Cate Bayles learns through teaching. After deciding that traditional classroom instruction wasn’t for her, she sought out museums as a route to informal learning. Her museum internship journey has taken her to a variety of institutions, big and small, all over the U.S. In May, she completed a MA in Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program with thesis work focused on racial diversity in the museum professional field. She has a passion for educational programming and a belief that through community outreach, creative partnerships, and innovative evaluation, museums and other informal learning institutions can become conversation generators and agents for social change.
Having just graduated with my masters, I am actively seeking opportunities in the museum and nonprofit world. After over six years of amazing internship and volunteer gigs, I am ready to be working! For now, I have the pleasure of residing in Chicago and have been taking advantage of the wonderful museums and cultural institutions in and around the city.
What’s your educational background?
I studied Anthropology and Education at Illinois Wesleyan University. After interning and volunteering at a plethora of small children’s and history museums, I packed up my car and drove cross-country to upstate New York where I completed my masters in Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program.
What was your ‘sticky’ moment?
While interning at the McLean County Museum of History, a camper asked me why I wanted to be a teacher in a museum. Without really thinking, I simply stated that to me, museums are like giant classrooms – they represent the world around us – and I wanted to spend everyday helping kids like him see the world. Here I was, seeking experiences to help me find clarification for my life’s path and a 9 year old helped me find the answer. Remarkable.
What is the name of your blog? How long have you been blogging?
My blog ‘s title is Fresh in the Field and it is an ode to my status as an emerging museum professional (EMP). I began blogging over a year ago during an internship in education and exhibition development at the Field Museum of Natural History. Get it? Fresh In the Field.
What do you blog about? Why?
My posts are inspired by my life in and around museums and cultural institutions. I write about the experiences of being an emerging museum professional and try to include tips for EMPs in each of my entries. Whether that means posting pictures of the latest internship fashions or tough topics that challenge and motivate me, I blog to spark discussion, create community, and share stories.
What’s your most read blog post? Tell us about it.
Does dedicating your life to the non-profit world mean you have to go broke? This post, which includes a link to AAM’s 2012 Museum Salary Study, has been my most popular entry to date. Hint: the answer is no!
What’s the last thing you bought at a museum gift shop?
I am obsessed with post cards. It all started during a semester studying in London. I wanted a way to remember every museum, gallery, and historic site that I visited, but souvenirs were expensive and baggage space was limited. Even now, post cards are my go to purchase. Mail them off! Hang them up! They also make fabulous bookmarks in a pinch.
Do you tweet? Why or why not?
Yes! I can be found tweeting away at @FreshInTheField. I find twitter to be a great way to stay up to date on the latest museum trends, field wide news, and hilarious cat videos.
Night at the Museum: love it or hate it?
I have a love/hate relationship with the film. When I tell folks I work in a museum, I get one of two questions: “Are you a curator?!” or “Have you seen Night at the Museum?!” That being said, while working at the Fenimore Art Museum we planned an after-hours program entitled Night at Our Museum that was a huge success. #dowhatworks
Share one piece of advice for those interested in working in the museum field:
Past museum bloggers have stressed the importance of volunteering and interning, but I am going to take that one step further! Once you are in those learning positions, make sure you get the most out of your experience by asking questions, asserting your needs, and creating the contacts that will lead to another opportunity. Being passionate about museums is the first goal. Being well connected is the second.
Thanks for participating in Meet a Museum Blogger, Cate!
In case you missed it, Cate blogs at Fresh in the Field. Are you an EMP? What has your experience been? What challenges are you facing?
Also, thanks for sharing this gem, Cate: “Museums are like giant classrooms – they represent the world around us…” I really like this. No, I love this (and I’m sure my Museum Ed friends will, too).
Do you have any additional questions for Cate regarding her profile above? Feel free to start a conversation in the comments below or reach out to her directly on Twitter. Her Twitter handle is @FreshInTheField. Please use the #MuseumBlogger hashtag. TY!
Are you interested in being profiled or know someone who would be? Send an email to MuseumMinute@gmail.com.