Profile of an Anthropology Collections Manager
What is your name?
Rachel Kaleilehua Malloy
What is your position called?
Anthropology Collections Manager
Where do you work?
Nevada State Museum, Carson City, Nevada
How many years have you been working in this capacity?
2 ½ years
When did you join SPNHC?
What drew you to the natural history field?
After I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas, I moved to Hawaii and volunteered at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum. I loved working at the Museum. The staff was welcoming and the campus was beautiful. I was awed by the enormity and diversity of the collections and was humbled by my proximity to Hawaiian cultural objects. I knew that I wanted to work in museums in order to preserve collections for future generations. After research into different graduate schools and programs, I applied for and was accepted into the Museum Science program at Texas Tech University.
Describe the nature of the collections you work with.
The anthropology collection encompasses western United States archaeological and ethnographic collections dating from 10,500 years in age to the present. Ethnographic American Indian collections reflect the Museum’s specialization in the Great Basin and neighboring California regions. The Museum is also the state’s principal repository for archaeological materials recovered from public lands.
What are your responsibilities for them?
I manage approximately two million artifacts located in two curatorial facilities. I am responsible for processing incoming collections, retrieving artifacts/specimens for research or exhibition, and monitoring storage conditions.
Describe some of your activities.
We moved the Anthropology collections two years ago and have been waiting for an end to construction to unpack our collections into our new curation areas. We just ordered new cabinets and shelving and hope to move in sometime soon.
What do you find most interesting about your work?
The Anthropology Department at the Nevada State Museum has a variety of collections ranging from beautifully crafted Western American Indian basketry to Nevada Pleistocene megafauna. Working with such a diverse collection keeps me on my toes.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
One of my major projects is improving artifact and object storage at the Indian Hills Curatorial Center (IHCC). IHCC is an off-site repository desperately in need of much TLC after decades of benign neglect. We are replacing wooden shelving with metal pallet racks and have placed dataloggers in the storage areas.
What do you find most fulfilling about your work?
With the collection move in 2007, we transferred a large portion of the collection from plywood cabinetry into new metal cabinets. We also removed artifacts from acidic housing (i.e. newspaper, mailing boxes) into archival material (i.e. custom-made blueboard boxes). These activities enforce the reason I went into the museum field, long-term preservation of collections.
What have you learned from SPNHC to be particularly helpful? How has SPNHC helped you?
After I was introduced to SPNHC in 2001 by Ann Pinzl (thanks Ann!), I have attended four conferences and found them invaluable, not only for the technical information, but also for networking. One of my favorite workshops was the IPM Workshop in London. I loved identifying the pests under the microscope and still use the hand-outs as a reference. The list-serve serves as a helpful tool when I require quick advice from other museum professionals.