Museum reopens with new interpreter
By Samantha Hyde
February 28, 2022
A passion for museum education has brought California-native Melania Majowicz to IU Libraries’ Wylie House Museum, which has reopened to public, in-person tours after a hiatus of over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Built in 1835 by Andrew Wylie, the first president of Indiana University, the Wylie House is now a historic house museum operated by IU Libraries. It serves as a campus resource for classes and research and presents the home as it would have been in the 1840s.
Majowicz is the new museum generalist and outdoor interpreter. Picking up where former staff led the way, she plans to preserve native and heirloom plants on the property and cultivate its historic garden spaces. New garden beds will reflect the plants grown by the Wylie family, as well as highlight plants used for 19th-century domestic purposes such as dyeing fabrics. She also wants to create more outdoor programs in these spaces to gather the community and support IU student learning.
“I get to do a lot of things here at the Wylie House,” Majowicz said. “I’ll be getting dirty in the garden, managing the native and heirloom plants and developing some fun outdoorsy programming.”
In addition to continuing to learn the administrative and curatorial duties associated with managing the historic house, she will also be making connections with other IU units, departments and faculty to maximize the academic potential of her programming efforts. Typical days right now involve working closely with the museum director and IU student staff to learn as much as she can about Wylie House, IU and local history to support future interpretive and educational programming plans.
With an original interest in formal teaching, Majowicz found her passion for museum education after a visit to the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. She has an undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology from the University of California and has a graduate degree in museum education from University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Her most recent position, as a museum educator at the Independence Seaport Museum, involved integrating history with conservation and science programming. Part of her many duties there involved developing and maintaining both native and floating wetland garden spaces.
“Melania brings so many strengths with her that will support the museum’s academic mission,” said Carey Champion, the Wylie House Museum director. “Her background in museum education will help us build upon our momentum to create programs and immersive learning experiences for IU classes and individual students. Her creative thinking, management skills and ability to integrate new understandings into a historic setting will be invaluable as Wylie House continues to broaden its interpretive scope and campus partnerships.”
After living in Philadelphia for nearly a decade, Majowicz moved to Bloomington last summer. She became familiar with Wylie House Museum after taking part in its seed giveaway program last year. She said she was excited to be able to grow flowers and herbs here and learn about local history. In Philadelphia, Majowicz picked up biking as a way of commuting and is now able to enjoy biking as a hobby as well. She also enjoys spending time with her pet rabbit and cat, Ben Solo and Empress Palpatine.
For more information, contact Majowicz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-855-1858. To schedule a tour with Wylie House, visit their website, call 812-855-6224 or email libwylie@ indiana.edu.
Samantha Hyde is an intern with IU Studios.