A year and a half ago, on the first day of my zillionth semester of college, I sat timidly in a required art class: ‘Intro to the Visual Experience’. As the professor droned through the syllabus, I looked around at my classmates, scanning for potential friends. It was my first semester at Hunter College as a transfer student, and I was eager to socialize. When the professor finished, we all went around the room and said our name, and our experience with art. Many students’ experience consisted of their own relationship to art-making; some were dedicated artists, while others had never touched a paintbrush. One student in particular peaked my interest, and her name was Irene O’ Hare. Irene explained that she was working at the Rubin Museum of Art as an Apprentice Museum Educator, and that she was getting paid to learn about museum education, the art of the Himalayas, and lead school tours. I was hooked.
I had been working at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan at the time, and knew I was interested in Art and Education, but had no idea where to go from there. I was in a painful limbo. I immediately approached Irene, and that night began work on my resume. I knew the deadline had passed for the AME program, but I wanted to somehow be involved, and at the time, I didn’t really care how. After a series of very fortunate events, I became a volunteer with the Rubin’s School Programs… I was in.
As a volunteer, I was to be assisting in a classroom with the Rubin’s Thinking Through Art museum-school residency program, and working in the Education office. I had never really spent any time in an office before, with the exception of visiting my mom at work, and when I entered 130 West 17th Street, the rows of cubicle walls, the hum of the massive copy machine, and idea of a dress code, all intimidated me. I started watching the popular sitcom ‘The Office’ (although nothing like the Rubin offices, I was just interested in offices), and began to grow into the idea that I was now in a professional environment- even better- a creative professional environment. As the weeks went on, my office- phobias began to fade, and I focused more on the work that was being done, and more importantly, the museum! I went from thinking about my time at the Rubin as being just an internship, to thinking about it as a part of my education. As I gained more responsibility, I suddenly craved more, and when I had the opportunity to become an Apprentice Museum Educator, there was no stopping me. My aspirations grew, and I went from thinking in semester-time, to life-time, and really started to reflect on where I was and what I wanted for my future.
My time as an AME has been precious. Of course the teaching experience (such as leading school tours) is amazing, undoubtedly amazing, but I would have to say that even the scanning, the copying, and the excel sheets have taught me something. I don’t know quite how to express it, I know it has to do with maturity (though that sounds completely cliché), but I think it’s more the idea of seeing something grow, in a complete and true way. I didn’t just come in to lead school tours, but I researched, planned (and scanned!), and sweated over the planning of those tours. Somehow over the course of the year and a half, I suddenly gained clarity, a direction. It happened slowly and in many ways unconsciously, but it happened. I recently applied to go back to school for museum education (keep your fingers crossed!), and next week I begin my journey as a Rubin Museum Visitor Experience Associate. I am looking forward to this new chapter because something very special happened in this past year; I grew up.