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Rachael A. Moss
What She supports:
The Carnegie Museums Annual Fund as a monthly sustaining donor
Why it matters:
“My museums give me keys to give back to future generations.”
For years, I was a casual visitor and ardent Carnegie Museums fangirl, proudly brandishing my Dual membership card. I’d pop in with a friend on a Saturday. This was the “greatest hits” version of museum attendance: visit a few biomes, check out some human epochs, wave to the Protoceratops (the best dinosaur), and walk out the door. I treated the museums as “a given”: It was a given that I could walk into a marble palace full of dinosaurs, priceless artworks, and ancient artifacts. At a certain point, those givens began to accumulate for me, because I realized that from seminars to summer camps, the museums were more than a low-cost edutainment option. It was then that I knew I needed to move the museums from being a given to instituting my own process of giving.
I started moving from given to giving by committing to monthly contributions, and I became a Guild-level member. This was also around the time when I received my dream job as a freshman literature teacher. A student’s freshman year stands as a survey into a larger literary world.
During my first few years, I spent just about every waking moment preparing and researching. Of course, on just about any given Saturday, I visited Carnegie Museums in Oakland. And though I did stop by the Protoceratops (again: the best dinosaur), my time became work time. Sure, my museum fangirl status had its perks. Because I loved the museums, because I did visit for my own delight, I knew the collections, and I knew where they could help me and thus help my students. Truly, the museums stood as a given for so long that I forgot about their status as a learning institution until I was curating knowledge for the next generation.
In my classroom, I pride myself on my depth of knowledge for each of my units. In the fall, it’s A Study in Scarlet, investigating and deducing with Sherlock and Watson. As Christmas rolls around, it’s short fiction by Truman Capote and Isak Dinesen, stories of patched-quilt families, disparate scraps of worn and warm people forming something lasting. I pinball between William Shakespeare’s Verona and Harper Lee’s Alabama in the spring, and when summer starts to swelter, I land on the shores of Ithaca along with Odysseus, finally done after an unexpected and relentless journey.
Fiction, it must be known, does not exist in a vacuum. It is instead the product of the time period each author experienced. It is difficult, for example, to understand Sherlock Holmes’ London in A Study in Scarlet without understanding its key for-hire transportation method (the hansom cab). And it’s impossible to understand the widespread privation in To Kill a Mockingbird (how is it that a lawyer and his children are poor?) without understanding the Great Depression.
The museums, more than any other institutions of continued learning, give me an education that knits together the continuous thread of scientific theory and thought, the natural environment and human history. The museums answer my whys and hows better than any digital assistant or search engine. The museums are my second home, my favorite classroom.
Though I am a public schoolteacher and not of the class of prodigiously pocketbooked philanthropists who founded my museums, I am still a key donor to an organization that gives me far more than any of the endless givens ever could. My museums give me keys to give back to future generations. And that’s why I’ll keep giving, and why I hope maybe you will, too.
To learn more about giving opportunities at Carnegie Museums, contact Liz McFarlin-Marciak at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412.622.8859.
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