Selin Kahramanoglu, who graduated this spring with Master’s degrees in both Information and Museum Studies, has won the inaugural Ontario Museum Association (OMA) and Master of Museum Studies (MMSt) Award for Excellence in Emerging Museum Practice.
This new award was created to reflect the OMA and MMSt’s shared values and commitment to research and leadership in the field and will be given annually to a graduating student. “Emerging Practices” encapsulates issues around climate change and museology, disability/ability, inclusion and diversity, refugee support and resettlement, creative partnerships, digitization and access.
Mary Collier, Professional Development Program Manager with the OMA, says that the award builds on the association’s decades-long relationship with the Museum Studies program, and aims to recognize both academic excellence and extracurricular engagement, as well as encouraging students as they enter the field. “We hope that it helps graduates stay and thrive in the museum community,” she said. “We see this award as part of the OMA’s commitment to support an ‘effective and collaborative workforce’ which is part of Ontario’s Museums 2025: Strategic Vision & Action Plan.”
Kahramanoglu, who completed her Master of Information degree in Archives and Records Management, says she’s glad she chose the Faculty’s Combined Degree Program because it provided her with a well-rounded view of her field. The daughter of immigrants from Turkey, she credits her summers exploring that country’s ancient sites, plus inspiration from her artist mother, for igniting her passion for Museums. Her interest was further piqued while she was an undergrad at UofT completing a BA in History with minors in French and Material Culture and learned about the MMSt program from Associate Professor Irina Mihalache, who both teaches Material Culture and heads up the Museum Studies program.
During her three years at the Faculty of Information, Kahramanoglu co-founded an Eco-Club, ensuring that events were organized with sustainable practices and re-use of materials. “In a spirit of inclusivity, Selin initiated events that highlighted the cultural diversity of our community and brought people together around food and self-reflection,” says Mihalache.
Kahramanoglu also published an academic research paper in the Faculty of Information’s iJournal and presented her research at the 2018 and 2019 iSchool Student Conferences. Among other things, she assisted in preparing exhibitions for the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, the Toronto Ward Museum, and the Hillary House National Historic Site, and was a contributing editor for the Musings Blog. For her final year exhibition project, Portraits of the Land, she co-curated the show and produced an Indigenous Relations Communications strategy for the King Heritage and Cultural Centre.
“I worked pretty hard during my grad degree. It was a lot of hard work and it’s always nice to be recognized,” said Kahramanoglu, who will receive free OMA membership for a year and registration at the annual conference.
Since graduating in June, Kahramanoglu has completed a summer contract with the Aurora Historical Society, working as an assistant curator for the national heritage site Hillary House, where she engaged in rehousing archival collections, planning for upcoming exhibitions, and maintaining the grounds. She hopes to find a job in collections management, preferably in a registrar position working directly with collections. “I want to help protect and bring the stories behind the artifacts to the public,” she said.
– By Suzanne Bowness