Hey GenX Says bloggers! Summers hot and working in a museum is an ideal thing!  However, I jumped right into the heat with a new world-view. It’s only a bit over a month since I stopped working at the museum and I have been focused on going forward with my goals.  I just feel stronger each day that I made the right choice, the girl working teaching kids in the park or inventorying the galleries or main storage will not become a founding museum director of a digitally driven Jewish museum in the future without taking huge risks and going forward!!

Read more about how I’m Werk-n-IT

Dont Kid WIth Me!

A friend of mine’s brother wrote a poem she read me 20-something years ago when this guy was fifteen how he’s “just a kid- so dont kid with me”.  I remember then thinking “yeah no kidding..” — I knew that feeling of wanting to be leveled with or left alone. Those were those dark Bush I (Gulf War, Bosnia/Serbia and Rodney King days).  Kinda grim and serious.. an angsty voice of  ’90s teen-hell mixed with that certain alienated and withdrawn art-school mentality..

Today I feel differently! Kid, your voice is important and you got a place! Lets look at what kids do & how they kid around! Kidding around more would be good for all of us! We’ve been so darn serious for so long with politics, social issues, economic and global instabilities- ick!! I want to look at what kids make and think! They’re the future! They are the way out of the heavy rhythm of the past and full of bright potential.  However, I feel that if they have old soggy models to look at then their fresh thinking and progressive ways may become diluted.

As a GenX person it feels like its my place to make an intervention in a way- to step in and say hey, lets all go down a better path (because this one that I’m on has been kinda a tough one).. I think thats the Pay it Forward idea or “let me mentor you now while Im still learning and working on climbing this ladder, so your ladder is not full of barbs and rungs taken out from under you” – or simply the right think to do!!  Mentor a kid now so its a better next generation with greater opportunities and achievements. Way more of us need to do this so that we can break the mold and push for stronger innovations.  Why do I think innovations are so important? Because things are simply not good enough- I know this because I’m a GenX museum professional sitting here blogging at 4:30am full of great ideas!! 

So a month ago I was in the art supply store and a kid a bit older then my own son had a fist full of paint markers (which I like and buy my son who has ever color Sharpie and paint marker).. I asked him what colors or something about his markers and he said he was using them for shoes he designed.  I had just that week donated my first object to a museum! A pair of hand painted graffiti boots that were so cool, a few years ago when I wore them to the Goldstein Museum of Design the Curator asked me for them one day..which became my first gift to a museum.  My son has also designed some shoes that he’s drawn on paper so I got excited and asked him if he wanted to be a shoe designer. He replied that he wished to be a game designer but his Mom told him to enter every contest and his shoe design was for one. 

I had just that week applied for the NARS Curator of the Year and feeling just as on a wing but the most innocent best intentions and honest belief I could win feeling that I recognized in his eyes.  I handed him my card and said I’m about to be a Phd student and I will need a game designer. I am an art historian who specializes in Jewish art and my goal is to make iPad/mobile apps that include games. I asked if he wanted to “intern” with me and I’d mentor him while I was getting my Phd and that mentorship will be part of my methodology. He was super excited! I said I couldn’t pay him (hopefully that may change) but it would look good on his resume and help him hopefully in the future. We agreed I’d connect with his Mom and get this ball rolling!

I told him there were museum games that are fun, challenging, rewarding, educational.. some games to be like games- and some apps with elegant functions full of interactivity and participatory game-like functions..learning comes in many forms as do games and that some were more successful then others for different reasons I explained over some emails.. I suggested some apps and games to check out on his computer (shucks, he doesn’t have a smartphone).  Over the weeks he continued his interest and contacted me with ideas and questions about what I may want from him. I told him to trust me, I want lots of things but lets just first meet at a table at the museum and play with some games on my iPad and look at some art.

We met up yesterday at @artsmia and sat in their new Commons Area, a hall with conference or work tables and lots of seating areas with outlets etc.. We explored many museum games on apps and I went on an hour brainstorm with him just taking it all in.. I discussed themes and ideas for Jewish games and told him that even a game like “Polish the Holiday Silver” or “Dress the Torah” don’t have to be completely unexciting but games like “Protect the Cultural Property” or “Recover the Nazi-looted Art” in a game called “Restitution” may be more exciting (and more relevant).. and very Indiana Jones-y!

We discussed the idea of safe polite apps and some more risky ones such as how to really handle Nazi looting and how even a restitution mock-trial can be a game. Or a “Holocaust Memory Game” where artworks from the Holocaust could be used as a memory/match game.. It’s pushing some uncomfortable boundaries but I believe may be more effective then “Polish the Holiday Silver” which both the intern teen and my own kid groaned and assured me they’d rather try Nazis and return the art then see an etrog box or a pair of candlesticks polish-up!!! I agree!!!

I showed him how each object had a story which was enough to make an entire app on… Such as a menorah – this object could be a pivot point to learn about the Maccabee revolt against the Romans.. One can look at styles of just that object or explore other parts of material culture then like coinage, costume and other ritual objects, one could make a game of finding enough oil for eight nights, defending the Temple and spinning the dreidel (in 3D of course)… 

So the meeting wrapped up great with both of us going our ways to brainstorm more.. I taught him an exorcize I liked to teach the Art-in-the-Park kids I used to teach for the museum… I asked him if he ever hears a little voice inside that says “I can’t do this, it doesn’t look right, this doesn’t make sense..etc.” he agreed that he hears that sometimes. I told him this is the Voice of Censorship and everyone gets it sometimes.. Whether you’re 8, 18, 28 or 48 this voice is no good. I had him close his eyes and reach inside and visualize pulling that voice out of him, crumpling it up & tossing it out! 

We will see how that works… stay tuned this is a game in the works! 
btw: neither of us won the contests we entered for shoe design or curator of the year.. but we both agreed we felt like winners for applying! 

Leading from the Middle

I know I am not alone when I think, “Doesn’t every generation feel sandwiched in the middle?” Not being a scholar on the subject but aspiring to be generationally-empathetic, I’ll just say, “Yeah, probably.” So is there anything that makes GenX “special” (with ironic quotes)?  From a demographic perspective, the answer is a firm, “Yes.” We are a thin slice of olive loaf in a Texas toast sandwich between the Boomers and GenY.  So…yes.  We are sandwiched in the middle of these demographically fat generations. While thin, we are complex, representing the lips-and-assholes sensibility of baloney and the Mediterranean “je ne sais quoi” of olives and pimentos.

I agree. That analogy is over the top. Don’t let it stop you.

The pain of being sandwiched in the middle—regardless the thickness of the bread or the moniker of generations—is that feeling of wanting to do something meaningful…something that makes sense to you and the folks that you identify with. This is the pain of every generation. How do you create change? The pain for GenX is that we are demographically small and relatively underrepresented in organizations. So that… to be honest…sucks. For GenXers in small non-profits it often becomes a question of how do you create change in which sometimes only you believe?

Do not despair. Despite the thinness of our olive loaf (i.e., generation), we demographically represent a numerically and financially important demographic for fundraising and earned income for museums. I know. Retch retch. Puke puke. Gag me with a spoon. “I am more than fundraising and earned income!”

You’re right. Every generation represents the link to which it is sandwiched between. You know how the venerable Fresh Prince once said, “Parents just don’t understand?” I strongly believe that GenX is the generational bridge between the demographically dominant Boomer parents and their kooky, creative and demographically boomin’ kids in GenY.

This idea isn’t popular amongst GenXers. We are doggedly “more than that!” Don’t get me wrong. I am with you brothers and sisters. I too am personally more than a bridge between two demographically dominant generations. We have apeloads of assets (and baggage) associated with the cultural milieu of our times that make our generation good leaders and managers. That said, from an organizational perspective we have some very tangible “intergenerational” perspectives that allow us to bridge our sandwiching demographic giants. Capitalize on all those unique assets. Lead from the middle as a generation and an individual. Smart organizations will (eventually) recognize the long-term benefits you represent to the mission.

I Call Bullshit

There were three of us Gen X’ers in the room. I picked us out of the crowd of thirty immediately.  We were all on the older side of Gen X.  I could tell by the wrinkles and the gray hair, but there was still something young about us – a slouch, a wicked smile, or the lack of a tie.  We were grayer than some of the Boomers who just can’t seem to not color their hair.

This was a typical meeting in this town.  Most of the people there were Baby Boomers, and there were just two people older than that.  There were three Gen Y/Millenial support staff in the room, silent and bright eyed.  I live in world in which I almost watch myself work from afar when I am bored.  I was thinking I might Tweet :  “The unbearable whiteness of meeting…”  I think that about summed it up.  There were going to be few divergent opinions in this meeting with its momentum barreling towards a certain conclusion.  Still, almost every meeting these days has me wrestling with an alter ego who is stumbling towards the Gong Show bell like a gooned up Chuck Barris to sound the internal alarm of Bullshit.  Bullshit.  Bullshit!  Paul Revere on a horse, “The Bullshit is coming!  The Bullshit is coming!”

The meeting facilitator asked by show of hands how many of us were from 501 c 3’s.  Most of us were.  He singled out a few folks to ask, “What are the main things you do if you had to just give me three words?”  Advocacy was the one that came up first in most cases.  A few mentioned networking.  One or two mentioned services.  Two mentioned education.  This didn’t surprise me since it was a meeting of associations, and if the room had been full of museums, I would likely have heard something like education, interpretation, exhibition, and preservation or something along these lines.  I am not sure I would have heard advocacy at all.

Mitch Swain from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council led a session I attended over the winter that got me stoked about the advocacy work that I do.  Most of the folks in Mitch’s session were from arts organizations or museums.  He said, “Is Advocacy in your Executive Director’s job description?  It should be.”  As it so happened, there was one arts organization director, and by all accounts a capable hard working guy, who said out loud, after raising his hand, that he could not participate in advocacy because his organization was a 501 c 3.  I wrestled free of my own self and called Bullshit on this.  The “NO” came out of me like an exploding hand grenade.  There were plenty of other people muttering, “No, you can advocate,” too.

This is killing us.  We need to be advocates, all of us, directors, trustees, professional staff, and everyone who works in whatever 501 c 3 is our passion.  This idea that we cannot advocate is bullshit.  It is a cop out so you can keep doing the more passionate, comfortable things on your to do list until the public and various levels of government decide you must not need anything since they haven’t heard from you.  This idea that you will have your 501 c 3 revoked for advocating is bullshit.  Do you know anyone that has ever had that happen to them?  I don’t.  Do you?  Name one.  It is bullshit.

Advocacy is educating the public and government entities about issues related to your industry including why you may need funding, where you intersect with other public institutions like schools, libraries, or tourism offices, and how many people your industry impacts as a quality of life concern or a job creation machine.  Museums have great stories to tell about this.  They say you can lose your 501 c 3 if you “influence specific legislation.”  I have worked my ass off in advocacy, and I never once, not a single damned time, influenced specific legislation.  If you think lawmakers or the public are going to immediately do something for you the minute you speak up, you are dreaming.  You have to keep at it year after year after year.  This is a complex world.  Your organization is great, but if you aren’t heard when it’s budget time, does anyone die?  Do you think you are that important?  Bullshit.

Asshole 101: Boomer Privilege

Warning: angry, generalized rant ahead in response to the onslaught of ALL THE THINGS perpetuating the myth that Baby Boomers Rule the World and Will Do So Forever.

Dear Boomers: Through a mystical combination of genetics, propaganda, averages and pure, dumb luck your overpopulated cohort has managed to survive a long number of years on this planet. Because of this, The Universe owes you. Therefore, it’s perfectly fine to cut checkout lines, demand old-age discounts, insist that nothing has value unless you created it, and extinguish the leadership torch your children and grandchildren should inherit rather than passing it along.

You want all the privileges, all the time. You want the perks of being old, but you bristle at being referred to as such. You want your incontinence pads renamed “underwear.” You want a steady supply of pills to keep your fun bits engorged engaged. You want younger people to spurn the things you gleefully enjoyed. To everyone else, this ideology smacks of entitlement. To you, it is a right.

You think you’ve done it all. You think you’ve earned it all. You think you know it all. Well, here’s one thing you’re forgetting: none of us get out of this alive.

It’s only a matter of time. Your prophetic and talented peer James Brown said it best: give it up or turn it loose.

While you can.

Can You Fit Me In Your Suitcase?

I have been in the art/culture/museum business since 1991 with a few years in there thrown away to teaching, and although I certainly have had a damn good time, not all of it has been wine and roses.  If not for a few good mentors along the way, I might have quit this shit a long time ago because I am not a half bad dry waller, house painter, and general handyman kind of dude.  They say I clean up nice, and that may be true.  There is always something proletarian about me I won’t quite give up, and I will never be a snitch.  My generation is one at odds with itself, calling out the posers, never quite united enough to be any kind of force in the world,  You pitch in with this or that, and that’s your right.  So many people my own age disgust me, disappoint me, or even inspire me without acknowledging my understanding of what they are getting at, and yet we are all so far from each other we will never sing down a war or wax poetic about Taps or Red Dawn together over wine in someone’s sprawling kitchen with the children conveniently silent and in bed like we are Jennifer Aniston on Friends.  We are not together in solidarity except maybe in threes and fives, someone in the middle of a divorce, with everyone’s mind on work, money, parenting, and the inevitable seriousness of our predicament.  We will work forever, even longer than the Boomers.  We will have no choice.

I am 46.  I have been out of work three days in the last fifteen years.  I have no healthcare..  I have a pathetic 401K.  My life insurance policy is worth almost enough to cremate me and hand me off to my kids in a 50 psi cardboard box.  I have no illusions about social security, and my parents, middle class people from what seems like a different world a million light years from here, are dead and gone.  I am an orphan, but that’s not just because my parents aren’t around.  I’m an orphan in just about every way a person can be.  I’m even an orphan to my siblings and my brothers and sisters of my generation.  I am an orphan in some ways to my mentors.

I had two truly great mentors, and both of them were a little too old to be Boomers.  They weren’t WWII guys, either.  They were born at the end of the 1930’s or early in the 1940’s, in the shadow of two great generations.  I have never asked them about this because they probably don’t think much one way or the other about it.  Both of these guys are far too humble, and the only part of me that is humble, you can thank them for that. 

Bill was a VP at a huge, international corporation.  He married an artist, a really good artist, and he managed a lot of people and huge budgets in a complex for profit industry.  He was a philanthropist, an art lover, and a business guy who brought that sensibility to a hundred boards as a Trustee.  He became President about the same time I became Acting Director, and this town is full of people just like me who served as Director while he was President of their board. 

Clyde headed up a state art education department.  He was a good artist himself, and I think he’s even better these days.  Clyde’s whole schtick these days is the vision thing, and his vision thing is so much better than George H. W. Bush’s it should make your head spin.  Clyde was a Trustee, too, and he and Bill are buddies.  Clyde’s probably more famous than Bill, and although Bill has given more time and money to managing and stabilizing organizations, it is Clyde’s dreaming that has made much of it even worth funding or managing. 

I’m not sure where I stand with these guys.  It seems impolite to ask. Clyde makes fun of my ponytail and my beard and my motorcycle and how many kids I’ve had.  He is good at the down home ribbing.  I never hear from Bill.  I wonder if he’s forgotten me, given up on me, or condemns me.  I don’t really care anymore.  I think he just got sick of me and sick of “it,” being this crazy business.  Maybe he stayed too long and could never make sense of it so he went back to the things that make sense to him.  He taught me how to mentally tick off budget stuff, estimate huge columns of multiple digit numbers.  That’s kind of an achievement.  I was an English major in college after all.  I haven’t forgotten either of them, and I am genuinely grateful for what they’ve passed to me.  It seems ever so sweeter that their generation was an afterthought.  They were overshadowed on either end of their lives by other generations, but they both managed to have a huge impact whether it’s recognized or not. 

I have taught a few people much of what I know, and I stay in touch with a few of them.  Some of them were former interns of mine.  I rejoice when they get a new job, a better job, or an even better job.  I rejoice when they go back to school.  I wish sometimes I were them because my life seems kind of boring sometimes.  I don’t get to travel to China for work.  I’m not sure I qualify yet as a mentor.  I hope I do.  They are doing good things, and humble as I wish I were, I still want some credit for what they’ve done.  I want to participate.  I want to share in it.  I want to profit from it.  Sometimes I have to stop myself from emailing them “Take me with you.”

The Jens (Jenns, Gens, Genns) in Gen X

I am a Jennifer.  That quintessential name that belongs with Generation X.  There are so many of us, after being the number 1 name for girls 15 years from 1970 to 1984.  You’d think with this name we’d all become cookie cutter images of each other.  But Jennifer represents the diversity that many Gen Xers seek.  Because we felt like we might be put into a box with other Jennifers, we found ways to express ourselves by taking control of our names and reinventing ourselves.

In my case, I was a Jenny when I was small.  That works for a cute grade school student.  I went to a small school, each individual grade had about 15-20 students in it.  Typical of the Gen X generation, our numbers were so much smaller than those before us (after I left that grade school, the district closed it and shipped the kids elsewhere).  But even in such a small class, there was still another Jennifer in it.  I was perfectly happy with Jenny.  My parents and siblings called me that, it was my identity, shaped who I was.

Then we moved to another town.  I started junior high (ah, remember the junior highs before they all became middle schools?) in a town a little bigger than the one I grew up in.  This town had three junior highs that all fed into the high school.  The student numbers were large enough, that junior high included 7, 8, and 9th grade and high school was 10-12.  More students, more chances for Jennifers.  Each grade had a good number of them.  Many went by Jenny.  Or Jenni. Or Jen.  Then, in eighth grade, someone told me that there was another Jenny at a different junior high, a year ahead of me, with the same last name!  Same last name spelling!  What eighth grader wants to share a name with someone?  We want to be different, yes?  I made the choice then, that at least I would spell my nickname differently.  I became Jennie, just so I could be different.  So many of us Jennis and Jennies and Jennys were together in high school.  In fact, the other Jenny was in choir with me.  They couldn’t call us by our first name and last intial (which we were used to in so many other cases).  It never occurred to either of us to go by Jen or Jennifer.  We got called Jenny A. and Jenny L.  Thank goodness the middle names were different, otherwise, I think I would have really wanted to chew out my parents.

Moving through college, I found my name to be even more versatile.  College often means you need to change up your image.  Start calling yourself a different version of Jennifer.  Jennie had become too little kid-ish.  Besides, we all shortened our friends’ names to one syllable.  So Jennie became Jenn.  Not Jen, because of course, everyone was using that spelling.  There were Jenis, Jennys, Jennies, Jens, Gens Gennies, and even the dignified use of Jennifer.

When I became a museum professional, it seemed more appropriate to call myself by my full name, to show I mean business.  My new business cards had Jennifer on it.  I would wince if someone shortened it to Jennie, because that was my younger self and seemed inappropriate to me.  Although, the older gentlemen who volunteered in my museum did not get the wince.  Since they were older, I let them call me whatever version of Jennifer they were comfortable with.  Other people would get gentle reminders that I preferred Jennifer.

What does all this have to do with Generation X?  I think the way each of us Jennifers takes our name and uses it to reinvent ourselves, while having a version of our name that still identifies us as a Jennifer shows how versatile we are as a generation and how we take something ordinary and common and make it our own and extraordinary.  This basic name versatility translates into our creativity and adaptability to changing situations.  We are getting older, and I would agree, sometimes we don’t like change.  But once we get over the initial shock of change, we’re willing to dig into the new stuff, marvel at it, play around with it and make it our own.  It’s been pointed out in articles that we just want our Baby Boomer bosses to recognize us for our versatility and creativity.  Well, that and actually use our ideas.  We get frustrated with being pushed aside, when our ideas for change are not tested.  Not all GenXers are perfect, but when we show our creativity and excitement, take notice and use it.

If we don’t get our talents used, we push that energy elsewhere, evident in our versatile creativity.  Me, stuck in a job I was hating, first channeled that creativity into writing.  Writing an entire fictional novel, about, what else, time travel and history with a friend and co-author.  Still stuck in the same rut, I then channeled that energy into preparing for a 471 mile bike ride across the great state of Iowa.  Ok, so biking doesn’t take talent, but I wanted to feel accomplished again.  And what can feel more accomplished than hauling ass across 471 miles in seven days?  I get to learn stuff about bikes, biking, biking gear, increase my fitness, find some dedication again and see a light at the end of the tunnel.  So not related to my history museum job, but look at how I reinvented myself yet again.

I love each of my names.  Jennie is what my family calls me, what my friends from junior high and high school call me.  It reminds me of being a little kid, being young and with less cares.  Jenn is the wild and crazy college student, striking out on her own, also what my adult friends call me. I’m casual and fun.  But when it came down to business, I was all business and pulled out Jennifer.  It feels powerful, in charge and business-like for me.  So, to all the Jennifers, and Gennifers, and any other way you can spell it, keep changing who you are and be ready to be versatile.  And that goes for the rest of Gen X as well.

Don’t Cry For Me Argentina!!!

I was also planning on posting another article that was completely relevant last week but as the weekend continued other things became other new things to write about. Before I wrote a kind of crazy post about tea-baggers, hippies and spare change, as well as, innovation and living off-the grid. I somehow related this all to museums reaching their full potential. Instead, please read about how as of today I officially don’t work at a museum anymore, It’s somewhat of a farewell love letter…

I have loved working at @artsmia for the last 7 years. My history extends back to when I was a young girl taking art classes, including stretching my first canvas to paint at the museum (I remember this vividly as we were listening to Beetles Yellow Submarine in the classroom).  I used to skip high-school and spend the day here and when I went to art school it was just a block away…  As an adult who returned to Minneapolis, I have had the fortune to work at this museum and really let it be the place where I learned all I could and got my chops…

Last night was my official last evening of work at the museum…  I will share my early museum history and why today I’m just fine that I left… Perhaps I am crazy, as Only Idiots Listen to Bob Dylan clearly points out, people do not leave their museum jobs!

After applying for a long time (maybe about 12 times over three years) and repeatedly receiving the “white card of rejection” in the mail. I finally got an interview with HR from a personal recommendation (thank you!). I was so excited to get this opportunity – finally!  Unfortunately, I only had a BFA from one of the best art schools and 20 years of experience directing galleries, founding an art gallery in Taos, NM, teaching art since I was 15, being a historic tour guide, kid’s camp arts director, exhibiting fine artist etc. was told I had no experience for lack of an advanced degree. I was shut down and told there really was no jobs available for me.  I just refused to leave that office without a job and asked if there really wasn’t anything.. I was offered to work in the gift shop or as a gallery security guard. I thought it would not be bad to look at art all day so I said please being me the uniform! This single Mom was happy, thought I was actually a good guard and felt completely fortunate to finally work in the museum I wanted to for so long. I ultimately had way bigger dreams then being a security guard but for then was willing to work my way up the latter!

A friend I made while being a guard gently refers to working in Security sometimes on FB as working in “the mines”… I understand that. Whereas in Europe its very prestigious to work in museum security, here I have seen and experienced where it may become a labor of drudgery for some.  Despite being on the bottom of the chain, I still rocked that uniform with fabulous looking boots and a great attitude. I seized that opportunity to really learn the art in each gallery. I’d secretly sketch the works, once caught, I’d memorize all the labels. I’d make a game of learning the accession numbers, listen to docents and learn details about all the works.  I even would help visiting students write their essays on a work of art they were excited by in the area I was guarding.  Eventually I started noticing occasional errors in the labels or weird things I thought “needed to be fixed” in the galleries.  I would find this nice guy I’d see walking around who seemed to fix things named Ken, and tell him things like, “The date on the Fournier painting is wrong”, and explain why I thought that. Shortly after, the label had changed. So again, I said “Excuse me, may I just show you there’s a Period room with two different colored candles, this sconce has an ivory colored candle and the opposite has an eggshell colored candle”, and again they changed it!  My shining moment of glory was after the entire Bell Court Decorative Arts Galleries were completely re-installed, I pointed out that the Wedgwood box couldn’t bee seen well enough because the frame of the bay window was blocking the view. I knew I could NEVER say that to the curator even though it burned inside of me and kept me up at night. I took the risk of gently suggesting to Ken that if it was moved just two inches over it would not have a deep shadow on it.  A few weeks later it had been quietly readjusted. It was confirmed for me then that I had influence, I could really change things. I felt that my voice, carefully used, actually mattered here.

After a couple months of standing around guarding art I knew I should try to peruse an advanced degree and thought since I love to paint and have read art history books since I could remember would then perhaps be a Painting Curator. While working in the Judaica gallery a docent offered a group of visiting school children what I considered a pretty poor explanation of a Tzadaka box . I realized then that it was important for me to be a Judaica Curator so I may be in the appropriate position to change the docent files and possibly other things that could help educate others. I knew if I wasn’t part of the solution, that I was part of the problem of the lack of cultural understanding and compassion for others. This path was more meaningful to me then writing about Caravaggio or Botticelli, for instance. Perhaps I may contribute to something bigger then just my personal interests in art. Perhaps I may even contribute to the prevention of another genocide.

That day I went home and enrolled in grad school to get a MA in art history. Soon I quit being a Guard and gravitated into a Student Internship in the Judaica Gallery.  I also got an Internship Assisting the Main Registrar of Collections, as well as a temporary/seasonal position as an Art-in-the-Park, Family Day and Teen Youth Programs Art Teacher.  The rest is history… 7 years later, I’ve made a million contributions to that institution, including the Judaica Docent files. I’m able see evidence of my work all over the museum. I’ve been well liked and supported by the other staff members. I’ve had great Mentors and had many extraordinary opportunities. However, no one’s really seriously championed me there or said omg this girls so amazing – she knows all the things we should do!  Her paintings are amazing she’s going to be famous one day and wow what an amazing museum Director she will be… so innovative and smart etc..” but they respect me and honor my work. Last night I taught all the new program teachers how I do an art lesson. Many new teachers approached me after to share with me their hopes and dreams of contributing to the program as I once had.  I was Tweeted yesterday a generous “thank you for wearing many hats” and I saw many colleagues I may connect with at I desire. I feel like I still have an open door and almost the illusion of free-reign in many ways when Im there…

Although I felt that I was contributing to change there I also felt like I was becoming stuck. First of all, I didn’t have a “real full time” job there. So I was never really “in”. How much change can you make when you aren’t even really “in”?  I once actually got fired for refusing to do something very compromising during a short job stint in Visitor Services and figured I never really got hired again because there was a big red NO! at the bottom of my records after that… Or perhaps because I was so full of ideas about new ideas and things and how cool it would be if x-y-z… Change is sometimes threatening to people. I remember years ago in Italy (I went there with that same great man Ken I ended up Interning & Volunteering for)  -after seeing a Kinects wall in an exhibition, returned talking all about it and people looked at me like I was crazy…now the museum brings in other people to do that stuff even though I’ve been telling them stuff like this – like to build cool apps with our collection using new innovations like AR & games etc for a long long time!!!

I was able to infuse iPads into lesson plans for teens and kids out in the parks. I also showed Registration how they could make in-galley inventories with an iPad and how easy it was.. I want to move forward with a PhD Program in Digital Innovations and make iPad apps with games for Jewish art history and immersive exhibitions for in-gallery and on the street using digital technology. Eventually I want to establish a Jewish museum and build it using the most advanced media as the architecture and mission of the museum. I’d tell people about it but realize theres no job like that offered at the museum or opening anytime soon there. Between a job-freeze and slow institutional paces of change I realized I’d have to quit my current positions if I wanted to go forward. I had reached my full potential in the roles that I had but not in the museum. A Teacher does not become an Innovative Director by staying a Teacher or volunteering to do every other job… I think could recontextualize myself and reproach the museum, and other museums, as a Visiting Artist and I also have the option of being a mentored phd student, or even get a proper job in another museum… I’ll take any/all of the above if I can! I know eventually I will have a really great job & am willing to go anywhere to do so. I have contributed a million ways to the positions I have had and to the museum and intend to again in the future…

So I’m not crying today that I don’t have a job at my favorite museum. I am ready for my next steps and know the museum is there to support me in many ways (but not necessarily a job) – but now I also believe my life and career are bigger then just this museum…I’ve enlarged my scope and feel like I’m full of options. So please, don’t cry for me Argentina!!! When my neighbor asked how will the museum go on without me? I answered that a well run institution (despite that it could use some change, as all museums can) should not fall apart if any one person leaves. A well run organization should just keep running smoothly and if your work matters you will be able to see and other people’s work perfectly…Perhaps at one time my ego may have wanted it to shake a little – but not anymore.  I love my museum but now its time for me to move forward!