Students aspiring to careers at art museums gathered on campus recently to hear professional stories and insights from the team at Bowdoin’s Museum of Art, as well as from invited guest Elizabeth Cartland ’99 from the Portland Museum of Art.
Along with Cartland, who is director of development at the Portland museum, the panelists included the Bowdoin museum’s co-directors, Anne and Frank Goodyear, curator Joachim Homann, registrar Laura Latman and preparator José Ribas ’76.
Because the panelists work in different divisions of the museums, students received a well-rounded overview of the multitude of job opportunities within one museum. Latman, for instance, described her museum job of registrar, which can be overshadowed by the better known job of curator.
“I wanted to work in the art museum world, but didn’t want to go back to school for it. There’s no school for registrars so you basically learn by doing it,” Latman said. “I pretty much do the nitty and gritty work of working out the logistics of getting the pieces to other locations.” She’s traveled to Spain and Italy for this work, she added.
The eclectic panelists also shared their views on museums as transformative spaces, and ones that help shape our understanding of the world. Homann noted the dynamism of museums, saying, “Today, the demands placed upon museums are constantly changing. They are receiving more and more attention in the press as places that reflect trends in society.”
Ribas expanded that view by reminding people, too, of the inherent timeless of museums. “Growing up in the Bronx, going to museums was a way to escape,” he said. “I grew up going to three or four museums a month. They are such interesting, beautiful and safe places.”
The career panel was a continuation of a series at Bowdoin, Career Conversations in the Visual Arts. Last semester, Dighton Spooner in Career Planning invited young alumni who work in auction houses and art galleries to speak about working in the commercial side of the art world. Spooner, senior associate director of Career Planning, advises students interested in film, advertising, public relations and the arts.