What comes to your mind when you think of work at a museum? Do you picture someone giving tours to a group of people? Maybe a curator busy acquiring items for the next exhibit? Or perhaps you picture someone working with old artifacts in a dusty basement. All of these are jobs that need to be done at a museum; but what you may not have realized is that making a museum function properly requires a lot of teamwork.
The nice thing about working at a small museum like Banting House National Historic Site of Canada is that you get to participate in a lot of different activities. As you already know, I help Grant with a wide variety of tasks throughout the week. These could include giving tours, exhibit design, event planning, working with collections, and more. I have an office space at the museum to take care of a lot of this work. However, I often have help from other museum workers and volunteers. Emily works with me on social media promotion. Jessica uses her graphic design experience to help us with exhibit planning. Amber has been showing me how to handle, classify and store artifacts. I’m editing a blog post for Natasha. All of us work closely with Grant and with others as well.
As a history major, this is a somewhat new environment for me. Academic historians are usually the ones to be isolated in a library reading room doing research for 12 hours straight. So it’s refreshing to see that, while some tasks are more solitary than others, being a public historian generally means that you need to work as part of a team. The diverse experiences and abilities that we bring to the museum make it a better place to work and a better place to visit! When we work together we can ensure that the best possible job is done on every project that comes our way. Sometimes we spend hours brainstorming in meetings; other times, we just need to ask for a pair of gloves or for a USB stick of files. Either way, when you have a lot of items on your to-do list, teamwork is a lifesaver.
It strikes me that this applies not only to museum work, but also to the wider world of diabetes advocacy of which Banting House is a part. Great things can be accomplished when people choose to work together. Banting, Best, Macleod and Collip all contributed in different ways to the discovery of insulin; their teamwork has saved millions of lives. Advocates continue to promote diabetes awareness and research by taking steps together. What can you accomplish today by working alongside someone else?
This post was written by Stacey Devlin, graduate research assistant at Banting House NHSC. Stacey Devlin is an M.A. candidate in Public History at Western University.