Michelle M. Frauenberger
Twenty years ago I began an extraordinary journey with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. Fresh out of college and looking to gain experience working in a museum, I applied to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. As luck would have it, the Library was in the process of expanding its public programs, and I was hired to assist the Pubic Affairs Specialist.
Several years into my time at the Library, I was offered the opportunity to work in the Museum Department – an offer I leapt at – and thus began my on-the-job education in the world of museum work.
In my transition from public affairs assistant to Museum Collections Manager, I have had the chance to examine Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt through a variety of resources: documents, photos, films, books, etc. Add to these sources the objects in the Museum collection, and the Roosevelts truly become dimensional figures.
Like the museum collections in all the Presidential Libraries, our collection of over 34,000 objects is wonderfully varied. It ranges from personal items collected and used by Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt to objects associated with their public lives and the eras in which they lived – and everything in-between.
As the Museum Collections Manager I have the day-to-day responsibility of managing this rich collection of artifacts. This entails the accessioning, cataloging, and tracking of the objects, insuring their safe storage, conducting preservation work on items, and arranging for outside conservation work when necessary. All this is made especially challenging as the Library has been undergoing a multi-year major renovation project. My duties also extend to researching objects, coordinating the loan of objects to institutions around the world, working with the Director and Supervisory Museum Curator on the acquisition of new objects, assisting with exhibit development, and – perhaps one of the most rewarding tasks – answering research queries. All facilitated by the camaraderie, cohesion, and support of a fantastic Library and Museum staff.
As the FDR Library and Museum moves into the final year of its renovation, I am looking forward to the beginning of an exciting new era for the Library (I may even get a little giddy over the new storage and processing facilities we will be gaining for the Museum collection!). An era in which we will bring increased public awareness of our Museum collection through dynamic new exhibits, web-based programs, and the continuation of loans to outside institutions.