Welcome, Rita!

The Pioneer Air Museum is thrilled to welcome Rita Butteri as part of our team.  Rita recently accepted the position of Collections Manager, and brings a love of history and incredible organizational skills with her to the job. Rita has been doing training with the museum’s former collections manager and current Executive Director of Museums Alaska, Della Hall.  Museum board member, Leanna Williams, recently sat down with Rita for a Q & A.

Image courtesy of Rita Butteri

Tell me about yourself.
I came to Alaska in 1990 working as a dog handler in Lake Minchumina. I spent a short time in Tok, then Ester where I raised my family. Now I live in Fairbanks. Over the years I got to know the community very well.  I have a culinary arts degree and hotel & restaurant management degree – which have little in common with a museum science degree but both taught me good organizational skills. I am interested in history, believe in preserving historic objects in any way I can.
What re your interests and hobbies outside of work?
My hobbies are handicrafts – I’m a recycler, I like gardening, I practice Taoist Tai Chi regularly.  I try not to purchase new things.  I have a passion for the outdoors (berry picking season my favorite) that I share with my family, friends and Lacey my dog. 
What brought you here to the museum?
A friend of mine, Sandy Jamieson, mentioned that the Air Museum was looking for help.  I contacted Pete Haggland who connected me with Della Hall.  She worked at the PAM before and talking to her was essential to determine that I can fill the shoes of a collections manager. I took the challenge and I feel honored that I was given this job.
The work as a CM is very versatile I can switch tasks throughout my workday which makes it all the more interesting.  The other aspect is that I love learning and being exposed to new things. 
You mentioned your background in organizing – how will those skills help?
It will definitely help me to be efficient in reorganizing the museum and creating new exhibits. We have an archive area whose content is in a desperate stage for processing, safely stored and cataloged and so preserved for the future. 
What are your goals here at the museum?
My goal is to make currently stored archival materials and unprocessed objects accessible to the public. Previous museum staff and interns have done an amazing job and I am continuing there work where they left off.
What are you most looking forward to here at the museum?
I am looking forward to improve the quality of the collections and exhibits by implementing environmental monitoring measures. I work at PAM 4 days a week and the work to be done is never ending.  I am looking forward to work with volunteers in a group or one on one.  Contact me by email, collectionsmanager@pioneerairmuseum.org if that is something you would like to do.  I continue to get training from Della Hall and I am attending Webinars to become a better collections manager.  I also set up an Amazon Wish List for collections management needs so that friends of the museum can help with collections management that way too.
Any favorite objects here in the museum?
I don’t think I have a favorite object but I’m flabbergasted by the heavy duty construction of these planes. I’m mesmerized by the history and what the early pioneers have accomplished constantly dealing with the Arctic’s harsh environment. Thinking about how they repaired planes in remote areas and got them back in the air. Ask me again in one year and I’m sure I have a favorite object by then. 
Welcome aboard, Rita! We’re glad to have you as part of our crew!

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