1. How long have you been employed at Mystic Seaport?
MM: It will be four years in May. It has been a real learning curve for me because I cover so many different exhibits. I am usually on the Dunton one day a week, but also work in the Cooperage, the Print Shop or the Schaefer or Mallory Exhibit Halls. I’m sort of partial to the Print Shop; I enjoy demonstrating the workings of a print shop in the 1870s. Visitors love the chance for the hands-on experience of setting type and printing something themselves. I’m pleased that the Museum is having more activities like that available to visitors of all ages.
2. What’s the best part of your job?
MM: I consider the variety in my job a special advantage. Visitors ask interesting questions and the give and take can make a difference in how they view history and how they remember their visit to Mystic Seaport. Also, during Lantern Light Tours, I have fun involving the tour group by making them feel part of history.
3. What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
MM: Being an interpreter requires a fair amount of study, but that benefits both me as well as Museum visitors. I need to be well-versed in everything about the particular exhibit I’m staffing. Besides answering visitors’ questions, I try to paint a verbal picture of what people’s lives were like during the 1870s. The challenge comes in making what I say interesting enough to hold visitors’ attention.
4. What’s the funniest or most notable on-the-job experience you’ve had?
MM: Especially when I work in the Print Shop, visitors sometimes assume that my career life had been in the printing business. Now imagine the learning process for this non-sailor who had to learn every little detail, down to the ship’s parts, when I began interpreting on the Dunton.
5. What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work?
MM: I do quite a bit of volunteer work, including Hospice and teaching Sunday school. I’m also Chair of the Groton Housing Authority, which works with low-income families. I like to read, mostly political or historical books, but I’ve recently gotten interested in mysteries. And now that it’s finally spring, I can enthusiastically add gardening to the list.
Mike was interviewed by Volunteer Trudi Busey and photographed by Dennis Murphy.