Meet Leo: Curatorial Member at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park
Written by: Leo Walker
Can you introduce yourself to the readers?
Hi! I’m Leo, I use they/them pronouns, and I’m from Massachusetts. I study Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and my biggest passion is art and expressing myself through that.
How did you get started in the field of conservation?
I’m just at the beginning of my career, but my inspiration for applying to this CRDIP internship came from a visit to the Penn Museum in Philadelphia. I saw an incredible, ornate crystal ball with an amazing story of theft and return associated with it. That really inspired a sense of wonder towards museums in me, and led me to this internship.
What is your position at MABI? What does your day-to-day look like?
I’m the curatorial intern at MABI! Right now my day-to-day is housekeeping, followed by several varied projects on rotation. Some days I’ll be measuring furniture and taking inventory, and another I’ll be assessing the conditions of collection pieces and photographing them. It’s very cool!
What’s been a highlight (or highlights) of your ACE term so far?
My best experience so far has been handling the Billings-Kittredge herbarium samples. They’re incredibly delicate, preserved specimens from within 6 miles of Woodstock, VT and are from the early 1900s. To hold a piece of history so integral to the museum is incredible. The little quirks of each object that show its ownership over its time is also amazing to witness. Tiny paintings, Kittredge and Billings’s handwriting, and the specimens themselves are all so intricate and integral to the objects’ histories.
How does this position fit into your career goals?
I’m someone who’s really interested in curatorial work. Whether that’s handling objects, entering data, or taking inventory, all of it is fantastic to me. This position gives me a chance to learn about those tasks, gain experience in them, and apply them in the future. I think that’s very valuable!
Is there something you wish more people knew about MABI?
I wish people knew more of the behind-the-scenes locations! The fallout shelters on the grounds are really cool, as well as the bowling alley and the pool. The bungalow is also really interesting, as well as the attic of the mansion, which holds very interesting pieces of historical furniture.
What is your favorite NPS park?
To be honest, I don’t have much experience with NPS parks! I might be a little biased in saying this, but I love MABI so far. It’s a charming, idyllic forest property that not only provides a taste of true Vermont, but also allows one to learn about the history of a small town like Woodstock via the mansion and Visitor’s Center.
What does pride month mean to you?
Pride month to me is a marker of many things. It’s a marker of progress over the eras, it’s a marker of presence, it’s the message that we are not going away. We are here now, we are visible, and we will not stop. Someday, everyone will have to accept that there is nothing they can do to stop the forward momentum of progress, and pride marches are a very visible way of representing that. This is a month of raising our voices and letting them be heard. This is a month that says we will never go back to the way things once were, with LGBTQ+ people hiding who they are. Now is the time to be open and to be accepted by the community, waiting with open arms.