Meet the Board: Alexandra Nicholis Coon

Please start with small intro paragraph about where you work and what you do there.


Alexandra Nicholis Coon, Executive Director of the Massillon Museum and OMA Board Vice President

I work as the Executive Director of the Massillon Museum in downtown Massillon, Ohio. I am in charge of the day-to-day operations of the museum, but thrive on the fact that, as a smaller institution, I have the opportunity to work on a number of projects.

 

What is your earliest museum memory (Perhaps an institution you visited as a child)?

My earliest museum memory is, I think, a fourth grade field trip to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History to view the animatronic dinosaur exhibit. It was fascinating to me.

 

What led you to go into the museum field?

I have always loved art, from as long as I can remember. And my parents encouraged my exploration of different art activities, both within the confines of academia and extracurricular. From entering art contests in grade school, painting storefront windows in middle school, and participating in AP art and Art Explorers in high school, I always imagined myself working in an art museum setting. My family traveled to Greece when I was 14, and I had the chance to visit some incredible museums, view the Beehive tomb, walk ruins and tour the Parthenon. My senior year in high school I traveled to England, visiting historic sites and museums, and in college toured the museums of London and France. All of these experiences led to my selecting a major in Art History, and pursuing a number of volunteer opportunities and internships in museums and galleries.

 

What is your workspace like?

My office has been described as colorful, eclectic, and organized chaos. While I do have working piles and a method that allows me to find things easily, I always make sure to have cleared places for people to sit! I have an open-door policy as well; so it's not at all uncommon to have staff walking in and out throughout the day, which is when most of our greatest brainstorming moments are born!

 

What item in your office can you not live without?

Laptop! Although I did forget it at home last week, and managed to function just fine - thank goodness for email access via cell phone!

 

Describe your favorite work memory. What was your best day like?

I have many fond work memories, and am grateful that I recall much of what my team and I do with happiness and pride. However, one of my most jubilant memories to date was the evening we passed the last Museum levy; it was November of 2008, and my colleagues and I spent the better part of the night at the Eagles in downtown Massillon, watching the polls and, subsequently, celebrating! There are, I have no doubt, many favorite memories ahead for me at MassMu!

 

What does your dream museum look like?

One where everyone exudes a positive attitude and thrives on collaboration and both embraces and challenges tradition.

 

What is the best advice you have ever received?

Never send an email while you're angry.

 

What are you currently reading?

Just Kids by Patti Smith. And I'm about to begin In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, the Massillon Museum's Big Read book selection for 2016! I just finished reading my brother's latest screenplay, and a portion of my employee's masters thesis.

 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I am incredibly fortunate to work in an atmosphere of mutual respect, teamwork, positivity, and inspiration. I am consistently impressed with the level of talent, and dedication, of my employees. All staff understand that the job descriptions assigned to them don't prohibit them from helping colleagues complete tasks. Everyone is supportive of one another, and helps his or her colleagues be successful. One of my colleagues said recently that, when we hire new staff, we hire the whole person, not just one aspect of that person, meaning that we are grateful for all the diverse talents and interests of each staff member, and we utilize these whenever possible to make the Museum as strong and interesting as possible.