Meet Sara Phalen
Full Name: Sara Phalen
Where do you work: West Chicago City Museum, Warrenville Historical Museum & Art Gallery
What is your job title: Director/curator
What does your average day in the museum look like: Everything and anything, part-time director for each of the small local history museums.
What (project, initiative, etc.) are you currently working on right now for your museum: Exhibit revamps for 2018.
What is your educational background: JD, Masters of nonprofit management, museum studies certificate
What led you to the museum field: Grew up the only minority in a small town and was able to explore other cultures through museums and fell in love
What are your earliest memories in a museum: Family trips to MSI and Field Museum and be amazed at the size and amount of things in one place; also learning about local landmarks and history behind them in local museums
Any obstacles you've had to overcome to get to where you are now in the field: Not really, except I've learned to keep my mouth closed when I need to and slowly work change in, to take very short maternity leaves (2weeks and 4 days), and if my husband ever lost his good job I'd have to maybe leave the field
How did you overcome these obstacles: I've learned to be very aware of my surroundings and feel people and their prejudices out very quickly
What has been your proudest moment with regard to where you are in your career and the work you do in the field: The first exhibit I did where I put the stories if Mexican immigrants up in the museum, a Mexican American man came in and was taken aback and said he never thought he'd see the day that his people and people who looked like him would be on the walls of the City Museum
What advice would you give a student thinking about entering the field: Don't do it:( the field right now has so many things to work through, it's so hard to get a job, let alone a good paying job and if the field doesn't wake up soon it may be obsolete
What's next for you in your career: Help redevelop our historic downtown through culture, history and the arts in an authentic way that stays true to the community and does not gentrify
What is your favorite museum to go to other than your own: National Museum of Mexican Art