By: John Hart, Assistant Curator of Collections
One of my favorite times of year doesn’t involve good weather, a particular season, or even a holiday. For me it’s the return of the students of the Cooperstown Graduate Program. The best part of my job is being able to work with them for the school year, or like this past summer with frequent emails back and forth, and even a phone call or two, from students interning in Alaska.
I myself am a graduate of “The Program” as it’s more often referred to by alumni and staff at NYSHA and The Farmers’ Museum, so it’s nice to still be connected as closely as I am to the faculty, staff, and students. The first years started this past Monday and on Tuesday and I served as the photographer for the class picture. They seem like a fantastic group of students and even though it’ll be November before I probably learn their names, I, along with my colleagues, I am sure, cannot wait to start working on projects with them.
CGP students work hands-on with staff at Fenimore Art Museum, NYSHA, and The Farmers’ Museum on a variety of projects led by the faculty. For example, classes in the past have helped develop furnishing plans for the More House, educational exhibit labels in “America's Rome: Artists in the Eternal City, 1800-1900,” and first years are required to work with a museum outside of Cooperstown as part of their first year project, sort of a baptism by fire, but rewarding nonetheless.
After two years, and the completion of a thesis, students graduate with a Masters Degree in History Museum Studies. That doesn’t mean that graduates all work in historic houses or art museums, or even at living history sites. Some start out working for other non-profits outside of the museum field, gathering valuable experience for when they do return to a museum setting. Others start their own business repairing furniture (a skill that I wish I could develop more in my own repairs), or become consultants. The sky’s the limit, really. And believe me, students change their mind about possible tracks almost weekly as they progress through the classes.
Let the fun (and of course learning) begin!!