Lili Ott, November 10, 2020 (video)


Lili Ott, November 10, 2020 (video)


Hudson, New York
Cooperstown, New York
Harlem on My Mind
Driving While Black
Minor Wine Thomas Jr.
Dick Slavin
Per Guldbeck
Cooperstown Graduate School
Fenimore Art Museum
The Farmers' Museum
Shaker's Museum
Old Sturbridge Village
State University of New York at Albany
Olana State Historic Site
New York State Historical Association (NYSHA)


Lili Reineck Ott was born on December 25th, 1947 in Hudson, New York. As a child, Lili loved visiting museums with her family. She explained that an experience she had at the Albany Institute when she was just 12 years old inspired her to enter the museum field as an adult. Lili attended high school at St. Mary’s Academy in Hudson. She contracted rheumatic fever her senior year in high school which prevented her from applying to colleges after graduating. After fully recovering, she applied to the State University of New York at Albany where she studied for the duration of her undergraduate career. Lili was guided by wonderful mentors and professors who helped determine her future career path. During her time at the State University of New York at Albany, Lili decided that she wanted to pursue a career in museum studies.

After an interview at the Cooperstown Graduate Program, Lili was impressed by the wide variety of classes that were offered through the program, and by the professors who were dedicated to passing on their knowledge of the field to students. Once Lili was accepted into the program, she immediately found an apartment in town and linked up with classmates. In Cooperstown, Lili describes spending time outside of class with professors and other students at dinner parties, enjoying the lake in town, and having parties at her apartment. In class, Lili loved having hands-on experiences where she was able to see her work being produced and showcased in exhibits. She was even given the chance to design and help build an exhibit on Redford glass which was displayed at the Fenimore Art Museum.

After graduating from CGP, Lili went on to have a very successful career and has filled numerous positions at different institutions. She explained that her experience at the Cooperstown Graduate Program was invaluable in moving her career forward. She learned numerous life skills that have helped her as a museum professional. She also made lifelong friends and priceless network connections within her field.


Hannah Deschenes


Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York-College at Oneonta




Cooperstown Graduate Association, Cooperstown, NY


96 KB
32.7 MB




Moving Image




Harpswell, ME


Hannah Deschenes


Lili Ott


Cooperstown, New York


Hi, this is Hannah Deschenes. I am interviewing Lili Ott remotely on Zoom. It is Tuesday, November 10th at 6:36 [pm]. This interview is being conducted for the Cooperstown Graduate [Program] oral histories project. Hi Lili, how are you?

Hi Hannah, good.

So, Lili, do you have any advice for an emerging museum professional who might be in graduate school now who is going to enter the museum field in the near future?

Oh, that’s a really good question. I think that, although I do know that it’s different now than when I went there because that was 5o years ago, but I think the more you can learn and the widest diversification so that you have a variety of skills is really invaluable because your career is going to be long. My career was 45 years, and I did such a variety of things from curatorial to all sorts of PR work and all sorts of education work. So, the more you can learn now, even if you don’t think you’re going to love that particular thing, the more valuable you’re going to find it in your own life and I just think about the areas that develop, like we didn’t even really have a development class and fundraising class when I was in Cooperstown because it wasn’t as big of a thing. Now every job has some component. If you’re working at a private organization, anyway, has some fundraising component. So, diversify, diversify, diversify.

Lili, do you find that the skills that you learned while you were at the Cooperstown Graduate Program have carried on throughout your entire career?

Absolutely, absolutely. In a real variety of ways. I learned to do oral interviews just like you are doing, you all are doing. And I’m doing some right now in Maine for the Maine bicentennial using the same exact skills. The technology has changed but the skills are exactly the same. And that’s certainly been true in so many areas of education. Just the interaction with people, I think that one of the real strengths at Cooperstown is it’s a small enough group that you learn to interact with a number of different types of people. And learning all of those skills at a professional level is so valuable as you go out.

Okay. Well thank you so much.

Thank you, Hannah, take care.


2:30 - Track 1

Bit Rate/Frequency

32.7 MB

Time Summary

Track 1, 0:00 - Introduction




Hannah Deschenes, “Lili Ott, November 10, 2020 (video),” CGP Community Stories, accessed April 14, 2021,