Meet the Museum: HMCC Welcomes New Curator!

March 4, 2016 4:55 pm Published by

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.

We have big news to announce at the Heritage Museum! Last week, we were thrilled to welcome our new curator, Tracy Gierada, to the staff of HMCC!  After less than a week on the job, Tracy jumped right in and helped make our 2nd Annual Night at the Museum a huge success.

This week, Tracy sat down with Upton Fellow Claire to talk about the kinds of work a curator does and what excites her the most about joining the staff of the Heritage Museum.

What exactly does it mean to be a curator? 

I think of the curator as the chief preserver and interpreter of the museum’s collection.  They have to balance the competing goals of saving and preserving with sharing and making relevant all of this history.


New HMCC Curator Tracy Gierada, in white, interacts with visitors at the 2nd Annual Night at the Museum. Tracy is dressed as one of four players from Berrien County who played for the South Bend Blue Sox.

The day to day work of a curator is varied and sometimes unpredictable.  We have a great research library where people can stop in to look for information.  You have to be flexible because often our researchers are on their own deadlines.  But I’m always looking long-term to make daily progress on our goals and projects.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I was born in Dearborn, Michigan and grew up in Saline.  I am a proud University of Michigan graduate – I studied history there.  I just knew from my activities at Michigan that I wanted to do something professionally in history, so I chose the public humanities graduate program at Brown University and got to live in Rhode Island for two years.  After my schooling came to an end, I really wanted to come back to Michigan to start my career.  I was lucky enough to start working in Coloma in 2009 and I have really loved getting to know this area.  One of my favorite things to do is outdoor activities; I love walking on the beach and kayaking.

New curator Tracy Gierada poses in the shipbuilding exhibit at the Heritage Museum.

How did you get interested in museum work?

Through childhood visits to The Henry Ford museum and Greenfield Village! My favorite thing at Greenfield Village was the Firestone Farm, and now I still love The Henry Ford’s big transportation exhibits.  I just love the way it feels to stand next to those enormous locomotives and cars!

I’m interested in working in museums too.  What advice do you have for someone like me?

Just remember that there are lots of different types of museums and different jobs in each museum!  Even if you’re interested in working in a specific type of museum, remember that all museums have diverse sets of needs.  I recommend considering education or experience in non-profit administration or management.  You can even get a degree in marketing and work in a museum!  You can study a lot of different things and then look for different ways to apply your talents in all of those needed areas.

What about working at the Heritage Museum excites you the most?

I am most excited about continuing to develop the digital preservation and digital outreach efforts of the Heritage.  I would love for us to be known for our digital access and how much we can share with people remotely.

I’m also so excited for all of the walking tours we do! I think they’re such a good way to get to know your community and to bring the objects in the museum out to make connections.

Please stop in at the Heritage Museum soon and say hi to Tracy! 

If you have ideas or questions you’d like to see in a future blog post, please e-mail our Upton Fellow Claire Herhold at or call (269) 983-1191.  Don’t forget to like us on Facebook to get notifications about new blog posts!