Meet Laura Cagaoan, Visitor Services Manager 

By Meghan E. Gattignolo 

Laura Cagaoan is a lifetime resident of Clarksville, TN. She holds a master’s degree in education and is a hardworking mother of three. Laura is a quick study and is great at learning new skills in order to create new opportunities for herself and those around her. If Laura had to pick one thing she excelled at, though, it would be talking to people. With her particularly warm and charismatic mixture of empathy and enthusiasm, people naturally gravitate to Laura.  

After working in the education field for several years, Laura made a big career shift in 2017 when she applied for a job at the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center. She saw the Museum as a refreshing change of pace, while still keeping one foot in the education world. For the last six years, Laura has served as a friendly face that’s made for a positive visit to the Museum for many people.  

Changing Roles 

If you’ve visited the Museum or shopped in Seasons: The Museum Store, you may have had the chance to get to know Laura as the store’s manager. While she still manages the store, last year saw the scope of Laura’s job change significantly. The Museum is always growing and changing, which can make for interesting opportunities. Due to some restructuring of roles, Laura’s title is now Visitor Services Manager. 

Shaping the Visitor Experience 

In her role as Visitor Services Manager, Laura has a hand in shaping the experiences guests enjoy when they walk through the front doors. More than anything, Laura hopes visitors “feel welcome, enjoy their time and leave with a smile on their face. I also want them to come out of their visit having learned something of value, either about art, history or science.”   

What could compliment a great visit to the Museum better than a token or souvenir to take with you before you leave? That’s where Laura does her best to add value to a Museum visit. “If the artist from an exhibit has something they sell, we try our best to get it in the store during the exhibit.” So, if a visitor likes the work of a particular artist, thanks to Laura, they can often get something from that artist inside the Museum store.  

Laura is always thinking about how the visitor experience can be improved. To that end, she often collaborates with her friendly Visitor Services staff, particularly Lead Visitor Services Associate Kim Raines. Laura has relied on Kim’s ideas, talents and friendly demeanor to help improve the store for many years now, and Kim continues that culture of positivity now as a lead member of staff in the Visitor Services department. Streamlining the experience to make a visit flow more smoothly is also something that Laura is looking into, and you may look forward to some big changes at the Museum in the not-too-distant future.  

Noel Night  

As the premiere annual event for Seasons: The Museum Store, Laura gets excited every year as she plans and preps for the first Thursday night in December. Noel Night has become the cornerstone tradition of the Museum’s winter season. While all the Museum galleries are free to peruse during the event, Noel Night is actually all about the store. Shopping inside Seasons is a big part of why people attend, enjoying discounts and other incentives. This year, the store will offer 15% off all purchases during the event, and spending $100 will get you a free ornament.  This year’s Customs House Museum Christmas ornament is designed by local artist Sarah Spillers.  

Noel Night also features snacks, crafts and music, while offering more vendors to shop from than any previous year. Laura wants visitors to “enjoy shopping for their friends and loved ones for Christmas, while also supporting the Museum.” Warm feelings all around. 

Visitor Services Manager Laura Cagaoan is one of the easiest museum staff members to get to know. Next time you come to the Museum, don’t forget to thank Laura and her hardworking crew for helping to make the visitor experience a great one! 

 Meghan E. Gattignolo is a freelance writer and longtime Clarksville, TN resident. She loves to obsess about historical subjects and annoy her family daily with unsolicited random facts. Meghan holds a History B.A. from Austin Peay State University and lives in town with her husband and two daughters. 

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