Museums & Public Engagement

My teaching and research have always been strongly connected with my work as a museum curator and public historian. Before becoming a university professor, I worked for nearly a decade at the Smithsonian Institution, and also at the National Park Service, the environmental nonprofit Rachel’s Network, and the Museum of the Rockies. You’ll find information about my current and past projects below.

See also my University of Delaware webpage for exhibitions and public humanities projects conducted with my students.

CROW RESERVATION, MT, 2004 to present

Crow Indian Virtual Archive and Museum (CIVAM) is a virtual repository of Crow Indian cultural items and images housed in public and private collections around the world. In collaboration with The Center Pole on the Crow Reservation in Montana, CIVAM’s mission is to re-acquaint Crow Indians with materials removed from their reservation community so that these items and images can contribute to the on-going cultural life of Crow people and to create a digital storehouse of Crow family heirlooms currently held in private homes to document Crow culture all the way to the present.

“Gardeners on the Crow Reservation in the 1930s”

This photography exhibition was held at three community centers on the Crow Reservation in 2015. The exhibition included US Extension Service photographs of Crow Indian gardeners, farmers, and home canners. Many family members had never seen these images of their relatives before. 

MUSEUM OF THE ROCKIES, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT, 2004-2006

While re-developing the history program at the museum, I organized Crossing Cultural Fences: The Intersecting Material Worlds of Indians and Non-Indians that sought to challenge people’s assumptions about Plains Indian cultures and Indian-white relations.

“Crossing Cultural Fences: The Intersecting Material World of American Indians and Euro-Americans”
Western Historical Quarterly 39 (Winter 2008)

Journal of American History exhibition review
by Mary Murphy

Learn more: Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History

SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION, Washington, DC, 1985-2002

Over the course of my career at the Smithsonian, I was an archives technician and then museum specialist at the Archives of American Art, where I was in charge of cataloging the works of art in the collections; a registrar at the Department of Anthropology in the National Museum of Natural History where I worked especially with the American Indian collections, and a researcher and writer for the American Food History Project at the National Museum of American History. A highlight was in 2001 when I was  a member of the Smithsonian team that identified and documented the content of Julia Child’s kitchen in her home in Cambridge, Massachusetts for re-installation in the National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. At the exhibition opening, I was able to thank Ms. Child for the special privilege of being able to wash hundreds of kitchen utensils.  


I went from being a hired temp to the communications director of this then-brand new organization devoted to promoting women leaders in the environmental field. 

I will always value all that I learned from the women at Rachel’s Network.


For the Historic American Building Service and the Historic American Engineering Record (HABS/HAER), I researched, wrote and produced historic landscape and structures reports. Projects include the Philadelphia Zoo, America’s oldest zoo; the National Park Seminary, an elite women’s college in suburban DC at the turn of the 19th-Century whose landscape features and architecture were as central to its pedagogical mission as its classroom lesson plans; and the Civil War-era Shiloh National Military Park, for which I also produced the drawings.

In addition, I have served as a history consultant for historic programs and interpretation at Joshua Tree National Park, John Muir National Site, and Scott’s Bluff National Monument. I was also Director and Supervisor of the Historic Research Study of Lake Mead National Recreation Area and the Las Vegas Water Authority. 

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