Andrea Rosen, M.A. Art History and Museum Studies (G'12)
Curatorial Assistant and Manager of Student Programs
Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME
As part of a small staff of a museum with huge ambitions, my job
seems to evolve and expand constantly, so that what I do now is
vastly different than what I did when I started.
Among the museum’s many functions are a constantly changing cycle of
exhibitions, the care and display of an encyclopedic art collection,
an active program of collaboration with students and faculty, and
serving our local and state community. I have a hand in all of those
things and more.
When I started in the fall of 2012, my duties broke down into three
main categories: 1) scheduling class visits to our print study
classroom, and helping faculty make selections of artworks to show;
2) assisting with administrative duties related to upcoming
exhibitions (e.g. sending loan requests, organizing checklists, et
cetera); and 3) liaising with college student groups.
In each of these areas, I have gradually taken on more and greater
responsibilities. Class visits and other faculty collaborations now
largely fall to my colleague, though often with my support since
it's too big a job for one person. I am now curating my own
exhibition of surrealist photography. I now hire and supervise all
our student employees, and have restarted a dormant student docent
program, training them to give tours.
My colleagues and I always harbor ambitions to expand what we do and
to branch into new areas, like an increasing use of digital media.
With our staff of 13 people that means we all take on more, and I
have to be willing to step into tasks I never expected. For example,
I learned video editing so that I can help produce a series of
All in all, every month, every week, every day of my job is an often
hectic, but totally rewarding, and completely different adventure
from the one before.
Emily Shafer, M.A. History and Museum Studies (G'12)
Collections Maintenance Technician
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA
I am one of four people responsible for cleaning the art on display
in the museum.
While at Tufts, I took Collections Care and Preservation from
Professor Ingrid Neuman who told us that the average museum visitor
leaves behind two hairs and a fingernail. I can now say with
confidence that this is true. That debris ends up in the strangest
places—inside the mouth of a lion sculpture, hanging on an antique
wrought iron bed frame, or resting on carvings at the top of 15 foot
ceilings, to name a few favorite hiding spots for visitor flotsam
and jetsam. At the Gardner, it is particularly important to have a
regular cleaning routine for art on display. Since very few objects
are protected by cases, dirt builds up quickly on the pieces
themselves, making prime breeding grounds for museum pests. Further,
because objects never rotate off display (per Mrs. Gardner's will),
they are constantly subjected to dirt and dust, which can be
damaging if left unchecked.
Collections Maintenance Technicians work when the museum is closed
to the public, since we have to move furniture and set up ladders in
order to access the art. Using HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate
Air) vacuums with hose attachments, we clean each object in the
museum, which range from sculptures to textiles to the frames of
stolen paintings. When cleaning particularly delicate objects, we
hold the vacuums to above the object's surface to remove any lose
dust and dirt. For more stable objects, we use soft paintbrushes to
brush the dirt off the object and into the vacuum. A filter made of
fine mesh screen covers the end of each vacuum hose; this ensures
that fragments that come loose from objects will be caught by the
filter rather than sucked into oblivion. We work through the entire
museum from top to bottom on a rotation schedule that takes
approximately four months to complete.
My favorite part of my job at the Gardner is that I get to interact
so closely with so much incredible art. I'm now much more apt to
find and appreciate the quirky details in art both at the Gardner
and at other museums. Plus, cleaning my apartment is a breeze in
Molly Braswell, M.A. Museum Education (G'12)
Learning and Interpretation Assistant
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME
My duties in the Learning and Interpretation Department fall into
four categories: school tours, docent support, office
administration, and overall museum communication.
I schedule and greet all of the school tours, and I work on creating
policies and procedures for how tours should function for each
exhibit. The job requires a great deal of organization to ensure
that the right school and the right docents show up on the right
day. To make sure that all goes smoothly I work with security, front
desk staff, registrars, curators, and docents.
Working with docents is the favorite part of my job. I schedule the
docents for tours, maintain and update the docent website, and
provide any and all support as needed. I also work with the Homer
Studio Guide program. These guides give tours of the museum’s
recently opened Winslow Homer Studio. I’ve had to learn a lot about
Winslow Homer in order to provide research materials for the guides.
As the department assistant, I often do typical office tasks but
also get the occasional editing and writing assignments. I also
manage my department's budget, keeping track of income and expenses,
approving purchase orders, and serving as a liaison with the
My job of keeping everyone in the museum informed about the
activities of the L&I Department gives me the opportunity to come in
contact with different parts of the museum. I often work with the
Public Relations and Brand Management Departments to come up with
photo opportunities, blog ideas, Facebook post material, etc. The
department assistants meet at least once a month, and it is
rewarding to brainstorm and tap into all of the creative energy
that's here at the museum. I'm constantly amazed by how creative and
smart my co-workers are, so it's fun to get together and share our
The more I get to know the Portland Museum of Art and its goals, the
more I feel I can contribute to things like program development and
interpretation ideas. I have a lot of ideas for my department, and I
am especially interested in working with local universities to boost
our college student attendance.
Update: Life changes prompted a recent move back to her home
state of North Carolina.