“The Grove Museum is a State of Florida museum, so we belong to the people of Florida,” says The Grove’s program coordinator Patricia Singletary. “We are here to serve you. I think the most powerful thing museums can do in the modern world is truly engage their community and represent the histories of this area.”
Singletary’s enthusiasm for history comes through in her voice as she speaks on the subject. She was an intern at The Grove in 2018 where she focused on women’s history and created a tour packet for school groups. That spring, Singletary fell in love with the museum’s civil rights focus, and was hired as museum educator before being promoted to her current role.
The museum’s Handmade History program skillfully weaves Singletary’s passions for crafts and women’s histories together while providing a space for conversation in the community. Singletary says craft nights around the office sparked the idea in conjunction with a successful women’s history tour. Given the community’s interests, she wanted to create a program for adults that would allow for roundtable discussion with the help of facilitators.
Since Handmade History started in February, it has been met with overwhelmingly positive responses. The upcoming event on Nov. 6 will focus on women in the arts and feature FAMU Visiting Assistant Professor of English, Dr. Yolanda J. Franklin, COCA’s Executive Director Kathleen Spehar and Director of the Foster-Tanner Fine Arts Gallery at FAMU, Aja Roache as roundtable discussion facilitators.
“We try to keep the crafts simple because the conversation is the most important part of the event,” says Singletary. “It is up to the participants what direction they want their craft to go and what direction they want the conversation to go.”
Singletary graduated from Florida State University with a double major in history and women’s studies. History is in her blood as Singletary follows in her father’s footsteps. While he worked at the Museum of Florida History, a young Singletary had free range of the museum’s exhibits. She spent summers at the Knott House, volunteered as a living interpreter at Mission San Luis, worked in many museum gift shops, and interned with the Florida Historic Capitol Museum.
The summer before she started full-time at The Grove Museum, Singletary took an internship at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. As a public programs intern, she gave tours on baseball history, but was surprised by the lack of a tour that included women, especially given the museum’s history of women in baseball exhibit. So, she took it upon herself to write one.
“I went through the entire museum and made space for women in each of the exhibits where there was no mention of them,” says Singletary, who strives for inclusivity and included the contributions of black and Hispanic female baseball players. “I’ve always been very interested in gender studies and women’s roles in history because that is talked about less, and I always look at things from an intersectional perspective.”
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