New museum hires first paid employee

New museum hires first paid employee

Illinois College history major brings stability to Jacksonville Area Museum

By Francesca Boston
Photo by Tiffany Warmowski

McKenna Servis, a Petersburg native and current Illinois College student, is Jacksonville Area Museum’s first paid employee, bringing stability and consistency to the museum.

Servis started as an intern for the museum itself in the summer of 2021, then transitioned to intern for the MacMurray Foundation and Alumni Association, who kept her on as an intern working solely with the MacMurray collection. She became the museum’s first paid employee on Jan. 2, 2022. She works part-time, as she is finishing up her double major in history and political science.

David Blanchette, chairmen of the board for the Jacksonville Area Museum, said that it’s a big step to have a paid employee at the museum. He said they chose Servis as she provides stability to the museum and has a passion for local history.

“This is a major step, getting a paid staff person at the museum, so we had to start somewhere, and we started with someone who’s proven to do a good job. Having a paid employee gives a little bit more stability and when you have stability, that means the public can count on you,” Blanchette said.

Samantha Sauer, an assistant professor of history and the archivist at Illinois College, describes Servis as a hard-working individual who has made a difference at the museum in the short time she has been there, and brought great things to the table.

“She also has done some excellent hands-on work and internship experience at Illinois College with the archives and museum, [she brings] a mix of academic and hands-on experience, in and outside the classroom. [She is] just a very focused, emerging professional with a great desire to make a difference and an excellent work ethic,” Sauer said.

Tiffany Warmowski, who is board member of both the museum and the MacMurray Foundation, said that she has had the pleasure of watching Servis grow in her position at the museum and take on more responsibilities, working on both the Jacksonville area history and the MacMurray collection that is stored and displayed at the museum. Warmowski said that she has been very impressed with how Servis has taken initiative at the museum and is passionate about the mission of the institution.

“She’s extremely motivated. I think that she is extremely cognizant, and she understands the unique position that she’s taken on and she’s doing such a wonderful job in taking the lead on a lot of things,” Warmowski said.

Servis said this job has been great, not only for the experience but the fact it has reaffirmed that she has made the right choice with her education.

Servis said she believes it is important to preserve and protect local history because history starts in small towns, and that protecting this history is protecting the understanding of where we came and from. To her, the museum is a way to build community pride and connection, as well.

“I just think it reinforces the connection that the public has to their own community,” Servis said. “I think [the museum has] just made Jacksonville even more unique and stronger.”

The Jacksonville Area Museum is open Wednesday and Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday 1-4 p.m.

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