NAME: Sarah Halter
TITLE: Director of Public Programs FOR: Indiana Medical History Museum
ORIGINALLY FROM? Indianapolis
YOUR JOB DUTIES INCLUDE? A bit of everything really…programs, exhibits, human resources, collections management, research, tours…dusting and changing light bulbs.
YOU WORK HOW MANY HOURS WEEKLY? I work 20+ hours a week in the museum, and I manage to get work done at home, the library, and occasionally in my car, as well. I also work full time at a warehouse.
WHAT YOU LOVE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO? So many things come to mind! We have a great group of very intense, fun-loving, and loyal volunteers, who I always look forward to spending time with when I come to work. I also love that I wear many hats here. I thrive on change and get bored easily. It’s nice that every day is new and different. I love the nature of the collection. I have a thing for the history of not just medicine, but science in general, and this is a great place to indulge that passion. And I am completely in love with the building itself. It’s beautiful, sad, intriguing, and a little bit creepy all at the same time. It’s meaning and historical significance are also very compelling.
WORST PART OF WHAT YOU DO? Hmmm…that’s harder to answer. I certainly get stressed out from time to time, and I think most people in this field would agree that limited resources, human and financial, can be a challenge.
HOW YOU DEFINE PERSONAL SUCCESS? Being good at what you do is important, but I don’t think it’s really personal success unless you love doing it. I guess that might be a bit over-sentimental and unrealistic, and maybe I’m more lucky than I realize.
IF YOU WERE GRANTED ONE WISH RELATING TO YOUR JOB/CAREER/ORGANIZATION, WHAT WOULD IT BE? We hope someday to have a second building for more traditional exhibits, office space, and more adequate storage. We have so many incredible things in the collection, and I’d love for people to see and appreciate more of them. As much as I love the Old Pathology Building, there are definitely some drawbacks to working in an historic structure.
WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN HISTORY? I’m not sure where it came from. Whatever sparked my interest must have happened pretty early. The concept of history itself, that there even is a past that I didn’t experience and have no memory of, confused and intrigued me when I was younger.
ANY INTERESTING FAMILY CONNECTIONS TO INDIANAPOLIS PAST? No. We’re the first generation to grow up here. My dad is from Columbus, Indiana, and my mom was from Placentia, Newfoundland.
ULTIMATE BEVERAGE? Amaretto sour. No wait, grape koolaid. Hot chocolate with buttershots? I am very schizophrenic when it comes to favorite foods and drinks. The truth is, I’ll eat almost anything you put in front of me.
COLLECT ANYTHING? Oh geez, yes. I come from a family of collectors and grew up in a house where a separate structure was built and the living room furniture was removed to make room for more action figures, their vehicles, clothing and equipment. We didn’t have a couch after I was five years old, and my parents didn’t purchase a new one until I was well out of college. It was incredible—in a good way! I loved it and am still fond of organized clutter. I can’t sit still in an empty room. I collect action figures and other toys, glassware, old books, character glasses…To protect my husband’s sanity, I try to keep it confined to my office and the two-story shed I’ve got packed full behind our house. But I expect someday my family will stage some kind of televised intervention, where I cry and get angry while the host of the show explains that I’m sick and all of my beloved junk must go.
FAVORITE QUOTE? Most of my favorite quotes are from The Simpsons. “…so anyways, the doctor said I wouldn’t have so many nosebleeds if I kept my finger out of there” and “I can’t promise to try, but I’ll try to try” are classics. I don’t know what this says about me. You were probably hoping for something more profound and historic in nature. Another thing I say a lot is from Voltaire. “If I want to commit a folly, nothing will prevent me!” The more melodramatically you say it, the better, I think.
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