Nights (and Days) in the Museums

Melany Simpson
Melanie Sympson

Join an evening of “Exploring Museum Careers with Kalamazoo College Alumni” on Thursday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. in Dewing Hall Room 103. The discussion and Q&A comes from the inspiration of Professor Emerita of Art History Billie Fischer and Visiting Instructor of Art History Melanie Sympson. Sympson is teaching the spring term course “The Modern Art Museum,” and she has enlisted the three alumni panelists to visit her class in addition to sharing their stories with the general public. The alumni participants are John Cummins Steele ’83, Holly (Rarick) Witchey ’83, and Courtney Tompkins ’08. Each will speak about 10 minutes, sharing their from-there-to-here stories (where “there” is K and “here” is working in museums) and then take questions from the audience. The evening will be a true liberal arts fest, says Sympson, for museums are situated at the intersection of many disciplines. Steele is the director of conservation and conservator of sculpture and decorative arts at the Detroit Institute of Arts. He supervises conservation department staff in the examination, documentation, analysis, scientific research, conservation treatment, preservation, exhibition and interpretation of the DIA’s permanent collection. He earned his M.A. and certificate of advanced studies at Buffalo State College. At K he majored in history and earned a concentration in art history. He studied abroad in Erlangen, Germany.

Witchey is director of the Wade Project at the Western Reserve Historical Society. The Wade Project is a multi-year collaborative effort to create a model for studying individual family histories. She also teaches museum work related courses for Johns Hopkins University. Witchey earned her Ph.D. at Case Western Reserve University. At K she majored in political science and art history. She studied abroad in Muenster, Germany.

Tompkins is assistant to the program of research, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. CASVA is a research institute that fosters study of the production, use, and cultural meaning of art, artifacts, architecture, urbanism, photography, and film worldwide from prehistoric times to the present. Tompkins earned her M.A. at American University. At K she majored in art history, and she studied abroad in Rome, Italy.

Better than a “Night at the Museum” is an evening exploring museum careers with these three distinguished alums. The event is free and open to the public.