Alumnus Named Director of History Center
Philip Mohr, ‘10, was named Executive Director of the Des Plaines History Center in Des Plaines, Ill., in May 2018. Mohr says he found his professional purpose in museum administration while interning at the National Churchill Museum.
“I came to Westminster knowing I wanted to work in museums,” he says. “I got my foot in the door at the National Churchill Museum, and that set me up very well for my career goal of turning around struggling small- and mid-sized museums.”
Originally from Maryland Heights, Mo., Mohr majored in History with a minor in Music with an emphasis on Piano Performance at Westminster and then went on to sharpen his knowledge of history by receiving an MA in American History in 2013 and an MA in Historical Administration in 2012 from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill. Before his appointment as Executive Director, Mohr previously served at the Des Plaines History Center as both Senior Curator and Acting Director.
Mohr briefly spent a few minutes chatting about his professional life and how he found his purpose at Westminster:
Describe your current work.
As Director, I set the tone for the institution as a whole. I must have a vision and a plan as well as the gumption to roll up my sleeves to do things like paint the porch with my volunteers. I also support the work of the curators under my supervision.
How did your liberal arts degree help you uncover your passions that you’ve carried over into your career?
I had the opportunity to take so many classes outside of my major and minor. When researching and presenting history to public audiences, I can draw on what I learned there in order to form interpretations that are meaningful to all kinds of people.
What is the one book you think everyone should read?
Race and Reunion by David W. Blight, which is not a light read, but it is an important view on the memory of the Civil War and the racial schism that we still experience today. It’s the book that made me realize what a true historian does.
What is your fondest Westminster memory?
One of my favorite memories is performing a recital of music by Philip Glass in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury.
What was your favorite place on the Westminster campus or in Fulton?
My favorite place was the Stinson Creek Trail.
When you’re not at work, what do you do in your free time?
Read, ride my bike to cafes around Chicago, have relaxing picnics at the beach, and Play “Pokemon Go.”
Ultimately, how did Westminster help you find your purpose?
Westminster provided me the chances to learn in and out of the classroom. My work as president of History Club and my internship at the Churchill Museum gave me hands-on experience that set me up for handling life situations. Life is about your ability to cope and improvise, and at Westminster, I could succeed and, potentially, fail, all within the context of a supportive environment.