Public History Class at SAU gets visit from public history professional
Associate Director of Programming at the North Carolina Museum of History Jackson Marshall, center, shares insights with the Public History class at St. Andrews University on Feb. 27 in the University Archives.
Laurinburg, N.C. - Students in the Public History Class at St. Andrews University had a visit from the Associate Director of Programming at the North Carolina Museum of History Jackson Marshall on Wednesday.
“It is an opportunity to hear from someone who does what we talk about doing,” said David Herr, associate professor of history at St. Andrews. “This will help us as we prepare for our final project for the semester.”
Marshall has spent almost 26 years with the North Carolina Museum of History in various roles. He is currently the project manager for 15 current and upcoming projects as the exhibition schedule is set through 2015.
“My training in history was strictly academic,” he shared. “Public history, or applied history, was a totally different thing. It was developed to reconnect with the public. What we do has to be grounded in historical accuracy and curators need to be experts in their field.”
Marshall shared the three-phase process that the museum goes through in developing an exhibit from an idea to the post-exhibit evaluation.
“The biggest learning curve is letting go,” said Marshall. “Your curators and historians know more than can be put in a single exhibit. It takes a lot of negotiating and a bit of a reality check. You rally to the best story, the best artifacts, and let go of the rest.”
Considering the target audience is a key part of that process, according to Marshall.
“It is easy to be too busy with the inner circle of planners and forget the audience,” he said. “You may create a wonderful exhibit but no one will know or come out.”
While the museum staff measures success primarily in the team’s feelings and feedback after the exhibit, attendance is a factor that is becoming more and more significant.
“Our mission is to serve the state and we have to prove our viability or we are not doing our job,” Marshall said. “We have to have certain exhibits with some flash that help support those other projects that are important but might not draw the attendance. There is a lot of leaning on each other in the museum world.”
Marshall also outlined for the students the career mentality for a museum position.
“You need to get into this because of a passion,” he said. “It is something to do because you love the work. You have to enjoy teaching kids, doing educational programs and sharing history. The best way to get into the field is to do internships and volunteer work and taking classes like this one with a hands on element.”
The class has done one display in the DeTamble Library commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation (See photo below). They are currently working with the Train Museum in Hamlet for the final project of the semester.
About St. Andrews University
St. Andrews is a student and teaching-focused University which offers a broad range of undergraduate majors in a curriculum that is global in scope and practical in its application. St. Andrews has added a first graduate level program with a Masters in Business Administration. The quality of the St. Andrews educational experience has been recognized by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and GI Jobs among others. In addition to its academic programs, the University has an acclaimed university press, men’s and women’s athletic teams, a nationally competitive equestrian program, and an award-winning pipe band. St. Andrews is a branch of Webber International University, Florida. Further information may be obtained by visiting the University’s website www.sapc.edu, calling 800-763-0198, or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.