Name: Margaret Anne Tockarshewsky
Title: Executive director, New Haven Museum
Organization: This year the New Haven Museum celebrates its sesquicentennial. It was founded as the New Haven Colony Historical Society in 1862 by some of New Haven’s leading click here who feared the political and social upheaval of the Civil War might undermine the preservation of New HavenÂ’s rich history since the founding of the New Haven Colony in 1638. Today the New Haven Museum continues this tradition of preservation with a collection that includes folk, decorative and fine arts, an extensive photographic archive and a comprehensive manuscript collection.
Born: Flushing, N.ambien online.
Education: BS, communication arts, Cornell University (1986); MS, natural science/historic preservation, Columbia University (2006)
Professional accomplishments: Tockarshewsky spent a dozen years at the Queens (N.Y.) Botanical Garden. She began her career in the field as a museum publicist. Her career trajectory brought her to the New Haven Museum, where she began on February 1 of this year. “The reason I stayed [at the Botanical Garden] for so many years was that I so enjoyed what a diverse audience we had,” says Tockarshewsky. “There were so many opportunities for me to grow professionally there.” Eventually, she decided she was prepared to take on the responsibilities of a museum director, and upon learning about the New Haven job, “I thought this was a good fit,” she says. Tockarshewsky says she was especially impressed with the existing museum staff of six full-time as well as seasonal workers. Over the summer, she has moved to enhance the museum’s visibility at farmers markets and community festivals to get the museum’s name (which was changed from the New Haven Colony Historical Society) more widely recognized.
Most significant obstacle encountered and how you surmounted: When she arrived in New Haven last winter, “The organization was interested in my ability and interest in community organizations with outreach,” says Tockarshewsky, who saw that alliances with other groups in the community was key to expanding the museum’s sphere of influence. One example is the Wooster Square neighborhood, for which the museum has organized a walking tour to take place next spring. Another new (and logical) partner is New Haven Preservation Trust, with whom the museum is collaborating on the Wooster Square project.
In addition, “I would like to see us expand our outreach to schools,” Tockarshewsky says. “I would like to see us do more family programs.” On September 29 the New Haven Museum will take part in “Museum Day Live,” a national event sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution in which participating museums open their doors to anyone presenting a Museum Day ticket for free.
It’s all part and parcel of raising the profile of a museum that despite its rich reservoir of Elm City historical artifacts and memorabilia has languished in the shadow of larger and better known museums such as Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History. Last year, for example, Tockarshewsky says the museum attracted some 7,000 visitors.
Of course, the greatest obstacle to most non-profits in the recession’s wake, and not just the New Haven Museum, is “insufficient funding,” says Tockarshewsky. “You always feel you could do more if you had greater resources.” Hence the sense of urgency regarding outreach to more constituencies in the larger New Haven community. She adds that it’s important to resist the temptation to scale back on programming or marketing when times are tight. “You have to work harder to demonstrate value,” she says.
Advice for other professional people: In a word, listen.
“I’ve really made it my mission to meet a new person every day,” Tockarshewsky says. “And I think I’ve been pretty successful. But coming in I emphasized that I would have an open-door policy, and I’ve tried to maintain that. I get welcome inquiries and question and suggestions from people in other organizations about how we might serve the community better.”
Person who most influenced her life: “I was introduced to a career in museums while I was a student at Cornell University, when the public-relations director for the Herbert F. Johnson Museum invited me to be her intern,” Tockarshewsky recalls. “She remains an inspiring mentor and a close friend today. I am also tremendously grateful to my executive director at Queens Botanical Garden for affording me many opportunities for professional growth and development, and encouraging me to pursue my graduate degree.”
|< Prev||Next >|