Curator, Chemung Valley History Museum
Elmira, New York
“Through museums we can offer the public an opportunity to learn history in a nontraditional setting and challenge them to think more broadly–even as we challenge ourselves.”
After receiving her B.A. in history from the University of Georgia, Amy Wilson wanted to pursue a career in public history. She decided to do her graduate work at Indiana University—Purdue University at Indianapolis, in part because of the experienced faculty and the paid internship program. The internships proved invaluable. Working in the office of the National Council on Public History provided a broad understanding of the field of public history, while her time in the State Historic Preservation Office gave her hands-on experience with the National Register process. An internship at the Indiana State Museum introduced her to cataloging collections. She also participated in an online project that focused on religion and urban culture in which she did research on African American churches.
In 1997 Wilson became curator at the Chemung Valley History Museum. Because the museum has only three full-time staff members, her job description includes a range of responsibilities. She is in charge of collections, both artifacts and manuscripts, and this involves work in preservation, acquisition, accessioning, and cataloging. Additionally, Wilson is the point person for exhibits—developing themes, scripts, and selecting items. She also serves as the staff liaison to committees of the museum’s board. Wilson is also a board member of the Upstate History Alliance, which administers grants for technical assistance and gives awards for meritorious achievements.