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Travels

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Duomo

Palazzo Vecchio

Piazzale Michelangelo

Ponte Vecchio

Palazzo Pitti

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Post Grad

Center of the Art World

Wow. It has been a month and a half since I have willingly shared my initial thoughts of being in the city. Boy, has a lot changed.

The so-called honeymoon phase of moving to a new place is exciting. You’re embracing not only a new geographical situation but a new cultural world to navigate through. New York is the epitome of endless possibilities. People from all walks of life are condensed into this metropolis. These people offer a bit of their own heart and life into their work, whether that is through street food or a makeshift shop around a city park. I love it.

I love hearing exchanges in all of the languages and accents New Yorkers have to offer. I love walking down the street and not seeing a majority of people that look like me. I love stumbling across unexpected eateries and (appetizing) smells. I love it here.

Which is why I have now become persistent that I live here in the near future for at least a few years. Since arriving to New York I have been looking and applying for jobs in cultural institutions. I am quite determined.


I stand my previous opinion that I thoroughly enjoy the work and environment I have been a part of with the Guggenheim (I am their Membership and Annual Fund spring intern). I never imagined myself being comfortable taking many phone calls with museum members (let alone at the Gugg!) to answer inquiries, renew or upgrade their membership, or redirect their call. I would never know what to expect on the other end.

The other half of my public-facing responsibilities is primarily through emails in the General Membership inbox. There are typically seven different types of emails that come through: general questions regarding upcoming events, an interest of joining/renewing/upgrading membership, update personal info (address or second person’s name on account), tax acknowledgement letter requests, PayPal confirmation receipts, voicemail recordings from missed phone calls, and the outlandish emails that only my supervisor or someone else on the team knows how to handle (there are a lot more than you’d think).

Fortunately, I am able to answer most emails that come through the inbox. I always have my cheat sheet with anything and everything someone could ask about the museum, membership, or upcoming exhibitions. You name it, I’ve most likely answered it. Even if the inquiry is not related to membership what-so-ever. Sometimes people just send an email to the first address they encounter, which is usually membership.

I felt proud and satisfied that I was serving the public in my role, to represent the Guggenheim (still in shock most days!!), and to have such a supportive and positive team. We (Membership and Annual Fund) includes myself, Huong – my super cool supervisor (associate), Laura and Sabrina – a couple of fun gals my age that work at the membership desk at the museum with Joey and Anthony – who also work at the desk, but have yet to meet IRL (membership sales associates), Tay – another super cool person (manager), and last but not least – Brooke (director).

As the membership intern, I also handle small projects that take no more than a couple of hours. These can be going through returned mail and then reaching out to that person for the current and correct mailing address to resend that mail. Or I could be fulfilling mail merges for letters and envelopes (properly printing out these items on letterhead paper and envelopes – which have resulted in many back and forth runs to the printer). Or I could be fulfilling catalogue mailings for particular members that cannot come to the museum to pick it up.

All days have been placed at the FiDi location where most of the museum’s administrative offices are. The museum (referred to by its mailing address number – 1071) only houses on-site staff which includes education, visitor experience, and food service. I used to be self-conscious that I would be the only one speaking on the phone within the block of desks. I quickly moved on from that fear by fully embracing my role, no matter how loudly and clearly I had to speak for someone who needed that on the other end of the line.

At the beginning of my internship the membership team was significantly short-staffed. They were in the process of hiring both full-time and part-time sales associates, and Brooke was on maternity leave for another few weeks. My one-on-one time with Huong was relatively brief. She would spend chunks of time introducing me to specific tasks within Raiser’s Edge, or in the inbox that I would help out with. I knew that over time and constant interaction with these programs and tasks that I would be more confident in this skillset.

After almost two months into my internship, I braved 1071 for a day to experience what the membership desk faces on a daily basis. The museum opens at 10am, which meant I was to be on the floor at 9:30am for the daily huddle of frontline staff for daily announcements. Doors open, but there is no line. People eventually flow in. After a quick bag check and wanding from security, visitors seem to drift over to the membership desk for some reason. Even after reading the literal signs that say membership, visitors will come up to the desk asking to or where to purchase general admission tickets.

The first hour or so was quite slow. We checked in maybe five members? During Sabrina’s break I spent some time clicking around the computer to better understand ClickPoint and how to check-in a member if they came to the desk. In addition to our members, we are also responsible for checking in patrons with an assortment of criteria such as cardholders of a specific credit card program, artists, SUNY-NYC students, members of reciprocal museum institutions, and many more.

With the emergence of the Countryside, The Future exhibition, we (staff engaging directly with the public) have received a number of interesting comments and questions.

After experiencing our front desk and an enjoyable (and cheap!) staff lunch at our restaurant/café – for the time being – I had a meeting with Huong to briefly review mail merging for a new responsibility assigned to the Membership team. If anyone is interested in working at a museum, they have to be flexible and willing to learn quickly. I love a new challenge that requires attention to detail. Shortly after this encounter, our anticipated email was sent out to members and ticket holders for our March Art After Dark.

We had to cancel our event as the city and state started to finally respond to the coronavirus crisis. In turn, we asked ticket holders to either email that they wanted a refund or to donate their ticket value to the Annual Fund. The inbox soon became inundated with short and friendly ‘please refund tickets’ emails with the rare ‘this is ridiculous!’ response. LOL. I was best assisting the team by answering the phone and taking care of non-AAD related emails in the inbox. It was an exhausting day for Huong and Tay as they fought to organize and coordinate refund efforts.

I happened to have been there on March 11, the day before the city-wide announcement was made that all museums would be closed indefinitely thanks to COVID-19. You can read more about my experiences by clicking here.


Outside of my internship I had been finishing up my thesis. To spare frustrating details as well as the effect of COVID-19 over in Italy… I will not be graduating until this August. This is not quite what I had anticipated nor wanted, but in today’s climate it is what’s best for everyone. I will have an additional two months of deliberation with my thesis advisor for edits. My new defense date isn’t even until mid-July.

Fortunately, as a temporary New Yorker, I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Hollander in person to meet with her to get to know her and share more about myself and my project. Over a glass of white wine, I delved into the positives and negatives of my master’s program, my current situation, aspirations for my career, and life lessons that are applicable to anyone. This conversation felt so empowering and liberating that at least someone else understands my predicament and personable to engage with. I am really looking forward to continue working with her!

When I was finally done handling my thesis for awhile, I made time to enjoy New York. I would plan out an entire day for me to walk around, visit some sites, eat good food, and just de-stress. The time I allotted for myself was really important to my mental health. It was the only time I could be social outside of a school and work environment. Yes, I was doing these activities by myself, but I felt energized by the people around me that were just … living life.

In a place like New York it isn’t weird at all to do things by yourself. People ride the subway, go to coffee shops, eat out, go for a walk, etc. all the time by themselves. This was one more reason why I have become so determined to move here. My personality and aptitude to get out and explore and do things by myself was normal. If I did such a thing back home, not only would I probably run into someone I know, but I would get some side-eye depending on where I was.

After living in the chaos of my first city experience – Florence, I couldn’t have done such an extreme case – such as NY what-so-ever. There are weirdos and homeless people everywhere. They were there in Florence too. But I can honestly argue that I have enough street smarts to best handle those situations. The best line of defense? Headphones, sunglasses, and a confident walk. I always wield those tools with me anytime I leave my apartment.

The most terrifying thing I’ve seen on the subway (so far) has been a woman wearing nothing but a wife beater, shuffling around the other end of the car, and making her bed for the time being on a stretch of seats on a C train. She came out of nowhere. Again, best to pretend nothing is happening and mind your own business. From time to time on the subway when there is a performer swinging from the poles, I will give a side glance, breaking my act that I have no idea that that is happening. But I will shortly resume reading The Goldfinch (I feel like I’ve been reading it forever) on my phone, with a slight sideways grin of happiness.

I’m not sure if I am still in the midst of the honeymoon phase or if I have a high resilience to the craziness of New York (specifically Manhattan), but I love it here. I want to stay here. I ❤ NY.

Categories
Post Grad

NYC During the COVID-19 Crisis

Changes disrupting daily life have emerged faster than a New York minute over the past week. In the course of three days the city has begun to shut down. Life as we know it is evolving to the quick changes implemented across the world. But that doesn’t mean people are taking the hint.

Let’s start on Wednesday, March 4. I was offered an extension on my internship that would technically turn into a paid, temp position (yay!). The position entailed my support at a slew of events planned with the museum in tandem with the conjoining city-wide events with Frieze Week, one of the biggest art shows New York holds every year. I felt so happy that the Development team understood my work ethic and wanted to keep me on board for additional time. I texted my mom – excited to share that I would stay in New York until late May (hoping this opportunity would definitely turn into a PT or FT position).

A couple of days later on Friday, March 6. I was attending the Armory Show with some of the other Guggenheim interns. This is the other big art show New York holds every spring – hosting an average of 55,000-65,000 attendees each year. The general sentiment at the time was that this virus was not as serious as everyone was making it out to be. People were still somewhat mindful that ‘something was going around’, but no one was fully practicing extra health precautions. The first confirmed case in NYC was not announced until March 1.

Going around the Armory Show there were about a couple dozen people I saw donning masks and gloves, and even one wearing lab goggles. Hand sanitizer stations were posted by food outposts and restrooms, signs reminding attendees of good hygiene practices. Booths and works were clustered close together. People were mindful of avoiding personal contact with one another. But there was no fear what-so-ever.

Saturday night, March 7 I went out. It was the first time I went out at night since living in the city. I spent an evening with a fellow cohort mate of my master’s program, Marissa, who lives and works in NYC. We strolled across the Village for a half hour or so looking for a place to eat that wasn’t a two-hour wait. We ended up at a gluten-free Italian place where I enjoyed overpriced bruschetta and a glass of red wine – that had every table full of happy and loud people. Then we shifted closer to NYU and went to a two-story bar that only reminds me that I was glad to be out of college. We spent 45 minutes or so there. I can’t tell you how many people I was around, but I can tell you that I later regretted the decision to potentially expose myself to someone with COVID-19.

before the COVID-19 outbreak, using dishes that would need to be washed

Before and after implementing food service changes

after the COVID-19 outbreak, using dishes that should be thrown away after use

Living in an all-women boarding house the staff were smart to decide that they would immediately implement safe food serving and cleaning practices. Our meals were served cafeteria-style with an additional soup and salad bar set out. Now everything is prepared and served behind the counter. They have silverware already wrapped up in napkins ready to go, all food items are prepared by food service staff, and our drinks must be poured into provided containers instead of directly into our own personal water bottles or mugs. Just a couple of days ago they transitioned into single-use plastic and paper products instead of washing dishes. Common spaces and bathrooms are cleaned multiple times a day. The risk is too high.

Sunday, March 8 I visited the Whitney Museum of American Art. I used the High Line to get there since I live right next to Hudson Yards where it begins/ends. There were many visitors to the museums, cramming in to see their coveted exhibition, Vida Americana. Truth be told I was there solely for that reason as well. After discovering their permanent collection (I forgot about Demuth’s My Egypt!) and their temporary exhibition, I wandered out to the balcony to bask in the sun. It was such a great sense of carelessness. I was living in the moment. Pinching myself over the views, the weather, and the overall sense of happiness I was experiencing.

Monday, March 9, it was a normal day where I caught my 9:20ish E train to WTC and it was nowhere near as crowded as it would have been on a typical morning. I had no concern about finding a seat or worrying about someone cramming in the middle seat next to me. I ate my lunch outside in Zuccotti Park (remember Occupy Wall Street?) since it was such an abnormally warm and sunny day. Again, I did not have to worry about finding a seat since there were not as many people there as usual.

Wednesday, March 11 was my first (and last) day stationed at the museum just to shadow the public-facing membership desk on the floor. This was built into my schedule two weeks ago so this was either good or bad planning. Before opening to the public, sanitation workers were already deep cleaning all high touch surfaces (doors and door handles, countertops, elevator buttons, etc.). We also spent some time wiping off our desk countertops, credit card readers and buttons, computer keyboards, etc. Over an hour into opening we had maybe, maybe 150 people come through our doors. I spent only an hour and a half at the desk which resulted in interacting directly with two members (being handed their membership card or photo ID). Yes, I immediately used hand sanitizer following those interactions.

The night before we had already decided to cancel our March 27 Art After Dark program. We planned to send the email blast that afternoon. Unfortunately, our email inbox was still receiving questions about the event or people already asking for refunds. After lunch I transitioned upstairs to the office space for membership to assist Huong with typical inbox and phone inquiries to alleviate those concerns before the inbox was inundated with ‘please refund my tickets’ emails. We were warned shortly before the emails went out and within 5 minutes, the inbox was flooded. I felt so stressed and helpless to the team because I was not allowed to assist with that project. Surprisingly, people were only making phone calls in response to the mailing they recently got to renew their membership early and receive an additional two months (our normal renewal cycles).

Thursday, March 12 I stayed in my apartment the entire day, applying for jobs, seeking solace in career ambitions. I also spent time planning my ‘final day of fun’ for the next day where I wanted to swing by before being confined to my apartment building for the indefinite future.

Friday, March 13 was a day I needed for my mental health. I did indeed take the subway, but for the least amount of time possible. I wore gloves, sat away from everyone, and rode the quickest trains. I first went over to Brooklyn to drop by DUMBO, take in that one photo sans Empire State Building between the legs of the Manhattan Bridge because it was so cloudy. There was only a couple other people there that I had take my photo (to which I wiped down after they did that), and nannies out walking children in strollers along the waterfront. There was a deep sense of gloom. Not only because of the weather, but the pure lack of people and signs of everyday life.

Continuing on in the direction of the piers spilling out into the East River and the bay, I walked to pier 5, out towards the water. I spent about 15 minutes or so watching the fog roll off Lady Liberty’s upward arm. The clouds slicing FiDi’s buildings in half. An ominous chill sweeping up from the Atlantic. At that moment, I felt compelled to check my email. Lo and behold two emails from my Guggenheim account declaring my deep suspicion 1. since the museum is closed indefinitely, interns cannot telecommute or work remotely; and 2. that my extension was no longer needed for the Advancement team.

I was not surprised. These documents merely confirmed my deepest fear – what is going to happen? I am still in the dark. My spring internship is supposed to go until Friday, April 17. My flight home was planned for that Sunday, April 19. At the bare minimum most NYC public institutions are closed until at least the end of the month. After that who knows? The city is not closed. There is a great sense of pressure to do so. But the state of New York is under a state of emergency. Mayor de Blasio is being called upon by City Council members to #ShutDownNYC, including the decision to close restaurants and bars. Although, New Yorkers can sign up for text alerts by texting COVID to 692-692… Live updates are found here.

Tourists and locals alike have proven that they either do not care or are fully informed with how serious this situation is. The problem lies in the people that act reckless because they think are causing no harm by being out and about, exposing themselves to anyone and everyone. By unknowingly becoming a vector in carrying the virus, you can risk infecting immunocompromised individuals that will most likely not survive the consequences of getting sick from COVID-19. People packed into bars and restaurants Saturday, March 14. Ages across the board represented with an infant as well as folks in their 50s. People that are panic buying a lifetime supply of toilet paper. I don’t get it. There is a reason why work and schools have shifted to remote communication! It really feels like the beginning of a horror movie.

At this time, I think it is best that I try to return home as soon as possible. I just received an email from HR at the Guggenheim (as of 8:31pm Sun. Mar. 15) that an employee at the downtown office, who was there Monday morning, is showing symptoms that are presumptively COVID-19. I was there Monday morning… This is why you must remain at home! It can take up to 10 days for people to be symptomatic.

Given how quickly changes are being made everywhere, I wouldn’t doubt that domestic flights are going to be severely limited or discontinued indefinitely. It makes the most sense for my mental and physical health to go back to Kansas. Not to mention the financial benefit of not paying NYC rent and inflated prices for an additional month.

What have I been doing? Finally writing some new content for my website, finishing the series I’ve been watching on Netflix, taking long naps, watercoloring, getting up to the rooftop of my building for some vitamin D, and reading. It is in everyone’s best interest to stay inside. The city will always be here, and I shall return home.

Categories
Post Grad

My Kind of Place

I can bet that just about everyone has dreamt of living in New York City. Whether it’d be a good fit or not is a different problem, but for me, I think it just works. I know it’s only been a week and some change since I landed at LaGuardia in a complete haze that I get to live this dream (albeit for only three months), but I know when I find something I like it.

People are constantly in a rush to be somewhere else. The pace of life is nothing like the midwest where I’ve grown up. New York’s streets hide absolutely nothing. The candor of ‘locals’ trashing on all of the touristy sites, MTA, and Jersey is refreshing.

My morning commute is less than 30 minutes door to door. Which is spectacular! What is less so enthralling with the mundane daily routine is the ride back home afterwards. The train cars have clumps of people strung together by the doors rushing to make the 6:08pm train uptown, while those seated and hanging onto the railings between doors are in a state between comfortable and wariness. I myself am a good subway passenger, getting up for those who need my seat more than myself, and confining my existence into a space only envied by a package of sardines. Yet, I’m left with the unknown ‘right’ response to someone who is taking up space that could also be occupied by someone else, or the person incessantly coughing at stops into the hand they are using to hold onto the railings.

The mob mentality of New Yorkers is to simply ignore. Tuned out to the rest of the world via wireless headphones blasting the latest Beck album or the guilty pleasure podcast. Typically paired with some mindless knockoff of Bejeweled or Candy Crush. I choose to follow the crowd by defaulting to an overplayed playlist of last year’s jams, followed by the blank staring of the overhead bed sheets ad plastered in the entire car.

My office is incredibly quiet for how many people there are. Desks are separated with partitions that isolate the neighboring work stations only if seated. There is the occasional quip of making a deadline to a co-worker or conferring over a model of the museum’s rotunda. This condition is of my concern in that part of my internship entails answering phone calls, in fact, many calls. Then again, the office is a reflection of the preference to work ‘separately’ by communicating through your computer’s work-approved instant messenger program or phone extensions than face to face. Which I fully approve of quite honestly. I don’t even have to state when exactly I’ll take my lunch (which is allotted an entire hour) or if step away from my desk for a 15 minute break. This work environment, unsure if it is similar to other NY offices or its own situation, just works.

Amidst the throngs of homeless people and flashy business folks playing chicken on the sidewalk while they check their emails – I find a peaceful balance of the hustle and bustle. My 9′ x 13′ private room is my safe haven. The weird noises from my pipes and radiator, traffic at my doorstep – honking and sirens aplenty, barking from the tiny rat of a dog that lives across the street, have all become white noise. They now lull me to sleep instead of stirring me awake at 4:30am.

Sure, I have not yet explored beyond my little bubble. In my favor, the spring weather and timing of completing my thesis will go hand in hand for my plans to escape the artificiality of Herald Square in my backyard come March. Let’s just hope my wallet is willing to accept the fate of having the world of food at my fingertips and discounted admission to museums across the city.

Categories
kshs

Getting to Know the Visitor

This past week I completed my internship at the Kansas Historical Society (KHS) as their Visitor Studies intern. I am relieved yet concerned with the future of the Kansas Museum of History.

My responsibilities outlined at the beginning of my time only dwindled once reality set in. Expectations of my position shifted around once administration and board members settled on the adjusted timeline for the renovation.

It was decided that I would be spending my time; identifying the best practices in the field of visitor studies to develop a literature review, assisting with designing research projects, testing plans, and evaluations, and contributing my creativity to ideas and strategies in the advancement of KHS’s programs, services, and galleries.

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I had five-ish primary projects I worked on during my 200+ hours at KHS. These were: the literature review, creating a ‘user handbook’, a SWOT analysis of the galleries, comment cards, and Kansas Memory.

The literature review started off as incredibly broad project to tackle down. I had to teach myself about the field of visitor studies, assimilating its history within today’s context, and how it exists in the museum world. I looked for information about human/visitor centered design, visitor needs and types, how to study visitor behavior, and comparing program evaluation types and steps of accumulating data, all just to name a few! This project took the majority of my time because there was no good stopping points quite honestly, and the more articles I read, the more interesting certain topics and research questions there were.

Any time I found a ‘relevant’ article to the process of museum renovation, yet had no real category it fit into, I would save it to a miscellaneous type folder (which I had to later re-organize!).

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Secondly, I created a concise and accessible document with specific details for Kansas Museum of History staff to use in the future. The document had six pages organized by definitions followed by five topics. Hyperlinks were attached to citations, my previous notes from articles, or webpages with that information. I merely fashioned this document together to allow options in the future development of the museum.

Next, my supervisor, Ashley, and I, went on five different occasions into the galleries to conduct a SWOT analysis. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. I had never practiced this exercise before in a museum. The most relatable experience I had previously was in my museum spaces and technology course the second semester in Florence. We practiced analyzing a single gallery space in a contemporary art museum in Florence, Museo Novecento, when we had to measure out our assigned space by steps, noting each element in the space. An element would include a wall text, an object, a weight-bearing column, a change in elevation of the floor, etc. Somewhat translating that process at KMH was not quite the same.

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I was primarily focused on challenges and barriers that would prevent visitors from learning and enjoying the museum. The biggest trends I noticed across the entire museum was: label legibility, way finding, and continuity. Label legibility entails its placement to the visitor’s line of sight – if they have to strain or bend down to read it, its orientation to object – if it is not necessary to ‘find’ the label amidst all other supporting text, and size/color/font choice/lighting. Wayfinding is incredibly important in a museum that is organized by free choice, with no guided path to follow. This component closes the gap of a visitor wondering where they are in the galleries, if they are going the right way they want to, and recognizing change of subject or time. Continuity in a museum means that the stylization of signage is unified, the colors and themes are easily identifiable, and object protection has the same protocol.

On the contrary, my supervisor was focused on the content and ‘big picture’ of the museum. Her background is in sociology and social science, as opposed to my art history and museum background. While I was going through the museum I would go in the mindset of a first-time visitor, which is the majority of visitors at the KMH.

Next, after wrapping up my literature review finds, I was browsing the museum’s shared drive and came across a folder with comment card information from the past two years. The information was simply, and inefficiently, entered in Word documents that were difficult to synthesize. I took it upon myself to spend an entire day converting the information in a single Excel document with a few worksheets. The biggest trends that visitors would write about were: admission fees, labels and way finding, accessibility, and their overall visit experience. Hopefully the method will be sustained and used in the support of the gallery renovation proposal.

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Lastly, I did some research for KHS’s online collection, Kansas Memory, in regards to usability. Usability centers a user’s (in this case a visitor) needs, limitations, and preferences to the platform’s objectives. I did not want to reinvent the wheel, so I looked into existing accumulations of online resources and information that would support my recommendations. This included IBM’s Accessibility Checklist that they frequently update, library website usability testing research articles, and existing websites that have precedents (or model) of components that could be considered for the future construction of the website.

My overall experience at KHS was a little different than I thought it would turn out, but nevertheless, I learned a lot about my work style and preferences, that I need to turn my academic writing style into concise points that are digestible in meetings and briefs with my supervisor. I have always been told to be as thorough as possible, but now that I soon shifting into the workforce, I need to be prepared for that environment. Ashley and I worked so well together, with similar work styles and preferences, and backgrounds compared to others in our division.

I am deeply appreciative for the convenience and flexibility of KHS being located in my hometown of Topeka, with only a 12 minute commute, and with supportive staff. Being a state agency, they do have their limitations and a certain degree of secrecy. Moving forward, I will not eliminate the possibility of working for the government.

 

 

Categories
kshs

Practice Makes Perfect

You know the saying. You probably heard it sometime in elementary school from some PE teacher or one of those ‘inspirational’ posters hanging on the hallways, but it’s a statement that has been the theme of the past two weeks at KSHS.

As most research projects go, you have to spend hours combing through everything and anything out there pertaining to your own project, a fun little thing called a literature review. These efforts are not only necessary to my thesis project (standby), but to the research project I will be helping out with at KSHS. The field of visitor studies is new to me, but is incredibly relevant to the diversity of topics museum studies offers.

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So currently, I am still embarking on this journey of creating a literature review as well as prioritizing and organizing my findings and considerations to guide and direct the goals that my supervisor and I will take on when we are on the stage of actually designing and planning our research initiative.

A typical day in my past three weeks at KSHS look like this: starting with one huge piece of literature (normally a book), writing down all interesting citations, authors, or projects, finding actual copies to read with my access to the Marist online library resources (YAY TUITION), and then getting side-tracked because there’s an incredibly relevant and exciting title in the search results and reading that article instead of actual intended reading selection, THEN actually reading the intended article. Repeat. This is not at all new to those who have had the fortunate pleasure of working on a literature review or huge research project.

Luckily, I have started to shift my attention towards a socially acceptable way of organizing my findings and important points to consider into a Google Slides format, which has only been one half day of work, but I am sitting at almost 60 slides already!

Last week, my supervisor and I completed a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of the special exhibition space. It helps significantly to be physically in the spaces and have a sense of the museum’s identity. Sometimes, there’s a disconnect between administration, who have one idea, and the exhibition and graphic designers who are tasked to do their tasks in a reasonable and cost-effective way. Later this week, I will be going into the permanent main gallery spaces and completing a SWOT analysis.

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First impressions really resonate. As a museum studies student, I do my best to take a step back and put myself in the mindset of a first-time visitor, as well as visitors who may have different needs that the museum may be ‘ignoring’ or unaware of. Considerations extend anywhere from lighting, font legibility, wayfinding tools, in-gallery activities, object protection, and ease with following a narrative.

Visitor studies exists as a hybrid of market research, sociological and psychological methodologies, customer service, and a sense of reality.

Quite honestly, I think it is a perfect lineup of my background. But do I have concerns? Of course. I am not great with numbers/statistics/charts/data analysis, etc. Luckily, I am not alone by any means. My supervisor’s position is new, and she is still adjusting into all of the projects she is handed, rather than attending to the main project she was hired for. She is learning how to balance and cater to every need that KSHS is looking to fulfill, and it’s challenging.

But hey, practice makes perfect, right?

Categories
projects

Temple Beth Sholom

During my summer after coming back from Italy, I was really bored. I was not only procrastinating-ish starting my thesis, but just taking a step back from all of my priorities. So I started asking people to help with things. One of those things, was to help out with small projects at my local temple.

The first project I have done is to reorganize the walls of the hallway of the religious school wing. My first visit was to evaluate what existed on the walls, what could be changed, what is available to bring out of storage, and some basic measurements. I asked the Rabbi to purchase some nice poster frames and double sided tape.

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My second visit was to physically take down some of the things on the walls and nail posters on the wall. A nice addition to each poster was an accompanying one-page to each poster with more information about the person who said the quote on the poster, some reflection questions, information about the graphic designer, and connections to Judaism. It was a wall label that already existed! I hung each of those next to each poster.

The nice thing about the frames is that the temple can switch out posters each year when they get a new set sent to them. I thought this was a nice way to provide an array of reflective quotes that may resonate with someone more than another.

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STAY TUNED FOR FUTURE PROJECTS!

 

Categories
Post Grad

The Ball is Rolling

Hey y’all! I FINALLY have a consistent schedule for this semester.

It all kicked off today when I started my first day at my internship with the Kansas Historical Society. I will be at that internship twice a week all day. Because it was my first day, I got through typical first day things like meeting the team I will be in contact with most, familiarizing myself with the office spaces, setting up my own desk/cubicle (yay!), and attempting to set up my email.

In this first month I am responsible for researching for thorough research and strategies for effective and meaningful social research in the upcoming visitor studies I will be conducting later this semester with my supervisor. This entails combing through the literature on visitor studies in museums, gallery spaces, historic sites, and even at Disney! This particular project is focused on the Kansas Museum of History, which is attached to the Kansas Historical Society office building as a single complex. Prior to my internship I had visited the museum twice. Once as a school trip (can’t remember when exactly) and the second when I had my bat mitzvah party seven or so years ago…

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I am truly excited to see the actual progress in the time to come after researching how to research, executing the researching, and analyzing the research results. I have particular goal in mind except to learn more about the planning and administrative decision making that goes into the actualization of a cultural institution.

In the mean time, I survived my first week at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center! I won’t be surprised in the next week if my immune system decides that encountering hundreds of kid germs is enough for my body to handle, we’ll see. I am working about 15-20 hours a week, so that is definitely manageable with my life right now, allowing me to make a little money while gaining experience working with kiddos.

For my first week, my favorite interaction so far was when I was verbally supporting the painting skills of a little guy whose grandma was sitting outside of the Plexiglass of the painting area. He was so darn excited to play with the paint, and even more so when he discovered how to make purple and orange!

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Also! I won a scholarship to attend the Kansas Museums Association’s annual conference for free, including travel expenses! Although it will not be my first museum conference experience, I am more than excited to participate in the roundtables and listen from all speakers. I will also have the opportunity to meet and network with Kansas museum professionals! I have learned that in-person connections are the most meaningful, and that is best done at conferences since there are so many institutions, small and large, that are dispersed everywhere.

Otherwise, nothing else is going on right now. See you next week!

Categories
Post Grad

It’s Been a Minute…

Hi friends! The last time I was making a post for my website, I was finishing up a summer internship before my senior year at KU. Since then, MANY things have happened, namely graduating from KU and then immediately pursuing my Master’s in Museum Studies in Florence, Italy. Fast forward nine-ish months and I am back in Kansas ‘writing’ my thesis (hey, I’m doing the best I can right now) and searching for full-time positions in my field. In the meantime, I have snagged a necessary internship for my degree program and a part-time position at a local children’s museum.

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MA commencement in Florence, May 2019

I will be at the Kansas Museum of History here in Topeka, Kansas twice a week, 8:30am-4:30pm working as a Visitor Studies intern! I will be involved with two projects. The first will be to assess visitors’ experiences at the museum, particularly concerned with navigation/pathways, signage, exhibit design, where and how time is spent, and interactions throughout the space. Secondly, I will be assisting the research process for the redesign of the museum’s website. The main focus is to improve usability and attract more visitors to the website, museum, and historic sites.

I will also be at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, part-time, as a gallery assistant. I had my first day on the floor yesterday, and I am excited to continue working there! This opportunity allows me to learn how to provide a safe and fun learning environment for all visitors. I will either be on the floor as a floater, tidying up all stations when no one is there and making sure everyone is having fun, even if they are playing by themselves. Or I will be in the painting space refilling non-toxic paint and cleaning up the stations. In short, I am being paid to play with kids! So far this has been the most casual job I have ever had. But that doesn’t mean the payoff is nothing. Because I am attracted to a full-time educational position at a museum, I need the diverse experiences of working with all age groups in many different settings. Truly, I think children’s museums have the greatest challenge of providing a wide array of learning opportunities in their exhibitions, that will keep a child engaged. These approaches can even be connected to the highly sophisticated modern art museum institution. It is just a matter of how they are translated.

In the near future, I will try (key word there) to post weekly with reflective content on both of my experiences throughout the semester, as well as any skill-based tactics I will practice. At the end of my internship I am to write a paper about my time at the museum, so this blog will not only make my recounting of everything easier, but hold me accountable in the long run to my professional development.

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If I’m bored (probably won’t happen) then I will start a completely new section on my time in Florence, which is probably something that is incredibly interesting and rewarding to reflect and read on, but let’s see what actually happens…

And if I’m REALLY bored (or need another accountable way to share my experience) then I will start a section for the process of writing my thesis. Transparency. Because I think that that is the most valuable tool I can provide without compensating my sanity. Let me know what you think!

Categories
SUMMER 2017

A Weekend in the Bluff City

The evening of July 7 I realized that I only had so much time down in Northwest Arkansas and only a handful of free weekends to travel and explore the area. I wanted to drive somewhere. I contemplated between Tulsa and Little Rock because they were a quick road trip away with minimum commitment and plenty of things to do for a couple of days. Then I thought about Memphis. It being five hours away it was a bit of a drive and would definitely eat into my travel plans of spending 10 hours of my weekend simply driving.

But then I said, sure. But with who? I had Tyler or any other intern to accompany me if I wanted. But to heck, I had never traveled anywhere completely alone, so why not? I know how to travel, be smart and safe, make sound decisions. My only concern was the driving honestly. The most I had ever driven one way was only 3 1/2 hours (from Lawrence to Bentonville, nonetheless).

Friday night I browsed Airbnb, got a space for two nights for under $40, planned my itinerary, and packed my bag. I worked Chihuly Saturday Night the following day and passed the hell out that night.

July 9

I left Bentonville a little after 8am with a full tank of gas, a long Spotify playlist, Starbucks coffee in one hand and steering wheel in the other. Driving down I-49 was easy until you hit the tumultuous hills, bridges, and tunnel crossing through the Ozark Mountains. For some reason, semi drivers like to race SUVs like trying to traverse through dramatic elevation changes…

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Anyways, changing onto I-40 outside of Fort Smith was fine. Driving through the hills, heavily forested scenery, and Johnny Cash ringing around me was relaxing. Traffic got steep around Little Rock as expected, and the drive from then on out was navigating around the herds of semis amongst the construction as best as you could.

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I got to Memphis around 1:30pm, and headed straight to the National Civil Rights Museum. I ate my packed lunch, went inside, got my ticket and spent around 3 hours navigating through the museum. This was a visit I HAD to visit while down in Memphis. The only trouble was digesting all of the content they have stowed on the exhibitions. It was overwhelming in some portions but I was more thankful than anything being there and educating myself while interacting with the displays and artifacts. But over everything, paying homage to Martin Luther King Jr. was of the utmost importance of visiting the site. It was solemn, like I was transported back to the late 1960s, embedded in tension of segregation.

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With a change of pace I went to the Peabody Hotel to watch the famous ducks make their walk to the elevator for their dinner and rooftop penthouse. After watching the 5pm show, I went up to the penthouse to look at the views and look at the ducks’ home. After getting back down to the ground I walked down Main St. which is closed off to vehicles for pedestrian and trolley traffic. The area is lined with new restaurants, shops, and public art.

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When I was done killing time I walked down to Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken to eat dinner. I wasn’t sure if having a police officer posted by the front door was a good or bad sign, but it being 6pm and all the tables full on a Sunday was a great sign. I had to only wait for about 10 minutes. I walked in around the same time as an older woman who was there by herself as well, so instead of waiting more time to sit at a table, I invited her to sit at my table. Her name was Jan, a retired elementary school teacher road tripping across the country in her RV with her dog. She was in town for the day, having spent most of the afternoon at Graceland, she decided to eat at Gus’s for dinner after hearing from her friends to go there. We enjoyed each other’s company while enjoying some spicy fried chicken, beans, and slaw.

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The previous Hannah, from a year ago, would have never thought to invite someone else to eat at the same table as her, let alone travel alone. But recently I have learned to like spending time alone, to my thoughts, enjoying the silence. So that’s something to reflect on.

With a few more hours left on my parking meter I went down to the Mississippi River to walk alongside and enjoy the people walking, running, dogs, just simply being riverside. I stayed long enough to enjoy the sunset and slight breeze while sitting in a rocking chair.

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Before complete darkness I went to the 24/7 donut joint, Gibson’s Donuts to grab breakfast for the next morning. I got a maple bacon one, and an Oreo one.

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I then checked into my Airbnb. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of Heidi, the host, who used to teach at the University of Memphis, and since has been using this as her primary source of income. The other guests were long-term, there for internships in Memphis for the summer. So having college-aged guys there was a relief instead of having some creepy older middle aged guys or anything.

My only problem was that Heidi had two cats. Now, I have become more and more allergic to these creatures as the years go on. So much so that my right eye was slightly swollen when I woke up the following morning. Cats are alright…

July 10

I had an earlier start to my day than I anticipated but that did not bother me too much. My tour at Graceland was not until 11am, so I took my time getting around and did not leave the Airbnb until 10:15am or so. My grandpa told me that I HAD to go to Graceland at some point in my life, and that day had come. Let me forewarn you, it was the epitome of American tourism. I bought the ‘cheapest’ ticket for a measly $34 (wow student discount of $2), plus $10 for parking. They forget to include that. My ticket only granted me access to do the mansion tour, wow…

After being sifted into a brief 10 minute montage of Elvis’ life (leaving out how he died of course) that feels like an extended introduction of a documentary, waiting for the break in music for some kind of narration. Then you head to an enormous line for a shuttle that takes literally 45 minutes to wait, but only after taking your picture in front of a giant backdrop of the Graceland gates – the height of American tourism- jeez. Once you get somewhere close to the front of the line they hand you a damn iPad with a strap to throw around your neck or on your shoulder (what I did) as your personal tour guide – thanks John Stamos.

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You ride a shuttle for less than 5 minutes to simply cross the damn street and pull up to the front of the mansion (no you cannot simply walk there). Then you are shuffled into another line (shocker) while perched on the front porch listening to the brief history of how Graceland came to be while suffering through stifling Southern heat. You are shepherded inside where everyone acts like you’re in another line, when in fact you can just roam around as long as you’re up against the rope to make room for more paying guests. So instead of being stuck amongst the pack, I waited out the storm and walked around the house at my own pace without being pressured by annoying tourists all while listening to Stamos, of course.

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What I thought was most interesting at that point was the staircase downstairs that is lined with psychedelic mirrors (they simply fed Elvis’ ego I’m sure). Another tidbit that was peculiar was that his upstairs quarters are all private because even while living at Graceland he was all glammed up and put together while interacting with family and guests on the main level.

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Once you get past the tourist veneer of it all, it is still exciting and mesmerizing to be in such a customized and historic site that belonged to such a well-known public figure.

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If you absolutely dislike tourist traps, inflated ticket sales and gift shops, and do not want to waste 3 hours of your time (half of it spent waiting in lines), then Graceland is not the place for you. FYI.

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I drove about 10 minutes away from Graceland to Jim Neely’s Interstate BBQ for a late lunch. I got a pork rib sandwich with a side of beans. I really loved the sauce. It almost envied Kansas City – but not quite! After enjoying that meal I drove to the other side of town to visit Jerry’s Sno Cones. The line was quite lengthy, but not nearly as long as the menu options. I ordered the wedding cake flavor as a supreme, which is an infusion of sno cone and soft serve vanilla ice cream. It was one of the most refreshing and unique flavor and texture combinations that I had ever had – and it was so delightful.

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For whatever reason, I already thought it was a good idea to head back to downtown Memphis and see one of the most obvious buildings of the Memphis skylines, and that is the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid. Yes, it was one of the most fitting and odd features of Memphis. It used to be an arena before Bass Pro bought out the place. The entire space is just absolute ridiculousness. The main level has a couple of restaurants, a hotel, bowling alley, an enormous fish tank, and fish swimming about in the inground pond of sorts, as well as a couple of alligators residing at the bottom of the giant 28 story freestanding elevator, and the store of course.

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You can ride this elevator to the top of the pyramid and look out on downtown Memphis on a lookout deck or while enjoying dinner at the restaurant. Yes, I paid $10 to see this view, glass floor outlook deck and all. Have I mentioned that I hate heights? Oh well…

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I went back to my car, and went to Central BBQ by the National Civil Rights Museum for dinner. Yes, I can have BBQ for two meals in one day. I got the half slab dry rub plate with a roll, slaw, and beans with a beer. Wow, the dry rub was fantastic, but being used to Kansas City style BBQ I just had to have sauce so I tried their vinegar sauce. Not only was I full and content, but I found another person to be company with alone at the bar. I ate at the bar to prevent any awkwardness with a table.

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I dropped my leftovers at my car and walked back to Beale St. to enjoy my evening. I sifted by the street flippers asking for tips, the many bars that offered curbside service to sell booze to walk with while walking down Beale (one of the few places you can do that in the States). I ultimately got a damn Beale Big Ass Beer that I managed to get down before enjoying an evening of listening to blues music at B.B. King’s Blues Club.

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I sat at the bar to settle the issue of occupying a table alone. I later met an older couple visiting the States from New Zealand that were very lively. We talked it up about travels, family, and the wife and I enjoyed up on the dancefloor jiving to Ray Charles. She later gave me her number and told me to give her a call if I was in that part of the world.

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I stayed until close out at 11pm to get my $3’s worth of entertainment, and it was worth it. It was the most entertaining Monday I had every experienced.

July 11

I took my time getting up and heading out of Memphis around 11am. I wanted to stop in Little Rock on the way back to the Clinton Presidential Library.

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I only had known so little about President Clinton from high school history class and visiting his house in Fayetteville, so I was expecting to walk away knowing much more than before. When I got inside to the upper floor I happened upon a starting tour group so I decided to join it and get a walkthrough of the museum. Both unfortunately and fortunately the main guide was just giving what seemed like her third or fourth tour because she was reading right off of the cards and checking up and back to her supervisor. It was still an enjoyable and knowledgeable tour about the museum.

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There were many artifacts and tidbits about history and events that I had no idea about because I was too young to know about them when they happened during my lifetime. The library was worth a visit for sure. Outside of the cantilever library is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Arkansas River and in the front lawn is a sapling from the Anne Frank tree which was surprising.

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Another 3 1/2 hours later I was back at home in Bentonville. I was super appreciative of my time spent away from my summer home and being able to support myself enough to travel to a place I had never visited before, alone.

If you have ever been to Memphis as well, let me know what you think about my visit!

 

Categories
SUMMER 2017

You Know Nothing, Jon Snow

Hi everyone, it’s been a hot minute, so this blog post will solely be about my most recent  internship work. If you want to read about my time in Memphis, click here.

July 6 (9:30-4:30pm)

Having missed the previous work day from an illness, today was a calm and quiet day in the office. I kept to myself while working on emailing all performers and staff members in regards to that week’s Chihuly Saturday Night.

An additional project Tyler and I were introduced to were 2018 program briefs. Our job was to compile the information from a Google doc to individual Word docs of all program types under Sara and Moira. I am responsible for working on Sara’s programs – like artinfusion, distinguished speakers, and music series. It is more tedious to make individual Word docs for each type of event than to type all the details, summary, and goals & outcomes from the Board’s expectations.

July 7 (9:30-1pm)

This Friday was the most Friday feeling I’ve had while down in Bentonville. Because of the skewed hours public programs has, weekends usually are Mondays and Tuesdays, and Fridays feel like Wednesdays. The reason why this was so was because all of the college interns embarked on facility tours of Sam’s Club HQ, the David Glass Technology Center, and Walmart HQ – so essentially a day off for me. Sara had not scheduled me for that afternoon when we were through, but I was not going to complain…

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I had missed the Sam’s tour because I woke up about 20 minutes before it was to start, so I was kinda bummed that that happened. However I met the other interns at the Technology Center around 9:30am. We were ushered through the security entrance, past an endless room of atypical cubicles. On one half of the building on the main floor the cubicles were just long stretches of desks – not individualized per employee. On the other half were typical cubicles. If you forgot to grab your morning coffee before heading to work, no worries, there’s a damn Starbucks inside, alongside a Chick-fil-A. In a back corner there is a special meeting room with all of the coolest technology on the market available at the drop of a hat. A 3D printer, 4K TV monitor, virtual reality, holographic machines, you name it.

The third floor was the neatest thing in the building. There was a relatively large room with rows of computers locked behind a wall with a biometric entrance and special tinted windows that can be frosted over like a lightswitch. This room is responsible for tackling Walmart hackers – all 2 billions attacks they receive daily. Adjacent to this room is a special room you would see in a Mission Impossible movie – an extraction room. One that is lined with microscopes, lab coats, other scientific equipment, surrounding a vacuum sealed room they have to use to recover information from seemly impossible situations. I was too perplexed by this and confused why this was necessary, but once Tyler explained through the purpose, it made sense.

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We drove about 10 minutes away to continue onto Walmart HQ. We met with a representative to give our tour and we were on our way, or so we thought. We had to sign in and show our IDs. Because I was not told to bring my ID I had to wait with the other interns that did not have IDs to be vouched by an employee. THEN we were on our way. We walked past another Starbucks (shocker), past many small closet-like rooms that are used for visiting vendors to convince and sell Walmart representatives their product(s), past the giant auditorium with a history of well-known speakers like Oprah, John Mellencamp, some Presidents to name a few. In addition to a plethora of mother’s rooms lining the hallways, there was a food court with different options. We went up a floor to walk past the cubicles and office spaces, up a floor to the open space in attempts to provide creative creating spaces, with standing desks tucked in an arm of the space.

The tour of the offices went quickly. But we were more excited about the food tasting portion in the culinary center. Every day Monday-Thursday the culinary center hosts two different sessions of taste testing food products. We were special being there on a Friday, and we got to try out two different varieties of grapes, fried chicken, and an udon soup. The space we were testing in were individual slots with a monitor above a turnstile to the kitchen where your samples magically appeared. The survey flashed on the monitor with various questions about flavor, different qualities of the food, etc.

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We then toured the rest of the culinary and innovation center. It hosts 8 full kitchens for vendors to prepare and present their products to representatives, a lab for household items, and a kitchen for the taste testing lab.

Before lunch, Sara and I had our 1:1 by phone to catch up and share my progress. Some of the interns and I met at Chick-fil-A after our tour to mull over chicken sandwiches about our morning and laugh about some of our CB experiences.

July 8 (3-11pm)

Our performers for this Chihuly Saturday Night were Rebekah Swicegood on harp and her mother accompanying her on flute, and Naturally Brass. Having Holly, our senior youth and family educator, there was great because all of the pressure of being event leader was slightly alleviated. However, these events have become such second nature to me and I feel comfortable walking into the Forest every week.

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The atmosphere felt a little older than other CSNs, which required Holly and I to coordinate the shuttle to pick up guests closer than usual because they felt they could not make it out to the spot they are to meet at. Overall, the evening went well with just a couple of complaints/suggestions.

July 12 (12-7pm)

I opened my day with the first intern lunch ‘n learn I could make in awhile. The speakers were with the communications team, engagement team, and preparation team. After walking back to the office Sara and I met with two representatives from a lighting event company that would be supplementing the upcoming Summer Fling party and Light Night party. We did a walkthrough of the Fly’s Eye Dome space (still closed to the public) and Buckyball. At that point I had gotten my day’s steps in, so Sara and I rode back in the shuttle.

I tried to get more work done on the program briefs, but not much could be done in the time between doing very small tasks in the office and the other walkthrough for the Light Night party with many staff members. Mother Nature had no mercy that day with a blistering heat index of 100 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. By the end of the day I had spent about 2 hours in the sun. To be honest, the walkthrough we had that day could have been condensed down to a diagram in a document shared amongst everyone, and an actual walkthrough for not another 2 weeks or so. I thought it was not necessary to have everyone just share what they thought everything should look like and arguing why one thing was in one place over another.

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Oh well.

July 13 (2-9pm)

Sara and I had our 1:1 meeting where we finalized all of the tasks and projects I had yet to do, scheduled the rest of the work days of my internship, and a small chat about what my future goals were for short term and long term. It being a Thursday, we had our weekly hour and a half long public programs team meeting to discuss program briefs, the events planned out for the next exhibition, Soul of a Nation, and to finalize the layout for upcoming Chihuly Saturday Nights and other upcoming events.

I did my weekly work with contacting the week’s CSN performers, staff working the event, and rewriting the timeline before helping out with Moira’s outdoor gallery talk. This was my first gallery talk I had attended because they were primarily Moira’s responsibility and me being Sara’s intern I just had yet to attend one of Moira’s events.

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Moira focused on two pieces, Kim Dickey’s Mille-fleur and Chihuly’s Niijima Floats. We had about a dozen guests follow along to listen and ask questions that Moira posed. She gave just enough information that leaves a listener wanting to ask more about biographical information, the title, medium, colors, etc. She introduced the inspiration as a weaving piece from the (17th c. -?) Dutch that had an intricate floral patterned background and a unicorn enclosed in a fence. That was something I learned and thought was really cool. We approached the work from different distances to explore the colors and interactions of the individual ceramic pieces.

For Niijima Floats we focused on colors, sizes, and interactions they have being in a pond surrounded by frogs, fish, and the other floats. We also changed perspectives by walking alongside the pond on the trail to get closer to the floats and view them with a different idea of they interact between each other. I appreciated just listening and reflecting on my responses to the questions than facilitating or actively working for the event.

July 14 (2-9:30pm)

With another evening event, I did not come in until 2pm – yay – so I had about 2 hours to wrap up the program briefs. I got most of the legwork done, so that leaves the finishing touches to be presentable to Rod and Alice for review. Starting around 4pm Tyler and I began our work to set out the stanchions and signs for the event. The event was one of our Distinguished Speakers’ series events that hosted the Netflix series, Chef’s Table‘s creators David Gelb (director of Jiro Dreams of Sushi) and Brian McGinn (director of Netflix’s Amanda Knox). 

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With the event being sold out at 500, we had to be prepared to ticket scan, greet, and usher guests as quickly and efficiently as possible. Although there is always a small no-show percentage for all events, we were still expecting to full to capacity. The Great Hall is only allowed to hold 450 people, but we squeezed more people than that. The event started a little after 7pm, a lecture more of a discussion between David and Brian that were dictated by a Powerpoint riddled with clips from the show of course. There was laughter, gawking eyes over the food porn, and curious minds jealous by the extraordinary meals they two had consumed.

I highly enjoyed the event and thankful that I was out of the museum by 9pm after packing up chairs, moving stanchions and cleaning up the Great Hall.

July 15 (11-6:30pm)

Today was an artinfusion excursion out to Red Fern Glass in the Ozarks. I met Sara in Springdale at a grocery store to carpool down to the area. I helped load in all the groceries for the grillout later. The drive was a little over an hour long out to the Ozarks, the closest town being Osage, AR. I had more moments without a cell signal than with. We tied balloons along the roads to signify to guests that they were going the correct way, with GPS being completely useless.

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The home and studio belongs to Ed Pennebaker, the most known glass artist in Arkansas. All of the grounds are sprinkled everywhere with various sizes of pieces he created with anything from a small ornament in a tree to the elaborate chandelier hanging above the outdoor deck. Ed’s wife, Carol, helped us out and very welcoming to us with food setup. We were grilling burgers and brats, chips, veggies, fruit, and beer of course. We had 26 members sign up for the event so we were expecting anywhere from 10-15 people.

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After a quick walkthrough of the event/tour, I stood at the end of the driveway to greet guests and direct where they should park. Once we had all 20 guests on the deck eating away, we began with introductions. We began in the living room and talked briefly about Ed’s biography and beginnings as an artist. Then we walked down to the studio to discuss the process of making glass, talking through the process of glassblowing, the equipment, and an idea of how much time it takes to do it all. After that we moved into the finishing room where Ed demonstrated changing the color of the tips of some pieces.

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The final thing that most of the guests really enjoyed was helping assemble a chandelier. With some guidance from Ed we fashioned the final product for Ed to ship out. A couple of guests were interested in buying some pieces, and were asking questions about specific projects, so that was good to hear. The event had officially ended, but a handful of guests stuck around to finish a beer and just have a lovely conversation about art.

The intention of artinfusion is to provide social and professional networking with young adults centered around art, so this excursion was a great hands-on opportunity to be the epitome of artinfusion. I fit right in because the target audience is 21-40.

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After clean-up, we headed out of the Ozarks and back to town. If I were ever to live in Northwest Arkansas I would be an artinfusion member, hands-down.

July 16

All I did today was binge watch Games of Thrones in anticipation of the season 7 premiere which I HIGHLY enjoyed. I felt so happy to be caught up with the rest of the world and could freely discuss GoT with anyone else.

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July 17

I spent my day catching up on sleep, rewatching Game of Thrones, and writing this blog and my one about Memphis.

Have a great week, everyone!