2009 Grad Kelsee Hankins talks to Millikin Quarterly about her role at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis
MILLIKIN QUARTERLY: What are some of your duties as an actor/interpreter at the museum?
KELSEE HANKINS: Sometimes I pretend I’m Egyptian. Sometimes I play with dinosaurs. Sometimes I think I’m caught in the middle of World War II, or maybe I’m singing in the Lilly Theatre or with the Chorduroys (the museum’s barbershop group whose name is a play on the word “chords”). I wear a lot of hats and get to do something different every day.
MQ: What is your favorite exhibit at the museum so far?
KH: Right now, I’m a huge fan of the Take Me There: China gallery. This exhibit allows visitors to learn about modern Chinese life. Visitors can “shop” in a Chinese store, check out urban and village homes in China, or learn about Shaolin Kung Fu at its birthplace – The Shaolin Temple. I helped to pilot the Kung Fu program, and now I lead it several times a week. It’s one of my favorite programs to do with our visitors.
MQ: Had you considered working there previously?
KH: I lived about 45 minutes away from the museum as a child and loved coming here. I even had fun visiting as a young adult out of high school. I always had friends who worked here before me, but until I saw a job posting in fall 2012, I had not thought much about working here.
MQ: Are there any perks that come with working at a museum?
KH: In Indianapolis, we have the Arts Consortium where we can use our work ID for discounts at most major performing arts venues and free admission to Indianapolis’ other museums. I also consider the availability of professional development opportunities here to be a perk.
MQ: What did you learn at Millikin that you’ve been able to apply at work?
KH: I studied theatre at MU and my performance studies have been very valuable. Ask any Millikin freshman theatre major about script scoring and I’m sure they’d have a lot to say about it, but I’m thankful I know it now. It allows me to create more realistic characters when learning new programs/performances. I also learned the value of excellent time management since I was involved in several different activities and organizations. It’s important here since I’m always learning or studying something new.
MQ: What do children take from their visit to the museum?
KH: I think most leave with the memory of a fun experience and curiosity about something they’ve seen here. Hopefully, that curiosity will encourage them to want to learn more on their own, at school or with their grownups. There is something for every member of the family to learn and take home from their visit. Even grandparents!
MQ: What are some of the rewards and challenges of working with children?
KH:I always appreciate their smiles and cheers when they are experiencing something new. For example, I love watching kids respond to our live transformation of the Transformer Bumblebee. Some get scared, but most are very excited and cheer him on. Hearing children and families tell me they are inspired to learn more about something in our museum after a performance is rewarding. As far as challenges, I work with a multitude of kids of varying ages every day. Often, I have to make a performance work for 5-year-olds and make the same performance work for high school students a few hours later. There is often a crying child or a cell phone ringing, but that’s expected. It is live theatre, and as actors we learn to work around that.
MQ: If you could have any job other than your own at the museum, what would it be?
KH: This is a tough question, since my job fits me pretty well! However, I think it would be cool to be a part of designing exhibits for our visitors. Or maybe CEO. I like to take charge and get things done, and I think being CEO of a museum like this would be very exciting and definitely not boring.