Stepping Back to Step Forward
– by Erik Ingmundson
As I sat down to write this blog post, I glanced through my calendar. Last week included twelve different appointments. They included interviews with applicants for seasonal interpreter positions, program planning sessions for upcoming exhibits, and discussions about developing a new vision for interpretive programming at our entire site, among other things. This week is bringing more of the same. If you’re thinking about applying to SHA, I suspect you can empathize. In all likelihood, your calendar is even busier than mine. As museum professionals, we are conditioned to juggle multiple projects constantly. Our work is often very detail-oriented, and by spending so much time “in the weeds,” it’s easy to lose track of our broader goals and needs. For me, that is why the SHA experience was so important. It afforded me an opportunity to pause, step back, and re-assess my goals.
For me, one of the greatest benefits of attending SHA was the opportunity to broaden my understanding of the museum field beyond my own area of specialization. I have spent nearly ten years in museum and historic site interpretation. I’m fairly conversant in learning theory and visitor studies (though there is always more to learn). For three weeks, I learned about fundraising, strategic planning, institutional change, and nonprofit finance, among many other things. As I think about moving into senior leadership positions in the future, I feel that I am in a much stronger position to ask the right questions.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of SHA is the great network of friends and colleagues that I now have available to me. We regularly exchange messages and ideas. Their perspectives and insights shape my thinking every day. My SHA notebook occupies a prominent place on my desk, and it always will. Make time for this experience. You’ll be glad that you did.
Erik Ingmundson, Supervisor of Interpretation
Mystic Seaport Museum
Class of 2015