Meet an EMP: Kara Furman

Years in Museum Field: 4

Degrees/Certificates: BA in History, Lebanon Valley College
MA in History, Certificate in Public History, Northeastern University
Graduate Certificate in Museum Collections Management and Care, George Washington University

Current Occupation: Registrar at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Previous Museum Experience: Registrar for Collections Move, PMA
Visitor Services Assistant, PMA
Collections Intern, Glen Foerd on the Delaware
Volunteer/Tour Guide, Blair County Historical Society
Collections Intern, The Bostonian Society
Curatorial Intern, The AACA Museum

Other Relevant Work Experience: Sales Associate, RadioShack

Did a mentor play a significant role in your career development? Every internship supervisor I had was encouraging and gave me the opportunity to develop particular skill sets.  One told me that her main goal was to make sure that I got a full-time, permanent position.  She considered it her duty to help make that happen.  Without their help, I would never have gotten to where I am now!

How does your current position fit into your career plan? My current position is the entry level for my long-term career goals–to continue working in museum collections management.  Working at a large institution lets me hone particular skills that I hope to someday take to a smaller organization.

What museum organizations do you belong to? Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historic Organizations; American Alliance of Museums; Association of Registrars and Collections Specialists; Philly EMP

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you began in this profession? I wish I had been better at networking and staying in touch with other museum professionals.  I am naturally shy, and making and maintaining professional connections has at times been very challenging.  I also wish I had understood how to best market my skills in a resume and cover letter.  Those skills took a long time to develop.  Better resumes and cover letters would have definitely helped me obtain full-time, permanent employment faster.

What do you enjoy most about your position? I love working with the museum’s collections in such an intimate way.  Seeing an object go from being a “gift consideration” to a part of the permanent collection on display in the galleries is exciting!  The courier trips are another added bonus!

What is it that keeps you engaged at work? My love of working with museum objects keeps me interested and engaged, especially when the people I work with can be difficult.

Kara Furman became interested in working specifically in collections management in grad school.  Kara completed an internship and, after graduating, began volunteering for an historical society while looking for jobs.  Upon moving to Philadelphia, she took a temporary, part time job in visitor services at the PMA, and eventually began another collections internship at Glen Foerd on the Delaware.  “Eventually, a permanent, full-time position opened and my boss liked me well enough to promote me,” Kara recalled. “Definitely a case of being in the right place at the right time.” Kara’s favorite museums outside of Philly are the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

Fun Fact: Kara makes a pretty mean chili


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