Category Archives: Schwartz Athenaeum

#Schwartzventure

The second series post and already I’ve had to change up my tag, that’s because this adventure was of a particularly special sort, one with my family. With a growing number of us it gets harder and harder to coordinate things. I missed out on most of our family vacations as a kid because I was the baby of the family and was either too young to go, or the other siblings got too old or busy for us to have one. Womp womp. But, as adults, we’re bringing back family vacations! This is will be fun because now that we are older we can get away with so much more. 

Schwartzventure

August 23, 2014

Making it Up as We Go

Mom had a lovely trip planned for us. We were to go to Chestnut Mountain in Galena, Illinois and ride either the Alpine slide or chairlift down the Mississippi River valley to the water, then enjoy a beautiful 1.5 hour river cruise via pontoon seeing the sites. What we ended up with was a beautifully rainy foggy day. Upon arriving to Chestnut, Dad and I volunteered to run the couple of hundred yards to the office in the pouring rain to see what the plan was. Would we go or would it be cancelled and we’d have to come up with something else for 12 people and an adorable little baby to do? They sent us back running through the rain to the hotel office where we gladly accepted a refund. The goal was to run back (remember it’s pouring rain) to the vans and game plan from there. Dad goes to the “boys” van and I run to the “girls” van to find that it’s nowhere in sight. They left me, standing in the pouring rain, slippery flip flops in hand. Turns out they had pulled up to the front door so Kim could use the restroom and neglected to notify me as I sprinted by, falling out of my flip flops, that they had moved. Lovely. Thank you. Bonus epiphany from the drive, we can now plug a crockpot into Mom’s car, #DrivingWithMeatballs. Also, our new road trip mantra, “Will stop for all balloons!” (denoting parties at places we weren’t invited to) especially when they are red, yellow, and blue. #PrimaryColorParty

Gloom

I guess this means our picnic in the park is also rained out? It’s okay, we’ll improvise. We decided an indoor activity would be best for the day so we opted for the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque. I love this place but much of our party had never visited. We ended up being able to have a soggy picnic outside their cafe. Mom, of course because she’s always prepared, had a delicious  array of sandwich fixins, chips, desserts, etc.

Picnic

On into our educational experience. Something you should know about my family: if there is a statue, it will be mimicked. Look forward to more of this. This episode starring Jenni and Destiny do pioneer trade. Yes, in the second photo Destiny is playing the canoe. (Really, there may be an entire post coming your way soon of JUST photos of us mimicking statues. It’s a forte for us).  The Museum has many great artifacts (though I hate when text panels don’t include dates!) and a wide variety of types of display. Some dioramas, some interactives, etc.

Statue 1 Statue 2

It’s no secret that I love 4 and 5d theatres. Marco and I went to one in Illinois once where I actually thought I was going to crash in an airplane and that bees were flying at me. EEEEK! We opted for the full experience package which included two short movies, unfortunately they weren’t  about turtles and sharks like the website said they were going to be. We got stuck with Spongebob Squarepants (loathe) and Planet Earth which I actually like. It was pretty tame but offered a wonderful opportunity for a full fam photo. Of all children in the movie, ours included, I daresay my 30 year-old brother Matt was the most ill-behaved of everybody. Typical.

Theatre

Probably my favorite photo of the day. Grandma and Gramps relaxing with Allie while the adult boys play in the water exhibits.

HatBaby

The rain let up and we were able to go wander around the outside parts of the complex,  in which I was almost tackled into the Bald Eagles’ water pool. Can you spot the eagle?

EagleTackleOutside

Have I ever mentioned how beautiful I think nature is and the colors that occur there. The picture below is beautiful and all it is is algae. Who’d have thunk it?

Algae

I haven’t been on many really ships in my life, boats sure, but not ships. At the museum you can actually tour through a historic dredge boat and see the cabins, engines, etc. Ship ahoy matey!

ShipAhoyHave I mentioned we all got to spend the day with this lil’ peanut?

Allie

As much as I don’t like zoos and aquariums, as long as the animals are well-cared for it’s hard to complain about getting to see amazing animals close up you otherwise wouldn’t get to. Turtle TURTLE! Who wore it best?

TurtleTurtle Me

Clearly it was me…

We spent a lot of time walking through a Mark Twain inspired exhibition and a Civil War one called the Battle for the Mississippi, in which I have the opportunity to take a selfie with Abe Lincoln.

Abe

After an amazing, interesting, and educational day it was time for dinner. There will never be a Schwartventure without the presence of so much food. My Mom and Dad (who are the best by the way) have been together forever, I mean since my mom was 13. As kids they used to go to a  pizza place in Savannah, Illinois called Manny’s. Like them, we grew up eating at this restaurant and it is THE BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD. Seriously, go there, eat it, and just TRY and prove me otherwise. Disclaimer: all competing pizzas to be purchased by the challenger.

Pizza

The “girls” van had a very successful detour after dinner to the lookout point at Palisades Park just outside of Savannah. Beautiful!

Palisades

Lil Miss Allie Rose will be turning one on September 6th, so we decided to have a practice birthday cake smash party for her. But, let’s be honest, nerf balls are far more delicious than homemade cake.

NerfCake

Last but not least, after a wonderful family weekend, I leave you with a little piece of zen from the weekend. I currently hold the household record for rock stacking at 13.

Rocks

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Family History Library Extravaganza

For a month that had no plans, March has become quite the adventure:

A 70s themed Grammy party,

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a trip to Utah,

20140307_125021seeing Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band,

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tomorrow a trip to Philadelphia and then on to New Jersey for the weekend.  Oofta. I’m only half way through the month but I daresay that my trip to the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, Utah is probably one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. I just wish I had been better prepared.

I was actually in Utah to visit the family I nannied for while I lived out in New Jersey. It has kind of become a thing that I vacation with them each year so that we get a chance to see each other. We went to the Canyons Resort in Park City with plans to spend the time dining, snowboarding, zip lining, and more but when I found out how to close to Salt Lake City I was going to be, I knew I should plan at least one day to work on genealogy at the Library.ZipLine

The FHL is the largest genealogy hub I have ever heard of and I could easily spend three weeks there full time and still not be finished doing everything that I would like.  Their collection includes over 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed  records; 727,000 microfiche; 356,000 books and serials; over 4,500 periodicals and 3,725 electronic resources. It is absolutely astounding. There is practically a whole floor JUST for Germany!

I was greeted by several very friendly Sisters who helped me to figure out where I might even want to start. Do I go to England where my family just falls off with an apparent baby born out-of-wedlock? Do I go to Ireland where I have almost no information after my great-grandparents? Do I start in Germany where I have a lot of names and dates to work with? Choosing Germany, I searched a couple of branches that come from an island off the north of the country called Fehmarn. A German-speaking volunteer (thank goodness) came to my aide in finding the parish my family went to in Oldenburg and helped me figure out which microfiche I needed. THERE IS NOT ENOUGH TIME IN A DAY! I could have spent weeks just on that floor but instead I obtained five copies of marriage records and moved on, wanting to spend some time on other floors in other countries. One record dates back to 1777 with my fifth great-grandfather Peter Wacker. I can’t even believe I have a copy of that record. Major nerd.

PeterWackerMarriage1777

Next, I moved on to the United Kingdom hoping to start with Ireland. After finding out about how difficult Ireland can be because of a lack of records, the library’s lack of copies of them, etc. I chose to move right on to England. Another road block. OF COURSE most of the English family came from Bloxhom, Oxfordshire  and as the Library has only ONE copy of those parish records, they are kept in a granite vault out in a mountain some where. Yes, you read that correctly, a GRANITE vault INSIDE a MOUNTAIN. Intriguing. It would have taken them a day or two to bring them in for me to look at. It looks like I’m going to be making a better (more organized) trip back to Salt Lake City.

If you are interested in genealogy just go there. It is so worth the trip and I’m warning you to be prepared! See their website here to begin figuring out what you’ll want to look at while you’re there.

This post should have happened last week, but instead it’s happening today when I already have a million other things I’d like to write about. Today is the first day of the Legal Issues in Museum Administration Conference in Philadelphia and conferences always get me fired up about everything museum. Expect a barrage of posts in the next couple of weeks. But, if this post just wasn’t enough of me for you tonight, in honor of our evening reception being held at the Barnes Foundation, you can read my rant about how displeased with that place I am.


So, I’ve been thinking

So, I’ve been thinking.  I’m a very passionate, opinionated, and outspoken person, so this is always a dangerous thing. I often think, “I should blog about that…” but in reality they wouldn’t be very long posts. They’re over a tweet (140 characters) but under a post size. Recent topics include:

1. Sometimes I get really annoyed when I go into a restaurant and spend good money on a dish I could easily have done much better. Is there a benefit to not having to put the time into cooking and clean-up? Sure, but not when the dish is a fraction as delicious as I could have done for a fraction of the price. My crepes are better than your crepes.

20140125_1015372. NPR/IPR – I generally dislike the news because it’s depressing. However, I listen to public radio every morning on the way to work (at least until my reception goes out) to make sure that I’m not totally removed from the world. Politics and current issues get me super fired up. Most recently, re-sentencing for minors. Don’t even get me started. Furious.

3. I hope I’m a gorgeous amazing old(er) lady some day. Examples: my grandmothers, Maggie Smith, Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Jane Seymour, etc. I figure I have an ok shot at aging well?

Though these all seem like dismal, pessimistic things (ok, maybe not #3). I’ve also been thinking a lot lately about how lucky I am and how thankful I am for each and every day. I get to call my grandmothers (91 and 93) whenever I want, I have a family I can depend on, I’ve done some traveling, I have two degrees and am debt free, etc. I really SHOULDN’T complain at all.

Recently, somebody I would consider a dear friend in Boone, passed away. Yes, I’ve only been in Boone about a year and a half, and to be honest had only seen Dwain a handful of times but I would consider him one of my biggest fans. The first time I met him was when he came in to talk to me about planned giving and some collectible items he was considering giving to the Society upon his passing. The very first thing he said to me, “Has anybody ever told you you have the most beautiful smile?” Now, my guess is this was one of his common compliments, but it is one I get a lot. I think it’s because I have big teeth.

The point is that Dwain was always smiling, only ever had compliments to give, and within a short time of meeting me became a huge advocate and supporter of my museums. His passing was unexpected and he was by no means old, so it came as a big shock to me when I overheard somebody mention his funeral. It’s very easy to get caught up in the day to day scramble and stress that is my life, but it’s at those times I need to remember the people who are, and have been, in my life that are/were always wearing a smile for me. I need to be rosier.

Though I’ve been blessed to have many of these people in my life, there are two people who almost daily come into my mind, reminding me to live to the fullest, to take advantage of my talents, to seek opportunity, and to love (and be vocally thankful for) those close to me.

Jim, who is the real reason I found my love of museums and is (one) of the people who pushed me as an artist. When I was just in high school, he was my bus driver, and unbeknownst to be at the time a phenomenal artist. He invited me to create a mural (and later another) with him for the school board meeting room. This is how I found myself at the local historical society, losing myself in historic photos of my little blue collar hometown. His support, and early interest in my development as a person and artist, has shaped my now 12 year career in museums. Also, he taught me never to settle, in both my professional and personal life, especially as I grew older. Though you’re gone Jim, your sound advice is still with me.20140114_183348

My Grandpa Taplin, the closest friend I ever had, passed when I was in 6th grade and there isn’t a day that goes by I don’t think about him. As a child I thought he was the kindest, most understanding, and sweet man in the entire universe. I believed he could talk to animals and make flowers grow, ahhh… the innocence that is childhood. Even so close to his passing, he found the strength to try and sit up and play one last game of Canasta with us. In honor of him I will never eat tomato soup with anything but a big spoon. I hope someday I can be as kind and caring as he was, and to experience a love like he and my grandmother had, always adorable and always so sincere. I am proud that my niece carries their names, Allie Rose. I have a feeling she will live up to filling some very  big shoes.

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This post is definitely more for me than for my readers, but, as I said I’ve been thinking. Occasionally, I like to put it all down. I’ve been lucky to have a lot of truly wonderful people in my life and I hope to meet many more. Some days when things are tough, be it work, my personal life, smashing my poor car up, etc. I just need to remember (and you should too) that life is wonderful, I’m healthy, and there are much bigger things ahead.


Illuminating the Barnes – Friend or Faux?

I have now spent countless hours (thanks to Steve Miller,a mentor and dear friend’s e-mails and the clickable nature of the internet) reading reviews about the “new Barnes Foundation“. People seem to like it or they don’t. I am of the latter group. For a VERY brief review of the history of the Barnes you can read my last post. What makes the Barnes so unique are the seemingly (though they are not) random ensembles of master paintings, metal work, and furniture. Below is an example of one of Barnes’ ensembles, image from The Barnes Foundation Collection Gallery Guide I.

As I know not all of my readers are museum or legal professionals, I want to begin by explaining a little bit about the Indenture of Trust which Barnes created for his Foundation. The Indenture of Trust, along with the Bylaws, set forth the Foundation’s purposes, rules of governance, Board structure, etc. The Indenture included the following condition verbatim, “[a]ll paintings shall remain in exactly the places the are at the time of the death of Donor and his said wife.” (Information taken from the Fact Sheet I received at the May 10th press preview.) Pretty straight forward. BUT, just as Barnes had so much money he could buy many of the world’s most renowned paintings and hang them as he wished, the current Board and its funding corporations had enough money ($200,000,000) to ignore the Indenture and do as they wished for their own interests. Indenture denied.

First and foremost I find it ridiculous to let a group of corporations and private foundations pay for something that they did not fundamentally support in its original 12,000 sq. ft.  location, but if they can move it into Philadelphia and smatter their names all over it, sure they can spare a few million each. A mere 6 miles from its original home, the “Barnes in Philadelphia” touts the names of the Mellons, the Annenbergs, and corporate moguls such as PNC and Comcast. The building itself, a 93,000 sq. ft. bunker like block of hand-tooled Negev limestone, fitted on top with an as equally unappealing glass box, is home to the new faux Barnes. Several of the articles/reviews I read pointed out that what was once a structure dedicated to authenticity, where making copies of the art was strictly forbidden, a mere copy of the original exists; never to be the authentic historic Barnes again.

It’s hard to even know where to start, the new Barnes decimates almost everything the founder ever wanted for his carefully created collection.

Cut and dried, the issues with the new location:

  1. He wanted to keep his prized masterpieces out of Philadelphia and away from the likes of what Barnes referred to as “aesthetic whorehouses of art,” e.g. The Philadelphia Museum of Art.
  2. He wanted to remain an educational center with an amazing art collection instead of an art museum with art courses.
  3. He wished to maintain the integrity of his collection by keeping it housed within the 1922 historical gem designed by Paul Cret.
  4. I highly doubt he would appreciate having one of the largest areas in the structure named after Annenberg, somebody who during his life he experienced an extreme distaste for.

    ‘The Light Court’ which bears the Annenberg name.

  5. Two classrooms have been inserted within the galleries for teaching. Barnes strongly believed the galleries were the classrooms and that all education should happen while surrounded by the artworks themselves.
  6. Matisse’s The Joy of Life has been removed from its location in the stairwell to a room in the floor plan that was originally used for Board meetings.

The Joy of Life, no longer in the stairwell.

Barnes created a masterpiece in his own right, separate from the stigma that is the white-walled, singularly hung art gallery of today.The Foundation’s 23 galleries provided a maze of aesthetic pleasure and study, a maze which is now dis-harmoniously interrupted by limestone and glass hallways with a view of the “garden in the gallery”. Other than this change in the gallery layout, most everything remains the same; the galleries are the same size, masterpieces and metal works hung the same. Minor changes have been made in the molding, window frames, windows and in the heights of the galleries to allow for clerestory lighting on the second floor.  So, all this trouble to exactly replicate the galleries and only gain a little bit of lighting? Why not enhance the original Barnes?

And, what is all of this about INCREASED ACCESSIBILITY? Gallery visitation is still being limited to 150 visitors at a time in the main galleries and there are only an additional 30 parking spaces provided. More so, the Barnes originated as an educational tool for “the common man”. What common man will be able to easily afford a date out with his family at $18 a head? For college students that’s at least three meals (or a WHOLE LOT of Ramen) they will be sacrificing for just one day’s entrance into the new Barnes.

Now I can’t  blame Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects for my not having a taste for modern architecture. A more in depth slideshow of the building is available at Philly.com. I also do not understand the randomness that is the “Barnes Totem” by Ellsworth Kelly at the entrance to the property. It appears to be a 40 ft. high stainless steel lightning rod shooting up from the ground and in no way visibly pays homage to the man who made the place possible. What ever happened to a good bronze likeness? However, during the press preview I fortunately had the opportunity of meeting, speaking, and touring with the architects, including landscape designer OLIN, around the building.  Though I don’t agree with the project, and don’t particularly enjoy the architecture, I appreciated many of the things they had to say about working on the project.

The exterior of the Barnes and the ‘Barnes Totem’.

Me and architects Billie Tsien and Tod Williams

Interesting notes from the architects:

  1. They do not consider themselves to be ‘starchitects’, the architects who do whatever they wish with a building so that it screams their name. They felt they were there simply to interpret the Barnes and the visions of the Board.
  2. A common question asked by many is the obvious why didn’t they expand the galleries, make them bigger and brighter? Williams explained with an interesting analogy, that if a face gets fatter, the features (e.g. eyes, mouth, lips, etc) do not also grow but stay the same size. So you end up with a tiny little face within a big fat head.  Even if the gallery were to be expanded the artworks do not grow, and in order to be hung similarly you would end up with too much random open space.
  3. The architects REALLY enjoy being able to do everything with extreme exactitude, just like Barnes… So much that they even talked the Barnes into taking them over to Jerusalem to pick out the limestone for the building. I wonder why they didn’t choose the Indiana limestone? Regardless, it is beautiful and is presented in three distinct, hand-tooled patterns of varying colors, including a cuneiform pattern which resembles writing.

    Hand-tooled cuneiform Negev limestone.

  4. In addition to the aforementioned point, the architects were able to emphasize one level of quality; the bathrooms are the same as the galleries. Indeed, at least for the women each stall is actually like its own little suite with an individual sink and mirror. I daresay that if they would have built standard, yet elegant restrooms, they could have almost endowed a fellow small museum.
  5. I asked what the architects felt their biggest challenge was in completing the project. Due to the controversial nature of the project, Billie Tsien answered that she was entirely unaware of how many extremely vituperative people there are in the world who lashed out at them for having taken the project. Tsien mentioned, however, that the organization (the Board of the Barnes) protected them as best they could.

Though I in no way support the move of the Barnes, I greatly enjoyed my trip and the opportunity to attend the press preview, compliments of one Steven Miller. Look for his upcoming article in Museum Magazine, published by AAM.  Though we agree to disagree about the Barnes, I’m sure you’ll find his article witty and optimistic about the future of the Barnes.  He much less grouchy than I. Side note: I send a BIG thank you his way for his continued efforts in stowing me away to events I would otherwise be unable to attend, for his witicisms, and his continuing support.

Enjoying the Barnes Foundation.

In conclusion, I feel we have lost an important piece of American history. Philadelphians. and citizens of Merion, should be disappointed in themselves as they, especially, have allowed an important story in their ancestry to be permanently deleted; the story of industry and the uprising of art appreciation in Philly, now encased within a limestone and glass box mausoleum.


The Barnes Foundation – In Original Review

I wrote the following blog post more than a year ago. There is no good reason why I never posted it, but now there is an excellent purpose for me to post it.  The following post is one I wrote in January 2011, following a visit to The Barnes Foundation in Merion, PA. Yesterday, I had the honor of attending the press preview of the NEW Barnes Foundation, relocated and entirely refurbished on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. More on Thursday’s experience in my next post, but for now, I’d like to share my original and unaltered post to provide a comparison for my thoughts on yesterday’s visit.

Today a friend and I took a couple hour drive to Merion, PA to visit the Barnes Foundation. For those of you outside the field, built and designed by Dr. Albert C. Barnes, the Foundation houses an amazing collection of paintings and decor.  The travesty is that the board has decided to completely uproot the principles and setting of this art and move it into a modern building in Philly. After discussing the case in several of my classes, with multiple professors, I am still gravely against the move for several reasons.

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The BF case is littered with ethical and legal issues.  A history of corruption, selfishness and politicking are amongst the many reasons why the Barnes is failing today.  Perhaps it was partially poor foresight on the part of the creator, but the majority of the destruction was committed by its very own board members.  At the time of Barnes’ death in 1951, though much had already happened, the battle of the Barnes had just begun. The current board of trustees now has hopes of wiping out the indenture all together, removing all wishes Barnes originally had for his carefully built collection.

This wonderful historic site is being wrenched from its home in Lower Merion Township and moved into the city Barnes so greatly insisted on staying out of, in order to “save” the organization.  Billions of dollars have been given by Foundations and companies to move the Barnes, companies who are not willing to give in order to save the Barnes in its current location.  A new building, unlike the collection’s original home in Merion, will house the collection along with several additional features.

These things aside, the BF contains an astounding collection conservatively valued at over $6 billion and boasts more than 180 Renoirs, 69 Cezannes, 60 Matisses, 44 Picassos, 18 Rousseaus and 14 Modiglianis. Each room was designed and arranged in a very specific manner by Barnes. Metal works including keys, hinges, clasps etc. adorn the walls amongst the paintings and drawings. Intended as an educational tool, students are meant to be taught within the galleries about appreciating art and understanding aesthetics and design.

A big disappointment of the day was that they had the second floor galleries closed to the public, unbeknownst to us before arriving. Secondly, the staff at the Barnes seem to go out of their way to make the place unwelcoming. I wonder if in a new location staff will be taught to smile.

What wasn’t at all disappointing on Mallary and my’s trip to Philly? An authentic cheesesteak covered in cheez whiz at Geno’s!

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University of Northern Iowa – A Declining Institution

I never thought I would have to be disappointed in my alma mater.  Typically people brag about where they came from, from where they received their education. Not me, not anymore.

Effective June 30, 2012 The University of Northern Iowa will be closing the doors to its 120 year old museum.  This is truly a disappointment you can read about at this site.   The university is administering budget cuts to the museum, printing services, and athletics.  Athletics looks to receive a slash of $500,000 and the $200,000 cut to the museums will close their doors permanently. Hmmm… with those amounts you can certainly see where the school lay its priorities in the first place.

Students enjoying the UNI Museums, image borrowed from UNI Museums website

Thousands upon thousands of people use the museum for educational purposes each year.  Not only that, students who research and intern at the museum have lost this opportunity.  The school is taking this wonderful resource away from its students, its classes and its community. The museum is an accredited institution and recognized for its value and excellence by the American Association of Museums.  This small museum has pulled in exhibitions of amazing magnitude from places like The Smithsonian Institution and The Field Museum. But folks, don’t be sad… you can still go watch us loose a game every once in a while.

I interned with the museum for two years while at UNI, as with many other students, and it has been an invaluable resource in my career.  That museum led me to where I am today; receiving my Master of Arts in Museum Professions.  Maybe some people don’t get it.  See below the mission statements of these three entities.

Excerpt from The University of Northern Iowa’s mission statement:

It is imperative that the quality of the university’s instruction be maintained and enhanced though increasingly strong emphasis on:

(1) General or liberal education as the most essential ingredient for the undergraduate student,

(2) the central importance and complementary relationship of teaching and research,

(3) enrichment of instruction through extensive clinical, laboratory and field experiences, and independent study, and

(4) development of the life of the university community itself as an effective educational force.

Excerpt from the University of Northern Iowa Museums’ mission statement:

The University of Northern Iowa Museums & Collections contribute to the education, research, and public service missions of the University through educational programming, exhibition, collection, and preservation.

For the campus and general public, the Museums foster lifelong learning and the exchange of ideas, as well as a respect for our natural resources and the human heritage of the world.

Lastly, an excerpt from The University of Northern Iowa Athletics mission statement:

We will offer compelling experience for the student-athlete and for our campus community and will provide a diverse environment steeped in integrity, values and vitality. We are committed to equitable opportunities for all students, student-athletes and athletic department staff including women and minorities. Our programming offerings, our recruitment of both students and staff, and our career enhancement opportunities for staff will reflect this commitment to equity and diversity. Further, we are totally committed to the NCAA principles of sportsmanship and ethical conduct and nothing short of complete and total adherence to the principles and guidelines subscribed to by the NCAA in these critical areas will be tolerated or accepted.

Teaching is our core, positive growth and development of student-athletes is our goal and the highest level of performance both in the classroom, in social settings, and on the field of play is our target outcome.

Whose mission statements most closely align?  Sports are even MENTIONED in the mission of the university. Where should cuts really be being made? You mean to tell me that UNI will FUND 15 university sports team, but it won’t fund a 120 year old educational institution that benefits both its students and community?  The athletics’ mission states teaching is their core, but what do you learn from throwing a ball in a hoop? What do other students learn from watching you do that?  Leave it to an EDUCATIONAL ENTITY to cut funding to another educational entity in order to save one based on ENTERTAINMENT.  Don’t assume I was a museum geek in school and that’s why I’m bitter about athletics. That’s not the case, I played sports in college and I loved every minute of it. BUT, it DID NOT contribute to my future.  I couldn’t help but laugh at this quote in an article I read about the athletic department’s cuts:

“This time, much of the pain is going to be internal. We might have to hold off on new uniforms and equipment. We might have to eliminate some positions, though not coaching in year one.” as stated by athletic director Troy Dannen.

FOR SHAME! How DARE the University reduce your budget to $3.5 million so you can’t get new uniforms every year. How DARE you not have the latest in basketballer trend.

But, there is one thing Dannen was right about, the pain for UNI is going to be internal.  That pain will be felt by every student, every faculty, staff and community member who rely on the museum as an educational tool.

The University Museum, image borrowed from UNI Museums website

I am truly disappointed in UNI and how it has decided upon its priorities. Athletics as a priority over education has always been in issue in America, I just never thought that poor decision would be made by someplace I was once so proud as to call my home.


Swallowed up in Museums

It has been a busy semester…err semester and a half. I seem to have disappeared, being swallowed up by life, immediately after the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums Annual Meeting. Much has happened, most everything EXCELLENT!

Last September, for  my course ‘Creating an Exhibition’, we had the opening of an exhibition I co-curated with a fellow classmate, “The Way, The Truth, The Life: Sacred artifacts from Seton Hall’s Collections.” Below is a  picture taken at the opening. You can expect a full blog post (and more pictures) on this experience soon!

For those of you who read my last post about strategizing museum internships, you know how interested I am in the subject of internships within the museum field. Speaking at this conference, and subsequent conversations to it has inspired me to craft my thesis about professional guidelines and best practices in creating and/or improving museum internship programs. In brief, my thesis will contain three sections:

  1. The first section of this thesis seeks to define the term internship and to differentiate it from volunteer and paid professional positions. It also categorizes internships in a number of types relevant to the museum field.
  2. The second section is a guide for museums hoping to create and/or improve an internship program within their institution and will provide a template and examples of how to begin a formal program for graduate and/or recently post-graduate students, based on materials gathered from several museums and academic institutions.
  3. The third section is a guide for students searching for an internship that will give them the type of experience that will qualify them for their career ahead and shares tips and tricks on finding the right internship, applying for it and then interviewing the institution to make sure it is the best possible fit for them.

Upon completion of this thesis I hope to launch a website I have been working on to make my thesis/guide available to museums, for free, across the world.  I hope that it will empower museums (especially smaller institutions) to create effective and valuable internship programs.  I also hope to host on this site an ongoing internship listing, free to all museums, students, and museum professionals. If any readers, museum professionals, internship coordinators at museums or universities have thoughts please feel free to contact me.

"Urban Owl" By Tricia Zimic

Though you may not believe it, I have many other things going on in life besides my thesis (okay, not TOO much, but some things).  I am currently working for a wonderful artist, Tricia Zimic, as her promoter, graphic/web designer, and all-out assistant.  My latest project though is attempting to independently curate a show including her work, as well as several other artists alike in theme.  Wish me luck, this is really my first time as an “independent” curator. Any advice is welcome.

Just last week I finally secured an internship. Internship AND Thesis in one semester you ask? That’s right! That’s what I get for working too many hours at paid jobs and not spending enough time getting an unpaid one in a museum! Story of the emerging museum professionals’ life.  My internship will be doing a sort of exhibition research and design at the Montclair Historical Society.  You all know my love of all things historical society AND historic house museum.  I’ll be keeping a journal for this internship, so you can expect more regular blog updates (I hope!).

Next week I am lucky enough to have been asked by the couple I nanny for to go to Aspen, CO for nine days, all expenses paid, in return for watching their two lovely little girls for only a portion of the trip.  How can one pass up such an opportunity? My plan, some babysitting, some tanning, lots of snow-shoeing (I’m not a particularly adept skier), and even MORE time sitting fireside working on my thesis.  Is it weird that I am looking forward to my vacation to have quiet-time to do my homework?

Annnnddddddd………….because blog posts without pictures are BOR-ING, here is one of my favorite pictures from my wonderful time spent at home in Iowa for Christmas. My adorable nephew Easton!