Park Profiles: Meet Alyssa Thompson!

Kristen MihalkoBalboa Park Cultural Partnership, One Park - One Team, Park Profiles, Uncategorized

Alyssa is the Museum Operations Manager at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum and a relatively new addition to the Balboa Park team. As a masters student at the University of San Diego, Alyssa is able to apply the concepts she is learning along with a different and fresh perspective to her role at the museum.

1. How did you first get involved with the San Diego Model Railroad Museum?
I did my undergraduate degree in Visual and Public Arts with a concentration in Museum Studies at Cal State Monterey Bay, and during my time there had multiple internship opportunities in different museums. After graduating, I moved to San Diego and worked in multiple nonprofits, but missed the work I was doing in museums and wanted more administrative experience. I began the MA in Nonprofit Leadership at USD and soon after was lucky enough to find a job opening as the Operations Manager here at the Model Railroad Museum.

2. What do you like most about working at the Model Railroad Museum?
I like that I can apply the concepts I have been learning in my classes to the work that I’m doing here. Anthony Ridenhour, the Executive Director, has been awesome about asking for my perspective in planning for the museum, and in helping me have balance between classes and work. I also love my co-workers! Everyone has strong personalities but a great sense of humor, so we work really well together and have a great dynamic.

3. As the Museum Operations Manager, what advice do you have for encountering difficult situations or challenges?
Separating yourself from something challenging for a little while and revisiting it at a later time is great advice to think over something before acting impulsively on a difficult situation. I also think having patience is extremely beneficial.

4. What has been the most interesting or gratifying experience you have had working with the museum?
As I mentioned earlier, having the ability to apply what I am learning in my masters program to the real world has been a great experience to have at the museum. Also just working in a museum in Balboa Park has been a gratifying experience because if you need a break or going on lunch, you can walk around and really be outdoors in a beautiful space.

5. Tell me about the new exhibit at the museum Shake Rattle Roll!
The exhibit takes two different worlds- the graffiti arts culture and model railroading- and brings them together to show that they are more similar than one would think! We have been lucky to work with lots of great people on this exhibit, including a group of model railroaders who actually replicate graffiti freight trains and a local graffiti artist who has created graffiti art for the exhibit. The exhibit was designed to allow guests to think about the different perspectives when it comes to graffiti and the discussion of when is graffiti ‘good or bad’.

6. What do you like to do outside of Balboa Park?
I haven’t had a lot of time off recently with work and classes, but I love to travel and try to do so as much as possible. I like to do short weekend trips and have recently visited Austin and Portland, and will be going to the state of Washington soon. I also enjoy going out with friends to concerts or game nights.

7. Favorite song, TV show, movie, book?
I don’t have a favorite song, but my current favorite band is Sly and the Family Stone. My favorite TV show is Star Trek: Next Generation, and can watch it over and over again. My favorite movie is American Beauty, and my current favorite book is The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

8. If you could have any other job for one day, what would it be and why?
I’m not sure if this is an actual job or what the title would be, but being the person who names racehorses would be an amazing job. All the horses have such weird and interesting names, there has to be someone deciding which names work and which don’t!

9. What is your favorite spot in Balboa Park?
My favorite spot is the Tea Pavilion at the Japanese Friendship Garden. I love the tea and food there, and love to look out into the garden from up top. I also really like the Zoro Garden.