Art history majors observe potential careers

Junior Shayna Mangiaracino works on an oil painting of a birdhouse in one of her art classes last semester.

Junior Shayna Mangiaracino works on an oil painting of a birdhouse in one of her art classes last semester.

Baker University’s art history majors will get a behind-the-scenes look at the departments in a museum on Feb. 23 when they travel to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo.

“I have a number of students interested in museum work, and while I can answer some of their questions, I can’t answer all of them,” Brett Knappe, assistant professor of art history, said.

The purpose of the trip is to help make undecided students aware of careers and to give other students a real-life look into careers they might be considering.

“It occurred to me that it might be good for the kids to see the workings behind scenes,” Knappe said. “They will be meeting with all of the different departments in the museum and observing their work.”

Knappe, whose wife is on the curatorial staff in the American art exhibit, said some of the departments include curatorial, marketing and communication, donations and education.

“We’ll go and talk to all the different departments and see what would be the best fit for us,” senior Hannah Welliever said.

Welliever, an art history and studio art major, already plans on being a curator but hasn’t seen one at work before.

“With my studio art degree I have to set up my own show and that’s what curators do for museums, so I think doing that on my own will prepare me for what else I want to do for my degree,” Welliever said.

Junior Shayna Mangiaracino, also an art history and studio art major, does not know what she wants to do with her degree.

“It’ll be nice to know what there is available, so I’m really excited to go and see what all a museum actually entails,” Mangiaracino said.

In addition to visiting with the different departments, the group of Baker students will be given a private tour of the Egyptian and Roman exhibition.

While the majority of art history and art studio students have already been to the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Knappe has encouraged his students to treat this visit differently.

“You never know when you could make some important contacts,” Knappe said. “So I told them to dress up like it’s a job interview.”

Despite the national financial crisis and rising unemployment rates, Knappe said museums are not closing and there are a lot of available jobs within museums.

“I just hope the students will get more of a sense of exactly what they can do professionally at a museum,” Knappe said.

The Baker University Art Club also conducts field trips to the Nelson-Atkins museum during the semester when anyone is invited to attend.

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