We spoke with Emmy Mozdzen, Associate Buyer at The Jewish Museum in New York. We found out what it’s really like to work inside of a Museum, how to give a truly special gift, and the path that lead her to find work she absolutely loves!
Is working in a museum magical? We like to believe it is!
Like any workplace, mine has its ups and downs. Some days I walk to work and think, “Wow, how lucky am I to work in a place that is steeped decades of history?” The Jewish Museum is in the Warburg Mansion, although it can be hard to tell from the inside that it was anyone’s house. The lobby and gift shop still have the original ceilings and there are some original woodwork and stained glass on the second floor. Other days, I just want to get away from my desk!
Having worked in various museums over the years, what do you think is most unique and important about The Jewish Museum?
I was thinking about all of the museums I’ve had the pleasure to work in the other day (the Jewish Museum is my 7th!) and what I love about it is the community here. I’ve worked in large institutions (the Met here in NYC and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London) and while those places are incredible, you can feel a little lost in the shuffle. Working in a smaller museum means I get to work with and interact with someone in almost all of the departments fairly frequently. I’ve also felt so welcomed here as someone who is not Jewish. I love learning about new cultures and religions and the Jewish Museum has been an amazing learning opportunity!
Does your education matter for your career? Is your schooling applicable?
I have a Master’s degree in Arts Journalism from Syracuse University, so while I’m not “technically” using that degree, I would not be here if it weren’t for that experience, and also my undergrad degree. I sort of fell into this position almost 10 years ago, and thankfully my boss here has been an extraordinary teacher and taught me what I know in this job. I think having college degrees are so important, but it’s also being open to and wanting to learn new things. I never thought I would be a buyer in a gift shop, but I absolutely love it!
As the Associate Buyer, how do you discover and select which products to offer in your shop?
Oh, this is my favorite part of my job! Gift Shows in NYC are a great way to see new vendors and artists and also connect with people we’ve worked with in the past. NY Now and Shoppe Object are two of the big ones for us. I’ve also honed my web searching skills over the years, and have found some artists from Israel and various other countries (and states) on Etsy. I’ve also spotted products in magazines or web sites that I thought would be good fits for us. Other times, people will come to us, either by email or word of mouth. Browse her finds in the Shop here.
We’re so grateful to have had Orb Candles in your shop over the years (wow- since 2012!). Why do you feel they resonate with your visitors?
Wow is right! I think it’s really the whole package (pun intended!). The set of candles, the material used, and the lovely packaging make a great gift on its own or when paired with a pair of candlesticks. You can see the effort put into these, and I think people appreciate when items are not machine manufactured.
What was the last gift you gave someone?
The last gift, well gifts, I gave were holiday presents for my friends and family. One of them was a framed map of Croatia for two of my friends who had traveled there on their honeymoon last year. It’s so hard to find gifts that resonate with people but are also things they might not buy themselves. I love to find treasures, as one of my friends calls them, that will mean something and aren’t just “things” that will be tossed in a closet and forgotten about in a week.
What does community mean to you?
Ha! See my answer to question 2! I think to me it means a group of people who are working together, or live near each other, and also care about one another. I try very hard to be a team player (as cliché as that sounds), because it really does take everyone working together to get through a project, or more recently the crazy Hanukkah rush in the shop. Having people you care about and also work with is not something you find everywhere, and I love that the Jewish Museum feels like a family and a community and not just where I go to work every day.
Can anyone visit the Jewish Museum?
Yes! Please come visit, we’re always having great exhibitions. The museum is located on 5th Avenue in New York City on what is known as “Museum Mile”: The Met, Guggenheim, Cooper-Hewitt, the Jewish Museum, Museum of the City of New York, and El Museo del Barrio make up this stretch of museums on the Upper East Side. We’re open almost every day (the museum is open on Saturdays, but the shop is closed, and the shop is open on Wednesdays, but the museum is closed), so please stop by and say hi!