While other students his age are hoping to find an internship, Brian Failing ’14 is hoping to find interns. As museum curator of the Museums at Lisle Station Park in Lisle, IL, Failing’s priorities involve scheduling tours, recruiting volunteers, planning programs and finding interns who could help with an inventory of artifacts and improving display cases and signage.
“My goal is to help visitors understand Lisle’s place in Chicago’s history,” he says. Lisle was a stop on the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroad and was also the largest dairy town on the line.
A history major and urban and suburban studies minor, Failing has been curator for two years—since he was in high school. At the encouragement of a neighbor, he began volunteering in 2007, which suited his interest in high school courses in American Studies and World History. When the part-time curator left to have a baby, Failing was offered the job.
During the summer, he works 20 hours a week, leading tours and hosting programs. He organized a Chicago history authors series that won an award of excellence from the Illinois Association of Museums. The program was featured on WGN radio with Rick Kogan.
In the past two years, Failing has been able to add hours during the summer and attendance was up 30 percent last year. The complex consists of the former Lisle Train depot, which was used until the late 1970s; the Beaubien Tavern, moved from Plank Road in Naperville; a restored Chicago Burlington & Quincy caboose; and other historic buildings moved from the area.
In fact, Failing has found an internship of his own for spring term, which he’ll balance with his museum duties. While participating in Chicago Term, he will work for Chicago Detours, which provides walking tours of Chicago history and culture.
North Central NOW Winter 2012