guest post: the college museum

It’s Campus Museum Week! Today’s post highlighting the unique challenges and benefits associated with campus museums is brought to you by Cate Bayles. Cate is a graduate student and emerging museum professional hoping to work in education, public programming, and community advocacy. She loves learning about people, collecting blue mason jars, and consuming Swedish fish. This post was originally published at Cate’s blog, Fresh in The Field

cate bayles

Wait, I’m not supposed to eat this? – personal photo courtesy of Cate Bayles.

Think back and remember yourself as a college student. Maybe you had a little bit more hair, maybe less. Maybe you knew exactly what you wanted to do with your life and maybe you had absolutely no idea! I remember myself as passionate and driven, albeit slightly goofy. I recently stumbled upon a New York Times article which examines the roles of campus art museums on college communities and it took me straight back to my first museum studies class. I was 18 and the professor was not my biggest fan – she thought that freshmen were too young to know what they want to do with their life. While my school did not have its own art museum, we did have a wonderfully stocked archive and library facility where I curated my first exhibit. As I grew as a professional, I learned that college museums have the power to play a formative role in the development of young minds.

As the face of education in our nation begins to shift towards a more interdisciplinary, participatory, and technology based learning agenda, where do academic museums stand? Commonly, university museums are seen as being oriented too much towards the art world and not in line with the academy, but an increasing number of art museums are embedding themselves in the curriculum of their host institutions. For two interesting reports on the subject, check out “The Campus Art Museum: A Qualitative Study,” which was published by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation in October and “Campus Art Museums in the 21st Century: A Conversation,” put out by the Cultural Policy Center at the University of Chicago.

When I look back on college – I think of questions. Lots and lots of questions. I questioned everything from what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing to how I fit into the norms of society to what I was going to eat for breakfast! College museums are not only able to link academic courses to cultural ideas, they have the ability to be public spaces where dialogue can take place. They are not only sites of learning, but places of connection, creativity, and inspiration. Here are a group of people who are questioning almost everything about themselves – why not make museums a safe space for them to ask the questions and get a few steps closer to the answers?

this week’s keyword: new

Apologies for the delay in posts but it’s for a good reason. This is my first week as the Coordinator of Public Programs & Events at Kansas State University’s Marianna Kistler Beach Museum of Art.

I’ve been slowly transitioning into a new (to me and the museum) position, relocating to a new city, and trying to convince my die-hard Jayhawker brother to visit me in Wildcat Country.

My first official staff pic of the new banner installation! 


But there’s so much possibility here! I’ve always felt that university art museums chronically suffer from low visibility (whether that is intentional or not is the stuff of debate). The collaborative opportunities within the university and the surrounding community are very exciting! It definitely gets my interdisciplinary brain spinning. 🙂

Of course, there’s much to  learn but I’m ready for the challenge.

wanted: emerging museum professionals

There are as many definitions for the term “emerging museum professional” as there are museums. No matter how you define it, I want to hear from you!

During the month of April this blog will focus on the unique challenges and issues affecting those who are new to the museum field. I would love to feature guest posts from anyone interested in sharing their experiences as museum world newbies or those who have advice and/or observations for newcomers.

If you’re interested, please contact me via comment to this post, Twitter or russell (dot) adrianne (at) gmail (dot) com.

Unfortunately, as I am emerging myself I can only offer my extreme gratitude for your contributions but hopefully that will change in the future! 🙂