes back to me as clear as day when I look at my pictures, even conversations we had.

      Like

    • Hi Sue, You and I sort of do that with our interviews online. You do a fabulous job with creating podcasts – something that overwhelms me a bit.

      Like

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Marsha

Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. My all-consuming hobby is blogging and it has changed my life. My friends live all over the world. In November 2020, we sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ. We live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with our dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince's sister came with us and lives close by. Every day is a new adventure.

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