Jane Hennedy, Natick Historical Society Executive Director
Kate Herron, Curator: You must be busy getting acquainted with everything here at the museum. Thank you for taking the time out to answer some questions for our members, visitors, and the Natick community. We’re happy to be able to welcome you here!
Jane Hennedy, Executive Director: Thank you for providing such a warm welcome!
KH: My pleasure! Perhaps we can start with what first brought you to museums? When did you decide you wanted to work in museums and what inspired you to do so?
JH: Museums are in my blood, I guess! My parents often brought us to visit museums and even take classes in museums, so I knew from childhood how they could improve my outlook on life. I grew up across the street from the first museum where I volunteered as a teen, the Gen. James Mitchell Varnum House in East Greenwich, RI. Later, at Providence College, an art history professor helped me to see that my interests in history, architecture, design, literature and art could all be satisfied by continuing my education in historic preservation and museum studies.
KH: What brings you to the Natick Historical Society?
JH: I had worked previously at museums on College Hill in Providence and most recently at the Old Colony Historical Society in Taunton. I am very proud of what I was able to do in Taunton, and after twelve years it was time for a new challenge. I was impressed by the beautiful setting of South Natick, the architecture here, and the collections in this fine historical society.
KH: I have found it to be a gorgeous setting too with such a rich history. Is there a certain period of history, person, or place that has special meaning for you?
JH: I have many favorites in history, but perhaps the past comes alive the most for me when many different elements come together—for example, visiting Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox, MA, having enjoyed her novels and learned about her interior design philosophy, and then attending a play in her parlor based on one of her short stories. History is best when it speaks to people, and there are so many ways to do that today.
KH: I couldn't agree more! What are you most looking forward to here at the Natick Historical Society in your role as the Executive Director?
JH: Learning a whole new chapter of history and meeting lots of new people. I hope that I can be helpful in creating a good balance in the workplace and connecting lots more people with Natick’s unique history.
KH: Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and your background?
JH: I live in Blackstone, Mass. with my husband, Pete, and a new kitten. I met Pete when we both worked at a preservation architectural firm in Providence, RI while I was a grad student in American Studies & Historic Preservation at Boston University. We have a large, loving family—15 nieces and nephews! Other than the jobs I already mentioned, I also worked for a literacy center in Providence and have volunteered for Mass Audubon, Worcester Historical Museum, Daniels Farmstead Foundation in Blackstone and the Blackstone Cultural Council. I’m also an historic preservation consultant, and conduct paint analysis on historic buildings to make recommendations about appropriate color schemes. Most recently, I’ve been privileged to work on the Slater Mill in Pawtucket, RI. Not surprisingly, one of my favorite hobbies is visiting as many museums as possible.
KH: Thanks again so much Jane, it's great to learn more about your extensive experience and passion for the fields of museums, history, and preservation! For myself and on behalf of the Natick Historical Society as well as the town of Natick, we're glad to have you joining the Natick Historical society and are looking forward to this exciting new chapter!