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Caitlin Emery

Cultural and Historic Preservation

After graduating from Salve, Caitlin Emery ’07 completed the University of Delaware’s Winterthur Program in American Material Culture and worked as a cataloging and research assistant at Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library.

In 2010, Emery returned to Rhode Island for a fellowship in the museum affairs department at the Preservation Society of Newport County. She recalled making connections with Preservation Society staff while conducting research for her senior thesis and attributes her involvement as a student to her eventual career with the Preservation Society. 

During her time in Newport, Emery worked as both a museum programs coordinator and a research and interpretation coordinator. “My work at the Preservation Society combined everything I love most about museums and historic sites: exhibitions, public programs, interpretation and the art and architecture of the late 19th century,” she said.

With a strong passion for museums, Emery is a frequent visitor to regional museums and historic sites. “My husband and I are avid travelers, and I have been known to plan a trip around specific museums,” she said. “One trip I successfully petitioned for a detour through Granada so we could visit the Alhambra.”

Emery is currently the curatorial director at Old Sturbridge Village, where she oversees the management, care and documentation of more than 50,000 historic objects and 35,000 library volumes. “There is no such thing as an average day, and that’s what I love most about my job,” she said. “Whether it’s moving objects between locations, planning an exhibition, doing a bit of research, working on grant applications, meeting with donors or just answering emails, there is never a dull moment.”

Emery said that in order to decide what you want to pursue after graduation, it is important to find out what you don’t want to do. “Sometimes the best way to figure out what you want to do in life is to cross things off the list,” she said. “If you think you know what you want to do after graduation, do some research – reach out to people who work in that particular field and talk to them about their jobs.”

Not only did the cultural and historic preservation program help Emery find her path, it helped her find her voice. “Being in an environment where I was forced to speak up during class discussions helped me become more confident in voicing my opinion and articulating my ideas,” she said.

She encourages students of all majors to use their years as undergraduates to explore the many opportunities available. “Try different things and don’t be afraid to make mistakes,” she said.