Our next member profile is that of Samantha George, Curator of Parkwood Estate National Historic Site (Parkwood NHS).
A graduate from York University with a degree in History and Anothropology, Samantha obtained her diploma in Museum Studies from Algonquin College. Samantha first came to Parkwood Estate NHS at the end of the summer 2000.
Let’s learn a little bit more about Samantha!
What do you do at Parkwood NHS?
I am the Curator which means that I manage several different areas, but most importantly the areas that represent the museum and the preservation and public presentation elements of our history; the artefact collection, including the decorative arts, historic furnishings, architectural elements, interior and exterior; the archives, including the oral history program; the interpretive and educational programming; the volunteer program; social media programming.
It is my job to ensure that what Parkwood NHS has/is as a National Historic Site is preserved for generations to come and that people understand its legacy as a gem among collections/historic sites.
Why did you choose this career?
I was in university and volunteering with the Royal Ontario Museum with aspirations of a career in archaeology, realising that I enjoyed field work, but my love was more the museological side of things.
I shifted focus and continued with Museum Studies after my History/Anthro degree.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Over the years, my favourite aspect of the job, is a change from what I loathed most at the beginning, that never a day is the same. Since I wear so many hats, I never really know what each day will bring. A new discovery among the collection; seeing an artefact differently from the day before, because the light catches it in a new way, or research opens up an entirely new understanding,I can never plan for how the day will play out. Because of how my days are never the same, I have also come to realise that after 14 years at Parkwood NHS, I will never be able to have a cubicle office job, or find it very difficult finding myself in one of those.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of your job?
Like most non profits the lack of financial resources. With more resources, I wouldn’t have to wear so many hats, and concentrate on only curatorial matters.
How did you get into the museum field?
Honestly, I was in the right place at the right time (stolen from Jen cause it’s perfect for me too)
I was just finishing my internship at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, when the Parkwood Curator position was advertised. Raised in Whitby, I was a Durham native, and was working a summer job at the Oshawa Community Museum when I was offered the role at Parkwood.
What is your earliest memory of Parkwood NHS? OR What is your favourite memory of the Museum?
I have two favourites, so far.
The first servants’reunion as part of our oral history collection program, where former McLaughlin staff from as early as the 1930s until the 1970s were in one room, reminincing and sharing stories. AND
The first English as a Second Language Tour, where I witnessed a patron connecting his life story/ experience with an artefact. The joyfulness of him explaining the Breakfast Room carpet, from his hometown in Iran, to the rest of the international group, the weaving and dying techniques explained in detail, and throughout sheer emotion and enthusiasm dissolved the lanhuage barriers in the room. The amazing result that a single piece of material culture has at bringing the world together, I will never forget.
Do you have a favourite artifact?
It changes frequently, but one that I stop and admire on a regular basis is the Moorcroft vase, Chrysanthemums.