By Christopher Collier, guest writer of the MAS
Welcome back to Get to Know Us, a Q/A series giving readers a personal look into the lives and careers of MAS staff members.
Today’s guest is Susan Mays, MAS Director of Programs.
Mays was born in Charleston, South Carolina, but she’s lived in Georgia for more than 40 years. She graduated from Wake Forest University with a history degree in 1976. She then got her master’s degree in American studies at George Washington University.
Mays worked at several noteworthy museums after completing her studies, including the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace in Savannah, Georgia, and the Hay House in Macon, Georgia. Desiring a new challenge, she joined the Museum of Arts and Sciences 13 years ago. Today, she is the museum’s curator of education, facilitating educational programming for all.
Q: Was working in museums always a part of the plan?
A: I knew from the time I was a senior in high school that that's what I wanted to do. I loved history, [and] I knew I didn't want to be a classroom teacher. Through a convention with my dad's work, I met somebody who worked for a company that designed museum exhibits. In conversation with him, I realized that there were jobs in museums. I had never really thought about that, even though I had been to museums all my life. I had just not thought about that as a job possibility. I was one of those people who just—I knew what I wanted to do.
Q: What is your favorite museum memory from your youth?
A: I used to do a lot of public speaking with civic clubs. My opening question to them was: “what's the first museum you can remember going into?” I remember the first museum I went to. I was four or five years old. We lived in Charleston, [and] I went to The Charleston Museum—the old Charleston Museum, which the building is not even there anymore. I remember very clearly that I could look up, and there were whale skeletons hanging from the ceiling in that museum. That is etched in my mind.
Q: Let's talk about life outside of the museum. What is your favorite hobby outside of work?
A: I used to always say that my hobby outside of work was reading, but I'm afraid I’ve not been as diligent a reader as I used to be. I’m a pastor’s wife so church plays a big part in my time outside of work.
Q: What is your all-time favorite restaurant?
A: I love seafood, so I'd have to say a seafood restaurant, but I don't know if I could tell you a single one.
Q: What's your favorite TV show right now?
A: "Foyle's War"—that's my favorite.
Q: What is your all-time favorite movie?
A: I love Tom Hanks. Probably "Cast Away.”
(*This interview has been condensed and edited)