Welcome to Meet the Museum, our blog series where we meet the staff of The Heritage Museum and Cultural Center and find out what it’s like to work in a museum.
Marcy Simpson joined the staff of the Heritage Museum in 2004 as an administrative assistant. Thirteen years later, this Dowagiac-native is now the museum’s Director of Operations. Earlier this summer, Marcy sat down with our former Frederick S. Upton Fellow, Claire Herhold, to talk about her work at the Heritage Museum.
Tell me a little bit about your job. What does it mean to be the Director of Operations?
Lots of different things! I take care of all the things it takes to keep the museum operating. I pay our bills, manage payroll, and work with our Board of Directors and Treasurer on our annual budget. I also take care of personnel management and hiring. Finally, I work with the museum’s membership and donors, and help people become part of our Heritage family!
What is your favorite part of your job?
I really love working with our donors, members, and volunteers. These are the people who are really invested – financially, emotionally, and with their time – in the museum. I’m equal parts grateful for their support and inspired by their involvement!
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Like most small non-profits, it can be challenging to make ends meet. For us, I think it’s a symptom of our incredible community, our rich history, and the creativity of our staff. There are so many people to serve with exhibits, and tours, and programs! It’s a good problem to have, though, because it means we’re a vibrant and exciting organization!
How did you get interested in working at a museum? Is it what you expected museum work would be like?
I was leaving a position as an administrative assistant at a school when a colleague recommended a job opening at the Heritage Museum. I didn’t know anything about the museum then – I thought it was just a wedding venue! I started in a part-time position, but I’ve since moved into a full-time position.
Growing up, I always liked going to museums. I thought they were interesting. But working at one has been way more fun than I thought it would be! It’s exciting to see “behind the scenes” at what it takes to put together exhibits, tours, and programs.
What do you think makes the Heritage Museum such a special place?
It’s our volunteers that really make the Heritage Museum special. They give so much of themselves in so many ways. Our volunteers serve on our Board, on various committees. They greet visitors at our front desk. They give tours and work in the archives. They even give tours at the lighthouse! That’s a really special thing: to see people give their time, energy, and talents like that.
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