A select group of John Brown University students will explore firsthand the inner workings of a museum this semester. As part of the College Ambassador program at the Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, 52 area college students will use their interests and creativity to help produce programming for young adults.
Seven students from the University were among those selected. Amy Angell, Emily Weatherford, Brandy Cowell, Hannah Rose McIntire, Jordan Kline, Hope Eidson and Cassie Pierson will represent the University in the initial year of the museum’s program.
Sara Sergerlin, public programs coordinator for Crystal Bridges, is in charge of this new endeavor. Previously working at the Museum of Neon Art in Los Angeles, Sergerlin noticed that there was a gap in programming for college-age or young adult visitors. Inspired by research from other museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, she worked to launch her own program.
The Neon Arts group met monthly and designed art-related events for Friday nights, including music and visual art—similar to what Sergerlin envisions for Crystal Bridges. When she first moved to Springdale, Ark. to work at the museum of American art, she noticed a similar need to what she observed in California.
The College Ambassador program allows young adults the opportunity to promote art of all kinds within their community.
“The goal of the program is to be a bridgeway for college students to connect with the museum and its mission,” said Sergerlin.
She hopes to hand over the reins to the group, letting them form the projects based on their own interests and specialties. With so much interest in the program, those selected will most likely be split up into smaller groups to produce a unique project.
Sergerlin budgeted a small amount of money for each group to use on art supplies, a speaker, and a local artist or musician. Any expense will be vetted through the institution like other expenses would be.
Through the planning, budgeting and advertising processes, Sergerlin planned for students to also learn about the business side of an art institution.
During the group’s first meeting about a week ago, Sergerlin invited Laura Jacobs, the director of communications at Crystal Bridges, to speak.
“This generation is so media savvy, I thought it would be a good start,” Sergerlin described. “She has taken the reign for branding Crystal Bridges. She really has to direct the way we communicate about the museum, which is not always easy for a new museum.”
Students also participated in a meet and greet session and a short photography assignment.
Senior Brandy Cowell enjoyed being able to learn more about the public relations side of things and the opportunity to take pictures at the first meeting.
Wanting to become a teacher, Cowell thought the program would be beneficial for her future classes.
“I would really like to learn about how they preserve the works,” she explained. “And also I want to gain broad enough knowledge so I can teach my high school students about museum work and maybe inspire something in them to pursue that line of work if it is their passion.”
Junior Amy Angell was excited by the different passions and talents each student brought to the group.
“There is a wide variety of majors and goals–some are more interested in the business side of how the museum runs, others are curious about the job of a curator and some simply want a chance to see and discuss the art with a group of likeminded young adults,” Angell said.
While Sergerlin admitted the Ambassador Program is entering into somewhat unknown territory, she is excited to see the end result.