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Tabor grad named Goessel Mennonite museum curator

Staff writer

Mennonite Heritage and Agricultural Museum in Goessel recently received a new addition to its staff.

Ben Schmidt, who graduated from Tabor College last month, accepted the position of museum curator and archivist at the Goessel museum, a position that recently was revamped.

“We changed the role a little bit,” museum board president Steve Banman said, “from museum director to someone who can take care of our objects and a variety of things like that.”

Schmidt is filling the shoes of Marjorie Jantzen Shoemaker, who retired after eight years as museum director.

Thanks to a Tabor professor who attended a local Goessel church, the position was brought to the attention of Tabor assistant professor of history Jessica Klanderud, who told Schmidt about the position.

“I looked at it and e-mailed board of directors and it went from there,” Schmidt said.

Banman said Schmidt’s job will concentrate on the interests of museum visitors by “updating the exhibits, digitizing the photo collection, and updating records of the museum’s acquisitions and placements over the years,” which Schmidt says he’s excited for.

“The job encompasses all of my interests,” Schmidt said. “I enjoy research, I enjoy communicating, and that’s something that I will be doing a lot of there.”

Schmidt’s previous experience included working in the Tabor archives with Peggy Goertzen, where his job duties ranged from clipping magazines to transcribing cassettes.

“I transcribed cassette tapes which included sermons, presentations, and Tabor chapels that people recorded,” Schmidt said. “I really enjoyed transcribing because it gave me an insight into the history we were collecting.”

Schmidt’s job at the Tabor archives gave him the experience needed for the position at the Mennonite museum.

One of his projects at the school also included digging deeper into Mennonite history and telling the story of Mennonites who migrated from Russia in 1874.

“One of the big projects was collection of tapes that were translated from German periodicals,” Schmidt said. “I learned a lot.”

Banman said Schmidt has already shown enthusiasm in his position, and they are excited for what’s in store.

“He is a self-motivated person who is an avid student, good at public speaking, courteous, and skilled at doing research,” Banman said. “The board is excited for his enthusiasm and energy displayed in just his first month with the museum.”

Schmidt is equally excited to begin his new position at the museum.

“Seeing the people who are dedicated to [the museum] has really encouraged me to help in any way that I can just to improve in little areas,” Schmidt said. “It’s giving me an opportunity to have a job in my field and I’m excited to be here.”

Last modified Feb. 10, 2016

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