Multiple challenges come with directing the Missouri State Museum and Jefferson Landing State Historic Site.
The museum has to evolve so exhibits don't become stale to visitors. At the same time, they have to be interesting to visitors of varying ages, races and genders, museum Director Tiffany Patterson said.
Every day is different, Patterson said.
She and colleagues had a laugh recently, when some new hires came in and asked what a typical day at the museum is like.
"We looked at each other and laughed," Patterson said. "No two days are alike."
Those of you who have been around for a while may remember a few years back when Patterson was the National Register coordinator in the Historic Preservation Office.
Back then, she kept busy helping people submit an average of 60-70 nominations for preservation to the office.
She loved the job, but wanted a new challenge. Patterson moved over to Missouri State Parks working as a grant writer.
It was a terrific opportunity to see how the division works and how its people interacted, she said.
Then, in 2014 the museum director job opened up.
"As interesting as grants are, history is my love. It's what I studied," Patterson said.
And in November 2014, she got the job.
"It's exciting. It's a great balance of creativity and working with the public," she said. "I also get real joy in meeting new people and learning their history."
This job posed new challenges.
Museum staff try to learn what engages people. They want to discover what makes people return.
"We're learning what people want to see," Patterson said.
They are also learning what they can do to help Missouri's teachers expand on classroom lessons.
Exhibits are planned years in advance, looking at events that are upcoming, she said. An example is the exhibit about Missouri's involvement in World War I, which lasted 1914-18 and ended 100 years ago this Nov. 11.
"There's a lot of research into what's in our collection and what we can display," Patterson said. "In our World War I exhibit, we've done a great job of integrating voices."
Museum operators strive to tell stories through their exhibits, using the voices of Missouri's communities.
The world war exhibit uses a number of voices, she said.
"We've included some of the more negative things that were going on at the time," she explained. "Suppression of speech. Hearing how immigrants were treated."
History isn't always pretty, she said.
"The Capitol is just such a rich tapestry of architecture, history — the (Thomas Hart) Benton mural," Patterson said. "You could talk all day about the Benton mural — the good, bad and ugly he painted."