One of the
highlights of every AAMC conference for me is the "mentoring session.” As a
junior curator working in the field for less than 7 years, I am paired with a
senior curator with over 10 years of experience for an informal conversation.
Mentoring in this way is a lot like electronic dating (I would know—that’s how
my husband and I met). After learning a little bit about someone by exchanging
a few emails and some astute Googling, we meet in person and attempt to have a
fairly personal conversation while minimizing the awkwardness of our encounter.
This year my mentor was Beth Venn, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art and
Senior Curator of American Art at the Newark Museum. Unlike in past years, Beth
and I don’t work in the same field (I’m a design curator), but that difference
didn’t really matter. The same issues about professional development, squaring
personal goals with the needs of your institution, and work-life balance apply
no matter what field you’re in. Beth’s variety of professional experiences and
practical advice helped me think about what kind of goals to set for myself and
next steps in my career. Just hearing about someone else’s trajectory—how
projects move from concept phase to realization, how to take advantage of
opportunities as they present themselves, and how one job can lead to the
next—helped me see the bigger picture. And in a field as small as museum
curating, it never hurts to have friends at institutions all
around the country!
Curator, Decorative Arts and Design
County Museum of Art