Following A Passion

Alice Parman discusses her success as a Museum Consultant

Alice Parman in her office.

Approaching a charming blue home nestled behind a tree it is hard to imagine that this family home also acts as an office. Alice Parman runs her museum consulting business.  She opens the door with a welcoming smile.  Inside her humble abode the air is filled with warmth as the furnace burns in the living room.  Parman’s gray cat, Emma, is curled up on a pillow but is quickly awakened and sashays over to meet Parman’s company.  Parman has a calm demeanor as she offers to brew tea before casually starting a conversation.

Parman was born during World War II on Fort Bragg, in North Carolina. However, the Parman family eventually headed East to New Jersey and at one point the family even lived in Singapore for three years.

Spending much of her childhood in New Jersey’s and being in close proximity to New York City the Parman family would often visit the big apple.  As a young girl, Parman recalls the first museum she visited.  She remembers going to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. The experience stayed with her, Parman can still vividly picture one of the exhibits’ to this day.  She describes the exhibit explaining there was a magnified drop of pond water. Parman remembers her younger self thinking, “Oh my god, water has that in it.”

Later on Parman attended the University of Rochester as an undergraduate, where she received a French Literature degree.  In 1962-1963, Parman studied in Paris, France.  Parman explains, “When you immerse yourself in other culture it’s a different way of thinking.” Eventually Parman would receive a Masters in teaching from Harvard University.  With her degree she began teaching high school French.  After some time Parman realized that teaching limited her personal life.  She decided to return to school and study for a Ph.D.

Parman knew she did not want to be a Professor.  With her love for museums still on her mind Parman initially applied for a job at Field Museum in Chicago, IL. The job title was head of the Education Department, however; with a newborn baby girl Parman wanted to focus more on her family and withdrew her application. The person who was hired for the position she initially applied for offered her a job working on a grant to get teachers to effectively utilize the museum. 

A collection of badges Parman has collected from attending conferences.

When the head of the Education Department stepped down, the job went to Parman.  She was the first woman manager and says she, “could not have asked for a better opportunity.”

After working for the Field Museum, Parman was offered a job to be the director of Eugene, OR Natural History Museum and at one point was the WHSTEC Director but, after suffering and surviving a stroke she decided this job was not for her.

She started working for Formations after the owner and founder contacted her after seeing some of her freelance work. In 2003 she decided to leave the company and start her own.  She also has a book published entitled, Exhibit Makeovers. Now, Parman is juggling six different jobs for her company.  When working on an exhibit Parman uses interpretive planning meaning seeing the exhibit through the visitor’s eyes.  She is currently applying to be certified in interpretive planning.

While walking through her office a sense of pride and accomplishment sets over her face as she pulls some of her work. Even with her impressive workload Parman still makes time for the more important things in life.  Around her office are pictures of family and even a painted picture of Norway to remind her of her heritage.  Parman has traveled all over and has years of experience in her field.   Parman continues to live her life following her passions.

One of Parman's projects.

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