When did you start working at the i.d.e.a. Museum and what is your role here?
I am the Curator of Education here at the i.d.e.a. Museum and started 16 years ago this September. I was hired in 2003 to develop content for the new early childhood space, ArtVille, which opened in 2004. For the first seven years I was at the museum, I was a museum programming coordinator, responsible for early childhood programming, supervision of part-time staff, managing the volunteer program, serving on the design team to plan and develop activities for ArtVille and exhibitions, scheduling group visits and school field trips, developing activities for school group programs, and managing outreach events. In 2010, I was promoted to the Curator of Education position.
Share some of your responsibilities in your role.
I manage and coordinate the Education Dept. I supervise two full-time museum education assistant positions, as well as the gallery educators, our part-time staff. Along with our museum curator, I co-lead the design team which is responsible for the development and design of our exhibition spaces, ArtVille, HUB and the Whiteman Family Gallery. This gallery features art exhibitions that change every three months. I am a part of the leadership team which is responsible for making strategic decisions on various museum topics and ensuring that our offerings align with our mission and our brand. I work closely with other community organizations to establish collaborations and partnerships that are aligned with the mission and goals of the museum. I work closely with staff, community members and other museum constituents to make sure our exhibitions, programs, and activities are meeting the needs and expectations of the community.
What do you love most about working at the i.d.e.a. Museum and the work you do?
I truly believe in our mission and our place in the community. I love knowing that families can come here, spend quality time together and make memories that they can carry with them. I love the creativity and energy in the galleries and knowing that children are having fun, engaging with exhibition content and learning even when they don’t realize it. I like that we are able to provide experiences for children that can plant a seed that they can, at some time in their life, remember and relate to even more complex concepts. And, I love that we can offer young children their first museum experience where they can make connections to the artwork on display and the art-making opportunities at the activity areas. Our museum offers a comfortable, safe space where families can create, imagine, explore and enjoy each other.
What is your all-time favorite i.d.e.a. Museum exhibit?
This is a difficult question! I have worked on 35 exhibitions in my time here, and I like them all, for different reasons. One of the most memorable for me was Jim Henson’s Fantastic World which was a traveling exhibition about Jim Henson and the muppets. This was memorable because I had grown up with the Muppets, so there was a lot of nostalgia surrounding that exhibition. Because it was a traveling exhibition, we didn’t develop it like we do other exhibits, but it was still fun and I was proud to have it here at our museum.
In terms of exhibitions we have developed as a team, I loved Jeepers Creepers (2014) which was our exhibition about bugs/insects. We collaborated with ASU to provide us with content and insect specimens for the exhibition and also had some fantastic artwork. I also loved Wing It (2012) which was an exhibition about winged flying animals, man-made flying objects and fantasy winged creatures. We had a paper plane launching activity that was fun and also an entire section devoted to debunking the myths about bats. In 2015, we opened Once Upon a Time which focused on fairy tales, myths, legends, and fables. This exhibition combined my love of reading and literature with my love of art.
When you’re not at the museum, you are…
Spending time with my four children and three grandchildren. We love to be outdoors at the park, hiking, having picnics, swimming or walking our dog. We love to visit other museums, zoos and libraries, as well. My youngest son and the grandkids love science experiments and art activities, so you can usually find me concocting something with the kids on any given weekend. Lastly, I love cooking, so I like to spend time experimenting with new recipes or watching the Food Network.
What is your favorite piece of art or who is your favorite artist and why?
I am very interested in abstract art, so I enjoy Picasso, Matisse, Pollack, and Kadinsky. But, I would have to say that my favorite art is what comes from my children. They love to make things for me and my husband and we proudly display it all over our house. As they get older, their skills change and I love to see the progression in their creativity.