It’s tempting to assume that the United States Golf Association Museum and Library in Liberty Corner, New Jersey, appeals to a niche audience of golf enthusiasts. But according to Rosemary Maravetz, the museum’s curator of collections, the best tours are filled with non-fans. “People may start the tour saying they’re not interested in golf and this museum isn’t for them,” she says. “But by the end of the tour, they’ve found something they connected to. It can come as a surprise the crossover golf has with many aspects of history.”
This experience isn’t foreign to Maravetz NCAS’99, who herself has never had an interest in stepping on a green. What unites her with the sport, instead, is something completely different. “Golfers tend to be passionate about history, and I’m someone who really loves history and cultural history, in particular,” she says. In her professional life, this has translated to a fascination with the everyday utilitarian and cultural objects that were never meant to last forever but, if carefully preserved, can create a vivid snapshot of history.
So, while golf aficionados are often mesmerized by the museum’s Hall of Champions, which houses all the USGA trophies and showcases every champion and championship to date, Maravetz finds herself particularly moved by the stories of human accomplishment and the human condition unveiled in the museum’s artifacts. “Our galleries tell the story of golf in America from the late 19th century to today, through the lens of American history,” she says. “And many of our objects transcend the game of golf.”
These include well-known golf-related items from movies and pop culture, as well as historical artifacts like the golf club Alan Shepard famously took to the moon, and a golf bag and clubs owned by Amelia Earhart. “To be the person in charge of making sure objects like these are preserved for generations is very humbling,” Maravetz says. “I’m keenly aware that the decisions I make for objects today while I’m at the USGA will affect their chances of being around for generations to come long after I’m gone.”
While majoring in art at Rutgers, Maravetz worked in the Paul Robeson Gallery at Rutgers University–Newark, where she immersed herself in the gallery experience and got her first taste of what it was like to present art to the public. After a stint at an art magazine in New York City, Maravetz expected to transition into the gallery world. Instead, she discovered a love for preservation while working at the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey, where she helped manage an extensive collection as well as a range of American and Native American artifacts. “I found myself less drawn to the commercialization of the gallery world,” she says. “I’m much more interested in a nonprofit role where I’m in service to the public and can address the challenges inherent in preserving historical objects for years to come.”
And while she likes to say she’s not a golfer “yet,” Maravetz prizes the relationship she has with the game’s artifacts right now: one that safeguards their value for future generations of golfers and golfers-to-be.