Jeremy Bucher from the
National Hellenic Museum
Jeremy Bucher, Collections and Archives Manager, National Hellenic Museum
This eighth installment of CCC's Member Spotlight series features an interview with the National Hellenic Museum Collections & Archives Manager Jeremy Bucher.
Tell us about yourself and your role at the Hellenic Museum.
I I am the Collections & Archives Manager at the National Hellenic Museum, managing the artifact collection, archival collections, and oral history program. I started as an intern in the museum’s Collections department in the spring of 2017 while earning my M.A. in History from Loyola University Chicago and have remained at the museum ever since. I handle the donation, registration, cataloging, and storing of our artifacts, as well as digitization. One of my goals when I started at the museum was to open our collections to a wider audience, and through various efforts we have seen a large increase in research requests and visitors asking to view our collections items.
· How did you become involved in the work of Chicago Collections?
We decided to join Chicago Collections several years ago when we were receiving a lot of feedback from our community indicating that they wanted to see our collections online. By including some of our Chicago-based materials in EXPLORE, we were able to provide an introduction to what an online collection would look like to our community, and our collection is now available online with our new CMS at the museum. Also, we participated in the Stories of Im/Migration: Chicago project with the Chicago Cultural Alliance and Chicago Collections. This project helped us recognize the many similarities between our collection and those of other small cultural institutions in Chicago and influenced concepts for collaborative opportunities. EXPLORE has provided yet another access point for our collections to visitors who may not know our institution.
· What are some of the interesting things your institution has on EXPLORE?
Some of the most interesting things we have uploaded to EXPLORE revolve around the Aragon Ballroom. Not many people know that the ballroom was founded by a Greek American, and some of the personal items that were recently donated to our collection seemed like an excellent choice for EXPLORE as they help spread that story to a larger audience. We started with a cartoon about the founder, Andrew Karzas, and intend to upload more items related to that story in the future. We have also uploaded materials related to the many Greek American organizations that sprung up around Chicago to cater to the various Greek populations who immigrated to the city. These organizations were so important to creating a sense of belonging for Greeks in a new country, and we felt it was essential to highlight that history for people unfamiliar with the community’s history.
· What have you liked about EXPLORE?
EXPLORE provides another avenue for access to our collection. Visitors may not be familiar with the National Hellenic Museum and EXPLORE offers an opportunity for new audiences to interact with our collection. It’s also a space for visitors to view multiple collections and see the similarities between different ethnic communities in the city. I can think of no better resource for researchers conducting comparative studies in a variety of fields to come up with ideas and search for materials that may be beneficial to their work. Having so many related collections available in one place is such a valuable resource. I am also a member of the advisory group currently working to update the vocabulary options for tagging in EXPLORE. The group is working on solutions to make searching the portal much easier for researchers and having frontend users, such as myself, involved in the process illustrates how important it is for Chicago Collections to put the communities it serves first.
· What is the best part of your job?
I am not a Greek American, so the best part of my job is learning something new about the community every day. I have been welcomed with open arms by the Greek American community, and their willingness to share knowledge and support the collection at the museum is so important to contextualizing and maintaining the amazing artifacts we have. Also, being in the heart of Greektown, I have all the best Greek food in the city just a short walk from the museum’s front door.
· What do you like to do in your free time?
The best thing about Chicago is that there’s always something to do! I ride a bicycle as my main mode of transportation, so I get to explore this amazing city even on my commute to work. There are so many ethnic and cultural museums throughout the city hosting events celebrating their history, and I like to go to as many as I can. Chicago’s local music scene is also incredible, so I like to visit all the great venues near where I live in Logan Square and catch whoever’s playing. Chicagoans are so creative and always find ways to share something about the city. I love walking tours, and Brick of Chicago offers a variety of tours focused on Chicago’s brick architecture, which I cannot recommend enough.