Musings on Public Museology

What is a public museologist? 

Good Question...

I began this journey almost two decades ago as an accidental Puritan, having accompanied a friend to a job interview and ended up getting hired alongside them. I dressed in 17th century clothing and delivered 3rd person interpretations of colonial history in New England.

I have worked for years in public archaeology, and studied with brilliant students and professors out in the hot summer Houston sun, preserving history with the community in Freedmen's Town in the Fourth Ward. This is a shout out to my fellow house trolls - you know who you are!

I have studied and practiced public history under the tutelage of the talented professors at Texas State University, focusing on museums, historic preservation, and mobile technology. 

And for the past three years, I have been a museum director at a small community historical society museum in Texas, where the flat coastal plains of Houston begin to give way to the rolling hills and lush vegetation of central Texas.

Over the course of these years, when people asked me what I did, my answer would often start "Well..." and a long jumbled description would tumble out. I was a public archaeologist, and a public historian, and an educator, and an artist, and a museum professional...the sheer number of titles and descriptors can be unwieldy and cumbersome to convey. 

As I sat down this afternoon over a cup of coffee, and pondered what to title this website and blog, it came to me - public historians practice public history. Public archaeologists practice public archaeology. I am a museum professional that develops programs and exhibits with the public, in the same way that either of the previous professionals collaborate with the public: so I guess that would be public museology, and I am a public museologist, unless someone can convince me otherwise. 

Much to my surprise, a search of the phrase "public museology" turns up very little. 

Is public museology a thing? If it wasn't before, it is now...

Christine Hoffman (center) with the Honorable Piotr Całbecki, Marszałek (Governor) of Kujawsko-Pomorskiego, Toruń, Poland and his wife, Dagna Całbecki. They honored CHHS Museum with a visit in July, 2017, which was a culmination of three years of developing stronger connections between the historical society and the local Polish descendant communities. 

Christine Hoffman (center) with the Honorable Piotr Całbecki, Marszałek (Governor) of Kujawsko-Pomorskiego, Toruń, Poland and his wife, Dagna Całbecki. They honored CHHS Museum with a visit in July, 2017, which was a culmination of three years of developing stronger connections between the historical society and the local Polish descendant communities.