When people say “you learn something new every day” that statement should not be taken lightly. Throughout my time at the Louis Armstrong House Museum and Archives I have learned a lot about museum and archive work, Louis Armstrong, and how to navigate the world. The experience that I had during my fellowship is something that I will take with me for the rest of my career.
In the beginning of my fellowship there was a large learning curve, but over time I adapted and started to understand the ebbs and flows of my fellowship. At the museum I had to learn a few things: daily operations, email etiquette for tour bookings, how to give a house tour, and how to manage the front desk. The day to day tasks of the museum and how to give the tour was easier than other duties. Mastering how to handle busy museum days and navigating several school groups have given me the information and practice that will serve me in future jobs. Giving tours has allowed me to grow my public speaking skills and interact with people around the world. If you visit the Louis Armstrong Museum, you will meet every type of person and that diversity helped to enrich my knowledge of the world. My supervisors at the museum Adriana and Hyland helped to guide me through any issues that arose and supported my learning of museum operations which was beneficial both personally and professionally.
At the Louis Armstrong Archives, the personal items of the Armstrong family and the donations of others molded my understanding of Louis and his impact on the world. With the help of Sarah and Ricky I learned about Louis’ life and how his personal belongings reflected his ideas. The 700+ reel to reel tapes that he recorded guided my learning of Louis and his impact on those around him and in the music industry. On the tapes Louis was open and honest about his life and spoke freely about a variety of topics ranging from race, politics, trumpet playing, and commenting on new artists. At the archives there are also items that were donated such as photos, artwork, and other items that people had collected that were Louis related. One of the recent acquisitions was the Lil Hardin Chris Albertson collection which consisted of rare photos of Lil Hardin Armstrong and her unfinished manuscript of her autobiography. Overall, the archives gave me a hands-on education in Louis, jazz, and black history. With my fellowship now over, I look back on my time at the museum and archives with fondness. To all the staff at the museum and archives- Adriana, Hyland, Ricky, Sarah, the docents, Pedro- I want to thank you for teaching me about museum and archival work and being supportive of my learning and understanding of what it takes to make an organization work. I will miss all of you, but I know that you all will continue to educate people on Louis Armstrong and keep his memory alive