Hello! My name is Abigale Collins. If you’ve read the blog before, you may remember some posts from me last year. A lot has changed for me since then! Last year, I was pursuing a BFA in Painting + Drawing and worked in museum education. This year, I’m majoring in Communication Studies and my role at the Kennedy Museum of Art is the Assistant Museum Registrar.
I’ve been at Ohio University since Fall of 2015 and have struggled a lot to find what’s best for me. This is my third major. I used to think I wanted to be a video editor. Then I thought I wanted to write and illustrate comic books, hence becoming a studio art major. Then I went on a study abroad trip to London, England where all of our classes took place in museums and I found a new passion. That led me to entering the Museum Studies Certificate Program!
I took classes where we got to curate and create an exhibit at the KMA together. We had to select one of three areas to focus on for the exhibit: exhibition design, education, or stewardship. One of my favorite things about museums is that they foster informal, self-directed learning, which is how I learn best. The idea of learning how museums can do that and helping others get excited about learning seemed perfect for me, so I chose to join the education team in the class. This then led me to applying for and accepting a PACE position as the Academic Programs Assistant the next year.
For the most part, I loved working in education. I loved researching artists and artworks in our exhibits and finding exciting things to share with visitors. I also enjoyed helping design art activities for families to take part in during our Family Art Encounters events. But leading educational tours of the exhibits proved to be really challenging to me. I am very introverted and have some social anxiety, so speaking to large groups of people and trying to engage them was a struggle. But I learned and grew so much from doing it, which I am so grateful for. It gave me more confidence and made me a better public speaker. It taught me about how people think and how they learn best.
It also helped me realize I was far more interested in the behind the scenes work. I wanted to help care for the objects and be more informed about everything in our amazing collection. I found myself thinking back a lot to when we curated objects for our Museum Studies class, and how much I loved touring the special collections of Alden Library and seeing how knowledgeable the staff was about their collection. The thought of organizing collections and organizing a database really thrilled me…nerdy, I know.
At the end of the 2018-19 school year, I accepted another position in education at the KMA for the next school year. But over the summer I was thinking a lot about what I really wanted to do. I was researching graduate schools and careers a lot, and became very interested in pursuing a Master of Library and Information Science degree. But how would I really know if it was right for me if I hadn’t even gotten to try it out yet? My answer came through email one day when I was notified of a new open PACE position at the KMA: the Assistant Museum Registrar. I spoke with my boss in education about it, Sally Delgado, and she gave me her blessing to apply. I got the job and in turn relinquished my place in the education department.
In Fall 2019, I began my job as Assistant Museum Registrar. I was very quickly doing all kinds of different tasks. On day one, I was carving dress forms for use in an upcoming exhibit. Then I was carefully placing dozens of frog figurines in an exhibit, taking stock of Southwest Native American Jewelry, and hanging up framed Judy Chicago prints. But my favorite days have been the days where I am sitting in the vault, surrounded by drawers and drawers of artwork, creating and editing records for them in our database. We create detailed records of every object including information such as a description of the object, an image, its dimensions, the artist, and where it is located in the building. Our major task this year has been transferring old records to a new database and making sure absolutely nothing slips through the cracks.
My favorite thing about my job this year has been getting to become familiar with our collection. Our collection is HUGE. We took a complete inventory at the beginning of the year, which meant we went through every single drawer and shelf and looked at every single print, drawing, photo, painting, ceramic, African mask…you name it. We would then look up the object in the database to make sure its record had the correct information. Through doing this, we found new tasks to be completed, such as taking photos of some objects that did not have any in their record.
In upcoming blog posts from me, I’ll share some pieces from our collection I’ve encountered that I particularly love!
Image caption: Photographing one of artist Murray Stern’s ‘Ladies of the Night’
To read Abigale’s postings on objects from the collection follow her postings on KMA social media @ Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.