Cementing Relationships

In April Jeanne McGuire, Office Manager at F.Patrick McGuire, D.D.S. of Sylva, North Carolina, contacted Pam Meister, Curator at WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center in Cullowee, with an unusual request. She wanted to set up a time for the entire staff to volunteer at the museum. Why volunteering? McGuire hoped that an afternoon out of the office working together, rather than in separate treatment spaces, would be a team-building experience.

Why the Mountain Heritage Center? The McGuire family has a fascinating history and artifact legacy, partially housed at the museum. In 1908 Daisy McGuire, Patrick McGuire’s grandmother, became the first woman licensed to practice dentistry in North Carolina. She continued practicing until the age of 97. She was not only the daughter of a dentist, but her husband, two of her daughters, and two of her grandsons also became dentists.

The Mountain Heritage Center’s collection contains 69 artifacts relating to this pioneering professional, ranging from a dentist chair and Dr. Daisy’s medicine bag to dental implements, medicines, a false teeth sample case (pictured here), and molds for making false teeth.

Curator Pam Meister explains collections needs to McGuire Dentistry volunteers.

Always on the lookout for new ways to engage audiences, Meister readily accepted McGuire’s offer. Given that dental office staff members specialize in precise, meticulous, and hygienic work, Meister knew that their skills would be a good fit for collections storage cleaning projects. Dr. McGuire and his staff were indeed able to accomplish a set of important tasks.

Strengthening your institution’s connection to its community does not only involve outreach to new groups. Equally important is a sustained effort toward cementing and building upon existing relationships. By being open and willing to accommodate the needs of an unusual interest group, Meister was able to accomplish much more than a clean storage area. She was able to invest more of the McGuire family’s hearts and hands in the Mountain Heritage Center.

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About collectionsconversations

This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on July 31, 2012, in cleaning, collections care, museums, public programs and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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