I interviewed at the Midwest Art Conservation Center (MACC) in Minneapolis on February 3, 2020 right as the coronavirus began its spread throughout the U.S., with no idea what the year would bring. At the time, it felt like an excellent fit for my third-year placement. MACC is a regional center that serves clients across the Midwest from large institutions to small historical societies and private collectors. Their Preventive Conservation Department provides educational programming, carries out preservation assessment surveys, and consults on emergency response activities and grant writing activities. The global pandemic and the widespread social movements following the murder of George Floyd in May of last year made for a city that looked much different when I arrived in August, but I am so grateful to be able to spend my third-year at MACC and in Minnesota as the city heals and grows.
My projects in the MACC preventive department have included preservation assessment survey work, community engagement, health and safety research, and technical writing, but one of my favorite projects thus far has been the opportunity to design, pitch, and teach a workshop on environmental data analysis through MACC's series of virtual workshops. "De-Mystifying Environmental Monitoring" was designed for collections professionals who were already collecting environmental data and wanted to learn more about interpreting and using that data to advocate for preservation. I worked with my supervisor, Director of Preventive Conservation, Nicole Grabow, to come up with content that was practically useful to the small and mid-sized institutions that make up most MACC's clients. While the center normally gives workshops in-person, the restrictions of Covid-19 has moved their programming online, which offers challenges and benefits. Participants in the two-day workshop ranged geographically from Miami to Alaska, which made for some excellent conversation about the environmental challenges faced by institutions across the country. The experience of designing and teaching a virtual workshop feels unique to the circumstances of the pandemic, but I think that the skills I developed will translate into any future teaching that I am able to do both virtual and in-person.