A few weeks ago, a program about dressing for political events kicked off the “On the Steps of History: Florida’s Inaugurations” exhibit at the Florida Historic Capitol Museum. Museum director, Tiffany Baker, remarks on how the program sparked a lively debate among her staff as to how they would go about dressing for their own inaugurations.
While Baker would opt for a bedazzled ball gown, she was excited to see how exchanges like these could further connect visitors with museum content.
“A funny or silly conversation can be just as impactful or important as a serious one because then you feel connected to it,” says Baker. “You see the possibility that maybe someday you will participate in this process and that you can see yourself there.”
As a child, Baker could clearly envision herself seated in the Oval Office. She had aims of becoming a lawyer and president, and was fully supported by her mother who already had “china picked out for the dining rooms and flowers for the Rose Garden.” However, during Baker’s freshman year of college at American University she discovered she was far more interested in researching political history than its resulting legislature. Baker volunteered at a local historical society, cementing her career path as a historian. She visited numerous historical sites while living in the nation’s capital, and after graduation decided to pursue her master’s degree at Florida State University.
Baker’s historical interests follow her every curiosity from her undergraduate research in children’s fantasy fiction of post-war Britain to her graduate thesis on Florida’s 1985 state license plate contest.
“I find almost anything with a story compelling and I always want to know ‘why,’” says Baker. “Recently we put an [1890s] toilet from the historic capitol bathrooms on display and people walked into the exhibit room and immediately went to it. The history of the everyday is so interesting.”
While everyday objects pique Baker’s interests, she is grateful for the preservation of monumental spaces like the Florida Historic Capitol Museum. She is honored that the Florida legislature will re-appoint her for the eighth year to the director position, and continually focuses on bringing the museum’s blend of history, preservation and politics to the Tallahassee community.
Baker’s schedule is filled with managerial and budgetary duties, however she also shares responsibilities in everything from installing exhibits to carrying out the garbage at the end of the night. She takes the most pleasure in connecting with the public via small group tours. To prepare for these events, she will study her content so that she can deliver the history in a conversational manner. She’s also gotten in the habit of carrying a binder to jot down questions.
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