On Friday, February the 4th, three women from Agnes Scott College shadowed at The High Museum of Art: Cydnee Barrow (’14), Asha Boston (’14) and myself, Lola Clairmont (’13). The Career Counseling Office at ASC organized the event through their Career Observation Day Program. Our sponsor at The High Museum, Rhonda Matheison, planned individual opportunities for us to observe different employees throughout the day based on our interests. The program was well-organized and exposed us to a variety of museum activities. Asha spent the day with the Curatorial Assistant for the Photography and Modern Contemporary Art Department, Danielle Avram, and the Senior Manager of Public Relations, Cassandra Champion Streich. Cydnee observed Chief Financial Officer, Rhonda Matheison, Registrar Frances Francis, Curatorial Assistant of Photography & Modern and Contemporary Art, Danielle M. Avram, and Senior Manager of Public Relations, Cassandra Champion Streich. I met with The Director of Education, Pat Rodenwald, and Susan Crawley, the Director of Folk Art.
Both Cydnee and Asha consider themselves to be artists; Asha enjoys photography and Cydnee takes pleasure in studio art, with a current interest in art and architecture. Asha feels that her experience at The High changed the way she will take photos; she will now be concentrating more on the narrative quality of her work. Cydnee found the preparators and the registrar to be particularly appealing careers, because they focus on the hands-on aspects of exhibitions. I do not consider myself to be an artist, but I greatly enjoyed speaking with the Curator of Folk Art and learning exactly what curators do on a daily basis.
The three of us were shocked to discover how much planning and behind-the-scenes work goes on in a museum. Asha commented, “I knew that work went into what goes on behind “the scenes” of a museum, but I had no clue that they actually broke down walls and re-built them for specific exhibits. Sometimes the things that we see that we considered “new” had been planned for maybe three or four years in advance.” Personally, before this program, I did not realize that there is an immeasurable amount of communication that takes place between the different branches of the museum. In general, we were all impressed with the level of professionalism without pretention to which the employees held their work.
In conclusion, the only complaint that we had shared was that we wish the day at The High could have been longer. Asha feels that the program at The High gave her great networking opportunities, and Cydnee is in the process of applying for a summer internship at The High. Both Cydnee and Asha could now see themselves working in a museum setting in the future. This experience showed me that a PHD in Art History is almost necessary for art historians to work in a museum, and I now plan to pursue my education to the doctorate level. We all strongly recommend the Career Observation Day program to Agnes Scott students and wish to thank The High for this enlightening experience.