A Museum Called Home

As a 21-year-old senior at UNC—Chapel Hill, I have spent a decent amount of time lately pondering what exactly it is I would like to do with my life. And as graduation approaches, it is everybody’s favorite question to ask: “So, what are you doing after college?”

My internship with the NCMA’s Education Department has been an affirming force as I prepare to navigate the post-undergraduate waters. Previously, I was going off an inkling and one relevant internship that made me feel as though Museum Studies was the discipline for me. However, something clicked for me the other day while researching potential selections for the NCMA Book Club; it became clear to me that I really do wish to pursue a museum career.

The NCMA Book Club will discuss An Island Called Home on April 21. See below for details on how to join the discussion.

Yoan Capote, Doctrine, 2011, cast bronze and steel handcuffs, H. 32 x W. 14 5/8 x D. 16 in., Purchased with funds from Mr. and Mrs. N. Richard Miller in memory of Martin B. Rosenthal, by exchange
 My epiphany took place when I was in the midst of choosing Ruth Behar’s book on the Jewish-Cuban diaspora, An Island Called Home, as a complement for Yoan Capote’s Doctrine, a recently acquired work of art displayed in West Building. Pairing the two seemed natural.

Since I am Cuban, this book appealed to me immediately on a superficial level. But something kept nagging at me. I needed it to be a Book Club selection, and I couldn’t quite place why. Until it dawned on me: this was my chance to feel like the Museum’s collection was relevant to me, to my life.

The goal of our book club is to start a dialogue: to draw connections between our collection and the books we read, and by extension, to everyday life. The idea is to foster a sense of intimate, individual connection with the Museum, as well as to highlight the shared experiences our patrons have. This lies at the very root of what I believe is the key responsibility of museums as an institution–promoting and preserving culture, and inspiring a passion for learning about other cultures, ideas, and ways of thought. Cultural exchange is possible because art is found in all walks of life, and it is necessary if museums hope to engage people from all walks of life.

Getting to discuss Doctrine and An Island Called Home at Book Club will open a door for me to engage with the NCMA in a way I have never experienced before. But this is an experience everyone should be able to have, and it is my fervent belief in this that lies at the heart of my interest in Museum Studies as a discipline. Making the Museum a resource for everybody, through more inclusionary practices, is something I have a vested interest in. It is opportunities like this that we can alter the relationships that people have with art.

The NCMA Book Club will discuss An Island Called Home on Thursday, April 21, 2016, at 6:30 pm.

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