A new curator has been hired to direct the museum at Cumberland County Historical Society.
Rachel Knapp graduated with a bachelor degree in history at Slippery Rock University and earned her master’s degree in public history at Middle Tennessee State University. Before joining the Historical Society, Knapp worked at the United States Olympic Committee Archives and Pro Football Hall of Fame. She has worked extensively with collections management, exhibit creation and museum accessibility.
The previous museum curator at the Cumberland County Historical Society once told Rachael Zuch that when a curator gets the museum exactly whe…
“CCHS is thrilled to have Rachel join our team as we work to collect, preserve, interpret and promote the history of Cumberland County,” Executive Director Jason Illari said.
Knapp talked about her new role for this week’s 5 Questions.
Q. What drew you to working with museum collections?
A. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what drew me to museum collections, but I have always had a love of history. When I finally decided museum studies was the track I wanted to study in college, collections and exhibit work felt like a natural fit for me. Creating exhibits really allowed me to explore my creative and storytelling side, while collections holds an organizational and systematic structure that melds well with my more Type-A personality.
Q. The position at the Historical Society is a bit of a shift from the U.S. Olympic Committee Archives and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. What can you bring from those high-profile locations to CCHS?
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A. Every cultural institution is important to the preservation of a certain area or subject’s history. In order to be an effective steward of public memory, I learned a museum must honor their mission statement. By continually referencing this creed, each professional keeps their work and vision in line with the organization, which allows the institution to move forward.
Q. What are you most looking forward to in your new position?
A. I am really looking forward to getting to meet people in the community and understanding what they are expecting of CCHS and how I can better craft an experience they will want to come and visit time and time again.
Q. What is your vision for the museum?
A. I envision the museum continuing its journey as a prominent and respected pillar of the community, reaching a larger audience as we continue our efforts to reach out and offer a variety of ways to learn and celebrate the rich history of Cumberland County.
Q. Is there one artifact or story that you’ve already encountered at CCHS that struck you in some way, positive or negative?
A. One artifact that really stuck out to me is a large copper kettle on display. It is a seemingly ordinary object, but I connected with it immediately, as it reminded me of my family’s tradition of making apple butter in a similar copper kettle. It is CCHS’ aim to help every guest have a positive experience by forming an emotional connection with the stories and artifacts displayed because they reflect and honor the memories of their own history.