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Metelko takes over at Mid-America Air Museum PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 28 August 2017 07:40


• Leader & Times

The abrupt departure of Laureano Mier as the director of the Mid-America Air Museum left a hole in that position for several weeks and recently, the position was filled with longtime museum designer Scott Metelko, who expressed excitement about joining the City of Liberal.

As Metelko tells it, however, his path to the position was not a standard one. 

“My education is in music and theater, and after I left grad school, I became interested in museums. I had worked with facilities in the Southeast U.S. for years,” Metelko said. “We’ve done everything from history museums to science centers, art museums, just all different types. It worked with a lot of different personalities and directors, and when it became time for me to shift my career a little bit, that’s when I knew that was the type of work I wanted to do.”

And in working with museums, Metelko said that was just his natural curiosity. 

“When I started my company, we did a lot of work with theme parks, a lot of entertainment-related construction, and as we started getting into museums, for me personally, that was where my interests really lay,” Metelko said. “For me, museums are about storytelling, and that’s where a lot of my background is – I had worked a lot with engaging audiences through theater and lectures and all types of different mediums, so when I got to working on museums, it was that type of storytelling that allowed me to go into more depth of a subject I hadn’t been able to before, and it was just very engaging for me to do that.”

And as for is his interest in aviation?

“That’s actually an interesting question, because I don’t really have a definite answer, it’s always been a bit of a passion of mine,” Metelko said with a chuckle. “I grew up relatively close to an air force base in Pasadena, Texas, which is the base NASA uses, it was just down the road. So I was always the one who looked up every time I heard a sound I hadn’t heard before, and I continued that through my life. I became a pilot in my 20s and continued with that, it’s been a lifelong passion of mine.”

One of Metelko’s favorite aspects of working in museums, he said, is helping to tell stories to patrons. 

“It’s the learning and that depth of information I get to go into. For example, we did a train museum several years ago, and I knew relatively little about trains. So through the process of building and installing the exhibits and writing all the copy and things like that, I learned a lot about trains, way more than I thought I would,” Metelko said. “And that, for me, is my favorite part of it. With my company, the nice part was projects would last anywhere from six months to four or five or six years depending on our level of involvement, so the great thing was I could go in, I could learn, I could shape and tell stories in that environment, and then I would move on to the next project.”

Metelko said his goals for the museum are relatively simple.

“The main thing that drew me to this museum was the quality of the collection of aircraft  there at the museum,” Metelko said. “There are very few museums who have such a collection, and that’s what drew me. A lot of the aircraft I have some knowledge of, some of them are new to me, and I look forward to learning more about how those aircraft fit into the narrative of the museum. The first thing I’m going to start with the museum is just a lot of listening. Any time there’s a change in leadership at a museum, it’s a good time to revisit the mission of the museum and clarify what it’s about and get involvement from leaders in the community and the city leaders and the foundation and everyone else to find out what are the needs of the community, and what are some ways we can address those needs as an institution.”

Metelko will begin his directorship at the museum Monday, and he said he cannot wait to work with the community. 

“With the work I previously did, we were kind of hired guns, so we would come in, do our work, and then move on to the next project,” Metelko said. “What I didn’t get to do when I did that type of work was build a community around a museum, so that’s what I’m most looking forward to is finding out how we can expand the audience for the museum and get more people involved with what’s going on out there. There’s an event planned for Sept. 23, which is a free night at the museum where we’re going to invite everyone in the community and spend some time there. We’ve got a lot of activities planned for that, and it’s an opportunity for me to start introducing myself to the community and to meet more people in that environment, so I’m really excited about it.”




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