16 June, 2008

Words of Wisdom

Today we interns had two very interesting meetings that gave me some good things to think about. First, we attended a panel discussion with six members of the Development department. They work tirelessly to raise the funds to operate this institution (at least $45 million dollars a year). The thing that impressed me, though, was their focus on supporting great art more than "lining the coffers." From everything I have seen in the last week, the PMA is not about being a business; it is dedicated to bringing diverse, quality collections to as many people as possible. One woman mentioned of Anne D'Harnoncourt, the Director of the PMA who passed away very suddenly a few weeks ago, that she was never one to sell out. She would never, ever, approve an exhibition of popular big names (Impressionists, for instance) just to appeal to popular taste and attract a lot of paying visitors; rather, she would only approve exhibitions that she felt would impart new knowledge and represented excellent scholarship. That integrity permeates the whole museum.

Second, we had a meeting with the Curator of European Painting, who gave us a preview of an upcoming Cezanne exhibit and shared a bit about the process of planning and assembling such an exhibition. When asked about his background and what got him to this position, this was his immediate response: "Never sit at your desk. Work on your languages every day. Move about in the world, and look at things." He went on to say that although some people say otherwise, it is absolutely essential to have a postgraduate degree these days. I left that meeting with a sneaking suspicion that maybe I wouldn't mind curatorial work, and inspired to finally master one of the languages I have dabbled in and obtain that Master's Degree, by George!

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