"What are you going to do with an Art History degree?" is by far the most common question art history majors get during their college years. Most people think art history will never furnish students with practical knowledge or training to land a job after graduation. Our majors, however, are proving disbelievers wrong. In just a matter of few years many of them have developed exciting careers in diverse cultural institutions. Four recent graduates share their stories with us.
Carleen Coulter (B.A. in Art History and History, 2007)
The Cloisters, Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, New York
My B.A. in art history from UD has been of great value to me. It was essential in securing my current position with the education office at The Cloisters, the branch of The Metropolitan Museum of Art devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. At The Cloisters, I perform both administrative and academic tasks. I often use my training in academic research, looking up object files or pulling resources from the Museum's library. The art history lectures and seminars I attended at Delaware gave me the academic platform necessary to brainstorm public programming ideas with coworkers, and to answer collection specific questions. I also lead gallery workshops for children and their families through the museum. Last year I conducted a program focusing on the depiction of birds and their symbolic meanings in medieval art—a topic closely related to a research paper I completed for Dr. Nees's "Art at the Court of Charlemagne."
Jennifer Stettler (B.A. in Art History, 2006)
Philadelphia Museum of Art
The art history major at UD provided an essential foundation for my career as an art historian and museum professional. After graduating in 2006 with an art history major and French minor, I earned a Masters degree in art history at George Washington University. A graduate internship led to an introduction to Anne d'Harnoncourt (then Director) at the Philadelphia Museum of Art where I have subsequently held three grant-funded positions. Ms. d'Harnoncourt hired me as a Visiting Scholar and Research Assistant for the Calders on the Parkway project, funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, to conduct research on the Calder family of artists and their connections to Philadelphia. When the project ended, I was hired in the Executive Office as Records Coordinator for the Anne d'Harnoncourt Records. Working closely with museum archivists and administrators, I organized over 100 boxes of Ms. d'Harnoncourt's executive materials in preparation for processing by the PMA Archives. Later on I moved into the Registrars' office as Registrar Assistant for the Collection Move. In this position I work with a team of registrars to inventory the collections of East Asian Art, American and European Silver, Rugs and Tapestries, and European Architecture in preparation for the collection move, which is part of the Frank Gehry's underground renovation project. I plan to specialize in American and European art of the late 19th and early 20th century, and to achieve this goal I have recently applied to Ph.D. programs in art history to begin September 2010.
Megan Kuck (B.A. in Art History and French, 2008)
The Phillips Collection
As Program Coordinator at The Phillips Collection's Center for the Study of Modern Art, a large part of my job is planning the Center's programs and representing the Center to our constituents. The programs include an annual symposium, a distinguished lecture series featuring notable artists, critics, scholars and collectors, and a series of informal talks called "Conversations with Artists" that provide an opportunity for the public to hear from innovative artists. I double majored in art history and a language (French), something that I would advise students to do if they are interested in an art career. I also highly recommend seeking internships with a local museum or art center. In addition to my internships, I credit the exceptional instruction and guidance of UD's Art History faculty for my success at The Phillips Collection. The seminars and research opportunities made available by the department prepared me to contribute to the Center program's agenda in ways I never would have expected. I feel very fortunate to be part of such a prestigious museum. I also feel privileged to meet and work with some of the artists and scholars that at one point I studied. In a time when the humanities are not receiving as much credit as they deserve, I adamantly say that majoring in a field such as art history truly prepares you for professional life, providing analytic and practical skill sets that are invaluable regardless of where your path may lead you after college.
Amanda Antonucci (B.A. in Art History and Art Conservation, 2007)
Chemical Heritage Foundation
At the CHF, I am a program assistant for the area of electronics and emerging technology at the Center for Contemporary History and Policy. The Center provides knowledge, perspective, and advice on issues related to molecular sciences and technologies based on historical and contemporary source materials. I am currently contributing to the Gordon E. Moore biography project by processing Gordon E. Moore's archives from Intel Corporation. I have re-housed the materials to acid-free folders and boxes, and created a detailed finding aid and inventory. I have begun to digitize the collection so that scholars can readily explore Moore's history at Intel. When I started this position, I had little understanding of who Gordon Moore was and his influence on the semiconductor industry. By incorporating my ability to analyze and interpret different sources, as well as the research skills that I acquired at UD, I came to understand Moore's contribution to the electronics field. One day a week I work with the Special Collections department as assistant image archivist. I also assist with a Foundation's new web project inputting our Fine Arts collections into a database. My art historical training allows me to contribute to the descriptions of the alchemical paintings and works of art on paper for the new website. It pleases me greatly that my work will permit these valuable historical materials to be more accessible to researchers, whether they are interested in the semiconductor industry or alchemy.