Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
It’s a topsy-turvy world. A year ago, I was a student at Northcentral Technical College. This week, an NTC marketing instructor is job shadowing me at the Woodson Art Museum, to see how a non-profit art museum carries out its marketing efforts.
How quickly things can change. Doors can open, opportunities can arise that you never envisioned – as long as you prepare to pounce. Based on my observations, education combined with real-world experience is the key.
For me, the combination of education (bachelor’s degree in journalism and recent associate’s degree in web and digital media development) and work experience (seven years as a newspaper and magazine reporter and editor in Kansas and Florida) helped open the door to my job as marketing and communications manager at the Museum. College internships at a restaurant magazine in Kansas City, a small-town newspaper, and a summer at the Environmental Protection Agency helped solidify my conviction that I was pursuing the right path and enabled me to apply what I was learning in new ways.That’s why I said “yes” when Janet Kilsdonk, NTC marketing instructor and marketing program faculty team leader, asked last fall if she could spend a week with me, as a job shadow, if she received an occupational development grant. Nothing beats that combination of education, plus on-the-job experience – for a student intern or an instructor taking “real world” experience back to her classroom. You make connections and think anew about how to apply what you learn.
To Janet’s credit, she’s done this before at other types of local businesses. She spent a week at WSAW-TV 7 and a week at Kinziegreen Marketing Group. She wanted to round out her experience at a non-profit art museum.
And the benefits flow along a two-way street. With just six months of museum experience under my belt, she knows that I plan to pick her brain, as well.
After a brief tour and round of staff introductions, we exchanged materials. She brought a marketing textbook, some relevant articles, and a copy of NTC’s marketing plan. I shared the Museum’s plan with her, some of our promotional materials, and roughly outlined the work flow that occurs before the opening of each of five major exhibitions annually:
- creating the preview reception invitation
- a 10-page events calendar, detailing more than thirty programs for all ages
- “Vista,” our quarterly Museum members newsletter
- press releases
- a long-range exhibition schedule issued to local, regional, and national magazines
- print, radio, online, (and occasionally video) advertisements for area media
- “This Week at the Woodson” issued weekly to local media and hotels
- Facebook and Twitter posts generated several times each day
Janet and I brainstormed about ways to make the Museum website more interactive, how we could conduct an “art sleuth” contest on our Facebook page or pose a “what’s next?” quiz in which participants would need to dig into the website to find the answers about upcoming exhibitions. We talked about marketing plans, trends in social media, and Groupon.
Then we popped downstairs to take photos of 115 adorable little ones and accompanying adults who converged on Art Park for Toddler Tuesday. Later, after sushi at Yao’s Dragon (thank you, Jan!), I posted a Facebook link to the Wausau Daily Herald’s online photo gallery of Toddler Tuesday pictures, answered some emails, edited a Museum summary document while Jan culled through the photos we’d taken.
We then joined and photographed “Art Beyond Sight,” a program for individuals with low vision and blindness that included a sensory tour of the I Want Candy exhibition. Educator Erin Narloch provided a lusciously descriptive verbal tour of the artwork on view, followed by coffee and chocolate.
We finished the day by attending “Family Memorial Art: Treasuring Memories,” which provided a therapeutic art-making session for those who’ve lost loved ones. Participants brought photos and mementos to incorporate into a papier-mâché project, led by Museum educator Jayna Hintz and Amy Kitsembel, from the Grief Center at Aspirus Comfort Care and Hospice Services. The program included parents and two young boys who wanted to commemorate their grandfather and a woman who’d lost a sister and brought a nephew who’d lost his mother. Another couple brought photos of their four-day-old son.
Janet said she was amazed by the range of programs presented, free of charge, at the Woodson Art Museum in just one day.
I had the same reaction when I began work here six months ago. My challenge is to spread the word, far and wide, about the depth of enriching programs, offered for all ages – a truly valuable community education resource.
What a privilege it is to champion the Woodson Art Museum and all it does for the Wausau area and north central Wisconsin. And what fun it is to brainstorm and interact with a marketing instructor about how to improve and expand our promotional efforts.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The focus of the seminar is on Museum Education and an “American Experience.” We’ll visit more than a dozen museums by the end of our seminar Friday. Our final project is developing an interactive education gallery proposal for the Seaport Museum New York. So far, the experience has been nothing less than transformative. I feel sort of awkward saying that, considering I’ve been working in museum education for more than eight years. But it’s true.
On our first “museum day” we traveled to Ellis Island, via ferry, braving a cold wind. What touched me most about the experience wasn’t the stuff, it was the place. During our ranger-led tour, the guide stopped us right in front of the doors and told us to look at the floor. Doing so, he reminded us of how many Americans (and possibly our ancestors) placed their feet in that very same spot. In this moment, I felt overwhelmed by history. I pondered what these immigrants wanted from America, what they brought with them, what they’d left behind, who made the journey, who might have been waiting for them in Manhattan or, perhaps, Wisconsin? What an incredible moment. I felt elasticity in time, very close to history.
Thus far, we’ve traveled to the following museums:
Museum visits still to come:
My New York days are numbered; I head out on Saturday morning. I’ll be processing this experience for months to come and applying some of the best practices at the Woodson Art Museum. With a few days to go, do blog readers have any New York City suggestions? Any places I shouldn’t miss?
Celebrity sightings: Julianne Moore and her family at the Design Museum. Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara, and Kate Flannery (Meredith from NBC’s “The Office”) having dinner together at Five Napkins Burgers (same restaurant Jayna Hintz and I went to when we did our Alzheimer’s training in NYC in 2008). Oh, and I got to get a behind-the-scenes tour of NBC (fellow classmate’s uncle is a producer). I saw Ted Williams, the homeless man with the radio voice, and the Saturday Night Live, the Today Show, and NBC Nightly News sets.
(Pictures from top to bottom right: On the ferry from Ellis Island; Judy Chicago's The Dinner Party at the Brooklyn Museum; work by Kehinde Wiley at the Brooklyn Museum; with fellow students in the Today Show's studio.)
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Remember the anguish waiting for the Chilean miners to be rescued? Or, the lurching of your stomach as images of the Gulf oil spill repeatedly crossed the television screen. Thankfully there are the inane as well: American Idol tryouts (my guilty pleasure), and ongoing speculation about Brett Favre’s retirement (yes, finally!), and the continuing saga of any number of pop culture personalities (think Lindsay Lohan and Charlie Sheen). The list is long, and it makes me grateful to be anonymous and dull.
While preparing year-end accounting reports, I found inspiration for this blog. With that thought in mind I share this impressive chronicle of 2010 acquisitions and collection development.
Ten 2010 Woodson Art Museum Collection Tidbits
2. In the past year, 383 artworks were added to the collection. This number includes ten paintings, twenty sculptures, and 353 works on paper.
7. The installation of Eagle III, by sculptor Gwynn Murrill, brings the number of large-scale outdoor sculptures found on the Museum’s grounds to nineteen.
8. The Museum acquired eleven works from the 2010 Bird in Art exhibition. In fact, 312 works previously included in Birds in Art are now in the collection.
9. Liquidity, by Chris Bacon, was acquired in memory of Museum founder John E. Forester.
10. Alan and Paul Singer donated fifteen of their father Arthur’s paintings, joining previous gifts that total 147 works in the collection.