Written by Patti Wood Finkle, Collections Manager at the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum & Art Gallery at the Pennsylvania State University, in State College, Pennsylvania, USA.
Patti Wood Finkle
What is your role on the NatSCA committee?
I am an ordinary committee member and have volunteered to lead the conference planning committee next year.
Job title and institution
Collections Manager at the Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum & Art Gallery at the Pennsylvania State University, in State College, Pennsylvania, USA.
I don’t have a twitter account, but I am a co-host on The M Files Podcast, a museum-centric podcast that my colleagues and I started during the pandemic to help museum professionals connect and learn more about other museums. Basically we get to meet new people and chat about how much we enjoy working in museums.
Tell us about your day job
In my current roll, I work with rocks, minerals, fossils, meteorites, man-made composites, industrial paintings and prints, as well as historic scientific instruments and equipment. We have a wide-ranging collection and there are always things to do, whether it is updating the current database with images and information, accessioning an incoming collection, or writing exhibit text (and I’ve done all three this week). A large part of my job is collections based, but with a staff of two, it is important to manage our time wisely and both of us take on tasks such as tours, guest lectureships, exhibit planning and development, supervising our student workers, and working with our parent institution. I also work with students and facilitate partnerships with faculty and student organizations whenever possible.
Natural science collections are very popular with museum visitors. Why do you think this is?
Because natural science is amazing! To see, in person, how large a whale is, how brilliantly a gem may sparkle, how beautiful a beetle can be is exhilarating. Screens and computers can only show you so much, but to see the things for yourself is authentic and tangible. It fuels our curiosity and our wonder. The number of times I have heard both children and adults walk into a natural science gallery and exclaim “WOW!”, sometimes under their breath and sometimes out loud, is affirmation of the power of these collections to continue to awe and educate visitors of all ages.Continue reading