Memories of the Opening of the Library and Research Center

9, December 2011
The Library and Research Center, which houses the Missouri History Museum's collections.

December 2011 marks the twentieth anniversary of the opening of the Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center (LRC). Prior to that time, all of the Museum’s artifacts were housed in the Jefferson Memorial Building. Opening the LRC offered the Museum a chance to expand its storage capacity, to better monitor temperature and humidity levels in storage areas, and to offer state-of-the-art security.

I had the opportunity to prepare objects for the move from the Museum to the LRC, which had formerly served as a Hebrew temple. I vividly remember working as a packer at the Jefferson Memorial Building and being so excited to have the chance to handle a wide array of artifacts.

I had finished my second fashion merchandising internship at the Missouri History Museum in the spring of 1991. I had recently graduated and was preparing to enter graduate school at Fontbonne College (now University) in the fall. I remember thinking to myself, “Hmmm, do I want to just have fun during the summer, or do I want to see if I can make some money for school?”

My former MHM internship supervisor, curator Sharon Fivel, called and informed me about three packer positions open for the summer. I was interested because I was curious about the objects I would get to see and prepare for the move. Bright eyed and my mind filled with dreams, I never let go of them.

I interviewed for the position the following week, feeling confident but a little nervous because the Museum was only hiring three candidates. After about a week the collections manager let me know that they had selected me for one of the positions. I was happy and eager to start my new job.

LRC storeroomShelving at one of the LRC's storerooms.

Along with the Missouri History Museum Collections staff and the other packers, I inventoried, photographed, and packed everything from wedding gowns to arrowheads. MHM has some really beautiful and unique clothing in its collection. The formal gowns were beautiful and some were quite fragile, so each piece had to be handled with care. As a bonus, I gained valuable information on how to properly pack vintage clothing and textile items.

As the summer ended, my temporary position at MHM was finished and I headed off to graduate school. By December, the staff completed the move to the Library and Research Center and the facility opened to the public.

A few years after finishing grad school, I began working full time at the History Museum. This November marked my fifteen-year anniversary. I started in the Exhibitions division and am now in Museum Services. I do not work directly with the artifacts at the MHM, but on the administrative side. However, my internships and the packing position greatly influenced me to want to work at an exciting place called the Missouri History Museum.

—Tamaki  Anna Harvey Stratman, Museum Services Coordinator