CARSON CITY – Mina Stafford not only loves history and what museums have to offer, she especially loves sharing it with others.
“When I was an undergrad at the University of Arizona, I happened upon the Arizona State Museum and took a class that was teaching undergrad students how to give tours to elementary school students,” said Stafford, the new curator of education at the Nevada State Museum. “I just loved that class. That was great. So I changed by major (from psychology) over to anthropology and I studied linguistics and cultural anthropology.”
She also came to realize she wanted to be a part of sharing the stories a museum holds.
“I wasn’t content working by myself among the pottery shards,” said Stafford, a native of Tucson, Ariz. “I wanted to be in the front, sharing this amazing information and these amazing institutions with people.”
That desire led her to graduate school at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., which is one of the few institutions in the country that offers graduate studies in museum education.
“There are a lot of museums in Washington, D.C., and they were essentially our classroom,” she said. “We went to different museums and interviewed different professionals and did assignments having to do with those exhibits. That got me hooked, just being in grad school there and experiencing all the museums there, I was sure of it.”
Before starting as the curator of education at the Nevada State Museum in mid-February, Stafford served as the education curator at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson.
Nevada State Museum Director Myron Freedman said Stafford is a welcome addition to the staff.
“We are so excited to have someone with Mina’s expertise and passion for history leading our education programs,” Freedman said. “As education curator, she’ll be responsible for helping everyone who visits the museum connect with our stories and artifacts in meaningful and thought-provoking ways.”
For the past few weeks, Stafford has been meeting with museum staff and volunteers and getting a crash course in all things Nevada.
“The Nevada State Museum has a really strong education program already,” she said. “There’s a great group of docents that give tours. There’s a lot of resources and time put into developing education programs, so right now I’m just learning all of that – the education curriculum and Nevada history.”
Stafford and her husband, Craig, and son, Robert, live in Carson City.