Maggie Malone: Making Museums Interactive
Maggie Malone strives to learn something new every day.
Working at a 285,000-square-foot historical museum with more than two million artifacts in its collections makes that goal a relatively easy one.
Malone serves as registrar for the largest history museum in Texas, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum (PPHM), located on the campus of West Texas A&M University. The interactive museum allows visitors to relive the stories of courage and hardship, victory and defeat, over the past 14,000 years.
“We provide our guests an experience and not just a walk-through,” says Malone, a 2004 Alma College graduate. “It helps you make a connection; it helps make your visit stay in your mind after you leave.”
To add a humanizing effect to the great stories of the past, the PPHM recently hosted an effort to collect tangible memorabilia that belonged to soldiers and volunteers from World War I.
“You’re no longer just reading something in a book when you can see the boots worn by a real soldier,” says Malone. “Seeing items in person is much more memorable, and having them there in front of you makes it real.”
A world traveler
Malone has always been about real-world experiences. She participated in the study abroad program with Alma College at Aberdeen University in Scotland and has since traveled to more than eight countries and most of the states in the continental U.S.
“I love to travel, and I love learning,” says Malone, who majored in sociology and completed a program of emphasis in anthropology. “I taught myself basic Korean, which I put to use when I visited South Korea in 2014. It is my goal to learn something new every day.”
At Alma College, Malone drew inspiration from student-mentor connections. Malone took classes with current faculty member Chih-Ping Chen, but the bond the two formed outside of the classroom helped her develop into the woman she is today.
Former professor Mary Theresa Bonhage-Freund introduced Malone to many new experiences, including archeological digs in Michigan and an internship with the Field Museum in Chicago, where she learned many of the same practices she uses in her current work.
At PPHM, Malone focuses on information management, taking an active hand in exhibit preparations and execution and creating Fun Fact Friday write-ups for PPHM’s social media accounts - posts that feature items from the history and textile collections that might not otherwise be seen by the public.
Although this is just a snapshot of her vast role as register, Malone often relies on the skills she’s learned as a Scot in every aspect of her career. In fact, she believes selecting a small, liberal arts college is still the best decision of her life.
“I continue to utilize what I learned and experienced at Alma College not only in my job, but I am able to apply it in my everyday living,” says Malone. “It was through the smaller class sizes and the ability to connect with my professors on a one-on-one basis that I was able to achieve some of the milestones in my life, as well as allowing me to enjoy and learn from my college experience.”
Whether it’s providing an impactful guest experience or giving insight to other professionals in the field, Maggie Malone loves to serve as a role model to teach others something new every day.