Tyson Robinson, 2007

Coordinator, Historical Unit, Mayo Clinic in Arizona 

I’ve been working as the coordinator of the Historical Unit at Mayo Clinic for the last 10 years in Scottsdale, Arizona. You may wonder why a museum professional would work at a healthcare organization. That is, until you hear that Mayo Clinic encompasses several schools, libraries, historic buildings, a collection of artwork that rivals most museums, and a value system that has endured over 150 years. These values, which guide Mayo Clinic’s mission to this day, are an expression of the vision and intent of our founders, the original Mayo physicians and the Sisters of Saint Francis. They are also what enabled Mayo Clinic to grow from a small family practice in Rochester, Minnesota, into an organization with over 63,000 employees at campuses in Minnesota, Florida, and Arizona. Throughout this growth Mayo Clinic has always maintained its culture and traditions created by the Mayo Family. The Arizona Historical Unit was created in 2006 to interpret the institutional culture, and to collect and preserve the history in Arizona.  

MUSE alumni Tyson Robinson stands in front of an anniversary exhibit for the Mayo Clinic, along with other members of his team.I took over the unit in 2007 during a major yearlong celebration. Additionally, I arrived to a newly formed archive and programs that were just past the idea phase. My role has become a combination of different museum positions and responsibilities. The first part of my role is to manage an archive with collections ranging from paper to multimedia. In this role I have transitioned the collection to new management software and moved to an environmentally controlled space. I support institutional anniversaries in addition to overseeing milestone celebrations for the Arizona campus (three to date). Activities for our milestone celebrations include historical displays, campus timelines, guest lectures, campus videos, and employee recognition gifts. A highlight for me was traveling with a specially designed mobile exhibit housed in a semi-trailer to San Diego, Kansas City, and New York City for Mayo Clinic’s 150th anniversary in 2014.

In between archiving and anniversaries I conduct oral histories, manage websites, bring in lecturers and maintain display cases. The unit also supports an annual week of events every October called Heritage Days. Each year Mayo creates a historic film and produces displays for each campus. In Arizona, I host a premiere with more than eight showings and host an ice cream social for over 6,000 individuals. I also manage a premedical scholars program with 50 undergraduate students from Arizona State University. The program includes lectures and medical skills labs throughout the school year and provides opportunities for the students to shadow Mayo physicians and allied health staff.

Outside of Mayo Clinic I am the president of the Central Arizona Museum Association (CAMA). CAMA maintains a website, hosts meetings and professional development events, and distributes a regularly updated MUSE alumni Tyson Robinson stands with other members of his team in Phoenix, Arizona.brochure about member museums in the Phoenix area. I am also on the local host committee for the 2018 Annual Meeting & Museum Expo for American Alliance of Museums (AAM) in Phoenix. We are planning several exciting events for the conference and are very enthusiastic to host the first AAM conference in Arizona.

My classes and experiences in the MUSE program at Kansas University provided the foundation for my career in the museum field and at Mayo Clinic. In each class I gained valuable knowledge that I utilize constantly, from archival skills to exhibition design to museum theory. My advice for future students and graduates is to be involved with as many events and opportunities as you can at Kansas. You never know when you might call upon these experiences in your future endeavors.

If you would like to know more about Mayo Clinic’s history check out history.mayoclinic.org. To find out about museums the Phoenix area visit azcama.org.

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Museum Events

Art Cart: Painted Fans
Saturday, January 20 | 1 p.m.-4 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Sam and Connie Perkins Central Court, 317
1301 Mississippi St.
The Art Cart is a drop-in activity station where children and grown-ups enjoy hands-on art projects together, taking inspiration from original works of art. After traveling the world, Sallie Casey Thayer donated her collection of objects to KU to form what is now the Spencer Museum of Art. Learn about Mrs. Thayer and create a painted folding fan to start your own collection.

Slow Art Sunday: Steel Wool Peignoir
Sunday, January 21 | 2 p.m.-3 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Kemper Family Foundations Balcony, 408
1301 Mississippi St.
Slow down at the Spencer and spend time getting to know one great work of art. Slow Art Sunday features one work for visitors to contemplate and converse about with Museum staff. In January, get to know Steel Wool Peignoir by Mimi Smith.

Science on Tap: The Cambrian: More than just Trilobites
Wednesday, January 24 | 7:30 p.m.
Free State Brewing Co., 636 Massachusetts St.
The Cambrian is a time in Earth’s history when many modern animal relatives make their first appearance. It is also a time when many bizarre animals without modern relatives appear in the fossil record. At this Science on Tap, Dr. Julien Kimmig will talk about the diversity of animals during this amazing period and what it can teach us about the future of life on earth. 

Career Close-ups: Developing a Career in the Museum World
Friday, January 26 | 2 p.m.-4 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, Auditorium 309
1301 Mississippi St.
Undergraduate and graduate students are invited to explore how any major can lead to a career in a cultural organization. A panel of museum professionals will share their experiences, followed by a networking reception and behind-the-scenes tours of KU’s museums. This year’s panelists include: Dina Bennett (Mulvane Art Museum, Washburn University), Glenn North (Black Archives of Mid-America), and Adrianne Russell (Cabinet of Curiosities). Advance registration is required at www.spencerart.ku.edu/career-closeups. Please register by January 24. Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/476618689399321/
Sponsored by the Spencer Museum of Art, KU Natural History Museum, University Career Center, and the Museum Studies Program.

Final Friday: Community and Culture Closing Celebration
Friday, January 26 | 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Watkins Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St.
The Watkins, in partnership with the Max Kade Center and the Lawrence Opera Theatre, present an evening of 19th-century German-American music and cuisine.

Discovery Day: Celebrating Kansas
Sunday, January 28 | 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
KU Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd.
In honor of Kansas Day, join us for hands-on activities that are all about Kansas wildlife, plants and fossils. 

Kenneth A. Spencer Lecture: An Evening with Eve L. Ewing: Poetry in Context
Wednesday, January 31 | 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Liberty Hall, 644 Massachusetts St.
Eve L. Ewing is a sociologist, poet, essayist, artist, and educator whose research focuses on racism, social inequality, urban policy, and the impact of these forces on American public schools and the lives of young people. Dr. Ewing earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is recognized as a leader and social influencer, especially in conversations involving academia, writing, black women, and the intersection of politics and popular culture. Sponsored by The Commons.

University in the Art Museum for Graduate Students
Thursday, February 1 | 3 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Spencer Museum of Art, 1301 Mississippi St.
University in the Art Museum introduces graduate students to opportunities for object-based teaching, learning, and research through collaborative partnerships with the Spencer Museum of Art. This workshop includes discussions led by graduate students in the departments of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Geography; and Atmospheric Science. Advance registration is required by Monday, January 29. Register online at https://spencerart.ku.edu/uam.

Extraordinary Animals: Awesome Adaptations
Sunday, February 4 | 1 p.m.-3 p.m.
KU Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd.
At this new monthly animal event, parents and children are invited to learn about animals of Kansas. Museum Animal Specialist Ashley Welton will offer presentations about animal adaptations using touchable specimens from the museums collections at 1:15, 1:45 and 2:15 pm. 

FeBREWary at the Watkins
Thursday, February 15 | 6 p.m.-9 p.m.
Watkins Museum of History, 1047 Massachusetts St.
The Watkins, in partnership with Lawrence Beer Co., presents an evening of beer, food, and knowledge! Enjoy beer and a fascinating talk on brewing provided by Lawrence Beer Co., plus food from local restaurants and an informal museum tour. Tickets are $15 for DCHS members, $20 for non-members. You may sign up online or contact the museum at 785-841-4109. We recommend buying in advance. Ages 21 and over only, please. More information and registration.

Winter Table: An Evening of Herpetology
Wednesday, February 28 | 6:30 p.m.
KU Natural History Museum, 1345 Jayhawk Blvd.
A celebration of more than 100 years of KU herpetology research programs and the careers of Linda Trueb and Bill Duellman. Explore the Natural History Museum's reptile and amphibian collections and enjoy appetizers and drinks. Dine in the Panorama Gallery with KU herpetology scientists and students conducting reptile and amphibian research across the globe. 

6:30 pm: appetizers, drinks and science salon
7:00 pm: dinner and program
$50 per person 

Reserve your space now at the 2018 Winter Table by ordering tickets online. Tickets are $50 per person. You may also call 785-864-4450 to purchase by phone or you may purchase tickets at the museum lobby during business hours. Questions? Contact biodiversity@ku.edu or 785-864-4450.

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