When You Work at a Museum

Today we sit down with Kate Whitman, Vice President of Public Programs, to learn a little more about her and her role at the Atlanta History Center. Overseeing all educational and public programming components for Atlanta History Center and the Margaret Mitchell House, Whitman also ensures we bring stellar authors and guest speakers for our author program series.

Q: How did you land this job at the Atlanta History Center?

I was the Curator of Education at the Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art when I noticed the opening for a Manager of School Programs. My second interview was a group interview and I was immediately struck by how much excitement and energy the education team had. I was one of four employees at MCMA and loved the idea of being part of a big team in a large institution. That was 14 years ago, gulp!

Q: As the Vice President of Public Programs, you oversee some of the really cool family programs we offer. Do you have favorite?

Well, I am partial to Fall Folklife Festival; it is my favorite time of year, we have often tied it to Foodways and historic recipes at the Smith Family Farm, and we sell beer! Haunted Halloween is becoming a close second, though. I have been amazed at what the creative minds at Atlanta History Center have done with that, and love how collaborative that is across departments.

Q: What’s the best part of your job?                                             

My staff! They are truly some of the most passionate and creative people I have ever known. I have loved watching the way Atlanta History Center has changed as a result of my team and their programs, projects, and shear passion for history.

I, for sure, don’t mind getting free books either! One of the many perks of the job!

Q: What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?

Figuring out how to do it all, and knowing when it is time to say goodbye to a program.

Q: You help ensure we have some of the top names in the literary world come to the Atlanta History Center and Margaret Mitchell House. Have you ever been star struck by any of these authors?

Yes, occasionally. Though, after 10+ years of having so many authors come to both the Atlanta History Center and Margaret Mitchell House, I am a little immune to it.

Some of the more memorable moments of celebrity authors and guests would include having Tom Brokaw, the voice of my childhood, call my cell phone. That was a big moment for me! And, meeting Sally Mann, my favorite artist and the subject of my thesis, was another huge moment for me. And, she was the absolute coolest person ever!

I rarely even take pictures with the celebrities we host. I suppose I am trying to keep the air of professionalism going.

Q: The Summer Author Program is just around the corner. Who are you most excited about having come to Atlanta History Center or Margaret Mitchell House?

I am excited to hear from Nathan Hill, author of The Nix. He is going to be a major voice for this current generation and I can’t wait to hear him discuss his book.

Q: What’s your strangest #museumlife moment?

There are way too many to pick just one, I guess I am always amazed at how people meeting their favorite authors overshare really personal information!

Q: What is something that many people don’t know about you?

Those who have been to a wedding with me know this but I love to dance, like booty shake dance. And R&B and Hip Hop are my favorites.

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