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User Spotlight: Jaime Fawcett, Poe Museum

Get to know Jaime Fawcett, Executive Director of the Poe Museum.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My first love is applied anthropology, and I began working for museums and historic preservation sites at an early age. As a kid, I accompanied my parents on their own nonprofit adventures. My father is a historic forensic architect and preservationist, and my mother is an educator who has dedicated her life to working with political refugees seeking security in the United States. With these role models before me, choosing a career in nonprofits was an easy choice!

After my graduate work at University College London, I fell into nonprofit consulting work, and have had the pleasure of working in a variety of nonprofit institutions including Chiddingstone Castle in Kent, England, the Museum of the Aleutians in Unalaska, AK, and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in Anchorage, AK. Consultant work gave me the opportunity to see the nonprofit world from a fresh perspective. This has really helped me as I have gotten to know the Poe Museum and become a new member of the Richmond community.  

What do you find most rewarding about your work?

The Poe Museum has a rich history and great ties to the community.  We are dedicated to sharing Edgar Allan Poe?s complete story with our guests.  We do this through exhibitions, tours, and public programming.  Interestingly, the most rewarding part of my work is also the most challenging.  

Poe is easily one of the most recognizable authors in the literary world. As an iconic individual, admirers feel they know Poe. What we find, however, is that most visitors are really attracted by Poe?s darkness. Popular culture has portrayed Poe in hues of black, purple, and gray, while images of sinister black cats and dilapidated mansions usually fill the mind?s eye. But as visitors to the Poe Museum soon discover, Poe?s historical figure is far more intricate than Poe?s caricature.

In order to really understand Poe?s genius, you have to appreciate the balance between the ?historical Poe? and ?Poe the legend.” Poe?s real genius is that he was a brave writer.  He explored every human experience and emotion, and he expressed his observations with such resonance that his readers are left emotionally immersed in the story.  Another little known fact is that Poe spent most of childhood in Richmond, and his stories are sometimes autobiographical. 

Tell us about one of your accomplishments in this role. 

The Poe Museum has been focused on becoming a rich classroom resource for teachers and students through collaboration with the Virginia Department of Education. Our mission is to interpret the life and influence of Edgar Allan Poe for the educational enjoyment of a global audience. As an executive director, it is extremely important to me that we uphold this mission.  It is equally important that we continually adjust our education programs to reach as wide an audience as possible, and that we meet the ever-changing needs of our students and patrons. Working with those at the forefront of the education curriculum is a huge accomplishment, and we can only grow from here.

What’s coming next that has you excited? 

New this year is our annual fundraiser, The Author?s Appetite.  This exciting October event is a two-day celebration of Halloween at the Poe Museum with our very special guest Victoria Price, daughter of movie legend Vincent Price.  On Friday we will host trick-or-treaters, a costume contest, and show classic Poe movies starring Vincent Price (popcorn included). 

On Saturday, November 1, we are excited to launch Victoria?s Poe/Price wine, featuring the bottle artwork of local Richmond artist, Abigail Larsen. Victoria will give an author talk about her new book, Vincent Price: A Daughter?s Biography, as well as wine tasting, a silent auction, special tours, and the reopening of the very popular Raven Room permanent exhibit. All ticket sales will go to fund the Museum?s education tours and our Poe to Go outreach program.

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