Meet our Collections Manager, Erin Kirchner!

1. What is your background?

I have a B.A. in Anthropology and certificates in Archaeology and American Indian Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In undergrad I had the opportunity to volunteer as a curatorial assistant in the University’s Anthropology Repository and I became extremely interested in pursuing a career in museums. After graduation, I earned an M.A. in Museum Studies from Arizona State University and focused my research on culturally and socially responsible museum work, particularly in collections management.

2. What brought you to the Pioneer Air Museum?

In the last semester of my graduate degree, I received a flyer from Alaska State Museums advertising a museum collections internship with a small museum. I love small museums because of the different topics and tasks I am able to learn about and take on as a part of my position. ‘Wearing many hats’ is a phrase museum folks use often, and while things can get hectic sometimes, I enjoy my ‘hats’ and the variety they bring to my position. More than the position, Alaska has always been a destination on my travel list. I applied immediately and have been fortunate to extend my position through the winter off-season.

3. What projects are you working on?

My primary project is working to catalog the museum’s collection. This includes cleaning, labeling, measuring, photographing, researching, completing condition reports, and describing each object in detail. All of this information is used to create an object record, complete with donor information, and then is entered into our museum collections database. The Museum’s collections database helps our staff to know what objects are in our collection and where to find them. Outside of the collections, I am also starting to brainstorm for future exhibits and am also working to build our volunteer community.

4. What advice would you give someone looking to work in museums?

If you want to work in a museum, get your foot in the door any way that you are able! Whether that means interning, volunteering, or ask to meet with a professional at your favorite museum, what’s important is that you start to make connections. If you are already able to volunteer or intern with a museum, I would suggest pursuing an opportunity in another area as well. Museum positions are diverse and cover activities well beyond collections handling and exhibit design. Museum work also includes educational programming, visitor services and studies, administration and non-profit management, grant writing, donor relations, and even website and social media management!

If you are someone that is interested in getting involved with your local museum, please feel free to reach out to me at !

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