Jessica Gebhard '20
Concentration: Linguistics and Anthropology
Hometown: River Heights, Utah
Employer: Harvard Museums of Science and Culture
Jessica Gebhard is from Logan, Utah, and has worked several jobs on campus. She was nominated for her work at the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture. There she works as a Visitor Services Attendant at the Harvard Semitic Museum and the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments. She welcomes people and answers any questions they may have about the artifacts on display.
She also works in Technical Services at Houghton Library where she helps preserve books, manuscripts, and photographs. She has worked at HMSC for almost two years and at Houghton Library since October 2018. On average, between the two jobs, she works 10 to 20 hours per week. At HMSC, she maintains the safety of the artifacts, and at Houghton Library she is involved in helping to prepare for the building’s renovation.
As a first generation college student, she participated in the mentor program facilitated by the Harvard Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, and her mentor was the one to recommend that she apply to work at the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture, since she always loves visiting museums when she travels to new cities. Working at HMSC has helped her realize that she would like to build a career working in museums, eventually as a curator or director. She began working at Houghton because she became interested in preservation and conservation. Some of her responsibilities at Houghton Library involve the balancing of multiple projects, such as organizing old newspaper clippings on theatrical performances, or cataloguing photographs and properly storing them in the collection.
She has learned a lot from working at HMSC, both in specific information about the artifacts on display, and in how to best serve the wide variety of visitors that visit the museums each day. She has also been able to develop professional relationships with museum staff, her employer, and professors that work in the museums, including her thesis advisor.
An important moment for her at the Semitic Museum was learning about the process of replicating stone monuments. This was particularly impactful for her because she was able to see how passionate and focused students and museum staff were, taking their time in ensuring that every detail in the relief sculptures was perfect.
Her favorite part of being a Visitor Services Attendant is when people come to her with a question and show genuine curiosity, and she is able to help them, or when people ask her what her favorite thing in the museum is, and she is able to teach them something new.
In addition to her employment at HMSC and Houghton Library, she is also a supervisor at the Harvard College Climbing Wall and is a pastry chef for Lowell Tea.