Concentrations/Minors: BA Art History and Minor in Museum Studies
Why did you decide to pursue the museum studies minor?
I had already declared art history during my freshman year and I thought it would be a good match because I knew that I wanted to work in a museum. I had always enjoyed going to museums. I just wanted to learn more about museums and what kinds of professions are available.
How did the museum studies minor impact your other fields of study?
I had an internship and I worked at the Denver Art Museum on their Native American collection, so my research skills that I had developed through art history papers were brought out in that internship. I took one class - Visual Cultures of the Black Atlantic - and that counted for my minor, so that was one way that it combined. I’m really interested in African art, and the museum world is about telling stories and how you tell those stories, so we talked about that in museum studies classes.
What was your favorite class that you took for the minor requirements and why?
I really enjoyed the Screen Arts and Cultures class I took on TV sitcoms. I know that the museum studies minor offers a lot of elective choices in SAC, but I had never taken one before and this pushed me to extend my boundaries. It was very interesting and brought history into the picture through sitcoms. It was another way to tell a story. I also enjoyed the Visual Cultures of the Black Atlantic, because it was about issues that I’m very interested in and it explored more than objects, it explored how you analyze things you can’t touch.
How was your internship experience?
It was incredible. I lucked out on my supervisor. She was really hands on, but at the same time was given a lot of responsibility and worked independently throughout the whole process. I worked on the reinstallation of the Denver Art Museum’s Native American collection. They have a great collection, but they didn’t think that the way it was installed was correct for today, so they wanted to bring it into the present. A big focus for them was highlighting the artist, which was never really done before. I got to learn about reinstallation projects. I worked on interpretive guides for specific pieces that the docents would highlight. My research skills from art history came into play, but it was for the education department. So I had to think of the public and how to make the art more accessible. I had previous internships in education before and this internship really solidified those experiences and my desire to go into museum education. I liked how the Museum Studies Program allowed me to do something off campus and how they were flexible. I feel so lucky.
Which museums has the minor led you to be involved in?
One of my classes was an RC class called Community Empowerment through the arts and I petitioned for it to count as an elective for the minor. It had an internship as part of the class. So for the internship I facilitated once a week at an alternative high school in Ypsilanti. I had three other interns with a class a ten and we had to come up with a lesson plan using the arts in some sort of way and teaching them how to express themselves in a healthy way and how to respect themselves and others. I brought in my art history knowledge, and it was really a great experience. I saw the way in which art can really change someone for the better. That changed my perspective and reminded me how much I want to pursue a career that includes art helping people.
What was one thing that surprised you about museums during your pursuit of the museum studies minor?
What really surprised me was, I learned this in 401, how a lot of museum professionals have shifted from being object-centered to being people centered, but studies have shown that visitors don’t want to learn, they want to have fun and enjoy their time. I learned that I felt that museum professionals were disconnected with what their public wants. And we talked about how museums have to be sneaky about how they present information to the public so that even if a visitor doesn’t want to learn, they can still get something out of a visit. That was the most shocking thing to me.
Where do you see museums fitting into your future?
And I definitely know that I want to pursue museum education. And I’m looking into graduate school and internships, I’m really really passionate about it. And I really think it’s something that I’m good at will enjoy. The internships helped me find that calling.
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