Alumna Digs Up Dream Job at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Have you ever seen a Mona monkey skull? Do you know what a Dunkleosteus terrelli is? Well, thanks to alumna Hailey Majewski you can see 3D images of both of these items and many more through the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Majewski is the digital asset manager at the museum, a role that still surprises her.
“I thought I would be an archaeologist and every six months I'd be going to a new place in the world and always funding my next thing,” Majewski said. “I never expected I'd be this deep into digital at all.”
Majewski, a Cleveland native, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in anthropology with a concentration in archaeology from Kent State.
In her role, Majewski manages and disseminates the museum’s digital assets, coordinates the digitization of the museum’s collections, and oversees 3D model creation and 3D printing for education and outreach programs. That’s where the Mona monkey skull and Dunkleosteus terrelli come in.
“I am essentially responsible for all of the digital assets at the museum and that includes marketing information,” Majewski said. “I am also helping assist the research and collections departments and all of the digitization efforts that are currently going on at the museum.”
Majewski is no stranger to this museum; she spent a lot of her childhood there, and — how’s this for dedication to your field of study — she even got married there.
“I grew up at this museum. So honestly, being able to work here it's kind of a dream come true,” Majewski said. “I am very deeply embedded in the museum culture, and I would like to stay here as long as possible.”
It started in 2015 when Majewski served as a volunteer in the invertebrate zoology department for the digitization of the museum's insects.
“It included taking images of the insect and their labels and then transcribing the label verbatim. Assigning things like locality, collection, date, collector and taxonomy to it. And then uploading all of that online,” Majewski said. “Apparently I did well enough that they decided to bring me on as a funded digitization technician, and I ended up more or less running the project for about four years, then in 2020 I became permanent staff.”
She then began serving more of the research and collections divisions at the museum, of which there are 13 separate departments.
Recently, the museum has submitted two successful grants for a building-wide rehaul and new facilities. Majewski was a co-investigator on the $800,000 grant for the paleo collections.
“That is probably my biggest professional accomplishment,” Majewski said. “I was responsible for the entire digitization strategy involved in that and a lot of the educational content.”
A lot of the digital work that Majewski uses, she’s learned and picked up along the way, but she still holds onto her knowledge from Kent State.
“Even though I’m not directly utilizing that knowledge from my science degree in an archaeological setting, I still use it all the time,” Majewski said. “Knowing about biology and how taxonomy and anatomy works.”
Majewski recalled her time at Kent State and some experiences that helped her on her education journey.
“My capstone experience kind of reinforced my love of science because when I came to college, I originally wanted a history degree,” Majewski said. “Then I took my first anthropology course and realized that it was kind of that bridge between science and history that I really love because I could actually physically prove things happened and existed in a certain place at a certain time.”
Majewski was also thankful for one of her professors, Neil Wells, Ph.D., earth sciences professor, who had a positive impact on her.
“The way that he makes himself available to his students to ask questions and how to learn from them was amazing,” Majewski said
Majewski is thankful for the experiences she’s had at the museum. Her love of this work is clear.
“I spend literally every day learning something new. Being able to see and explore things that are over 100 years old that we have collected over 100 years ago,” Majewski said. “I've been able to interact with the skeleton of a great auk, which went extinct in the 1800s. I just find it really cool.”
See more of the work that Majewski has done at the non-human primate collections and ornithology collections sites of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
Learn more about Kent State’s Department of Anthropology.