Kristina Hampton ’05, Manager of Collections and Special Projects at the Saint Louis Science Center, is a graduate of Maryville University’s History program. She hops between the public-facing Science Center museum St. Louisans have come to know and love and an off-site storage facility which houses the 99% of SLSC holdings not on current display. When one walks into this temperature and humidity-controlled storage facility, behind keycard access and not open to the public, it quickly becomes clear: Hampton is putting her Maryville history degree to incredible use.
“I take care of the Science’s Center’s vast collection of artifacts and specimens, and I help to build exhibits and put artifacts out on the floor for visitors to enjoy,” says Hampton. When she describes the holdings as a vast collection, she means it. The facility is a breathtaking treasure trove. There are shelves upon shelves of taxidermy, including a 10-ft tall Alaskan bear and a perfectly preserved passenger pigeon which went extinct in the early 1900s. There are countless drawers with arrow heads and samurai swords and chainmail armor. There are antique dentist chairs and old video game systems and you name it, they probably have it.
Maryville interns have been assisting SLSC staff with the cataloging and maintenance of the collection. “They’re assisting me with prepping items for display, and they’re researching what we have in our holdings. Having them here is important to me. I want to give back to the university that started my career and help inspire them to potentially pursue a career in history.”
Hampton credits her time at Maryville for preparing her for her work at the Science Center. “I was able to learn so much about different periods in history and find out what inspired me. That helped me figure out which direction to go. I was able to pursue a masters in history and I then entered a museum studies program, which allowed me to combine my love of history and museums.”
One of the highlights of Hampton’s recent work is the Science Center’s “Becoming Jane” exhibit from National Geographic, which highlights Dr. Jane Goodall’s life and work with the chimpanzees in the Gombe National Forest in Tanzania. “It was an honor to host Dr. Goodall at the Science Center. She’s such an inspiration. You can tell she has a love and passion for what she does.”
Watch the video below to hear more about Kristina’s amazing work, and visit our Maryville history program page to learn more about majoring in history at Maryville University.