History Major to Curatorial Assistant: Ava Prince ’18
Recent graduate and curatorial assistant in the education department at the Allen Memorial Art Museum Ava Prince ’18 is gaining valuable experience and perspective in her first postgraduate position.
What was your first experience working at the Allen Memorial Art Museum (AMAM)?
I was the education and outreach coordinator for the Courage and Compassion exhibit, which is when I first started working with the Allen. In the fall semester before that exhibit, I started prepping to be a docent at the Allen. I took the Practicum in Museum Education course over winter term, and I was running back-to-back between both locations for the entirety of the Courage and Compassion exhibit.
How does this position fit into what you imagine doing in your career long-term?
For the past few years, I have been really wanting to go into museum education. I thought, why not start with some place that I know, frequent, and understand. This is such a great opportunity for me to get that experience. I’m hoping to go to graduate school and earn a degree in either art history or museum studies so I can continue working in museum education. I’ve been getting familiar with the collection and doing a lot of independent research on the works we have at the Allen. I’ve been really enjoying it. So, it’s kind of an education for me because I get to learn more about the history of art.
What are the day-to-day responsibilities of your position?
The education department at the Allen is really unique in that it encompasses a wide variety of things that you wouldn’t think an education department would include. We have K-12 tours, outside group tours, and we also do all of the public programming and events management for the museum. We also run a number of summer camps and workshops with teens.
Has your perspective of the AMAM changed from working so much with children?
It’s interesting, because the focus on interdisciplinary learning in higher education seems obvious. But when students are so young, that’s such a foreign concept to them. I love watching the moment it dawns on them that what they’re learning in the museum relates to what they’re learning in school. Plus, I’m always surprised by them. Our tours are Visual Thinking Strategies-style tours, which makes things more of a conversation. I really do learn something new every time.
In the future, Prince intends to pursue graduate degrees in either art history or museum studies. She plans to continue working in museum education, with a focus on integrating K-12 school curricula into museums and using the museum as an extension of the classroom.