For almost four years I’ve had the joy of working at an amazing institution, with a fantastic collection, and with an outstanding staff. I’ve been a part of incredible projects,

I’ve been inspired by colleagues, volunteers, and visitors,

and been able to spend hour after hour with some of the most beautiful objects in the world.

ISEA reinstall

Even more than that, I have had the joy and the gift of being a part of the most incredible, total rock star team in the Interpretation department: Kevin KellyBethany Corriveau Gotschall, Lori Wienke, and Stephanie Foster.


I’ve learned so much during my time in Cleveland, and am grateful that I’ll be taking all of those experiences with me as I move to my new role as Director of Education and Community Engagement at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. I’m incredibly excited about joining the Albright-Knox and getting to know Buffalo, and am looking forward to new adventures! (And also glad that Cleveland is still just down the road– I’ll be visiting!)

Announcing the Visitors of Color Tumblr

Check out this post on The Incluseum about Porchia Moore’s and nikhil trivedi’s new project: The Visitors of Color tumblr. Share! Contribute! Follow!

the incluseum

We’re excited to announce the launch of our collaborators Porchia Moore’s and nikhil trivedi’s timely new project: Visitors of Color. Underlying our field’s discussions on “diversity and inclusion” is a desire to serve more members of our local communities, especially those who have been historically (and are still currently) underrepresented among our visitors. These conversations are often devoid of the voices of the very visitors we wish to serve. Visitors of Color centers these voices. Here, Porchia and nikhil present their project. We hope that you’ll consider submitting your voice and/or follow along as the project grows!

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tumblr_nxgbhdJ3tK1ul9954o1_r1_1280Visitors of Color is a Tumblr that documents perspectives and experiences of marginalized people. We named the Tumblr, Visitors of Color to centralize and draw attention to the concern that we have regarding the low rates of participation in our museums particularly by visitors of color, but certainly by people of many…

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Interning in the Interpretation Department at the CMA

When students apply for internships at the Cleveland Museum of Art, it is sometimes unclear about which department is the best fit for their interests and skills. Art history students are typically steered towards internships in curatorial or education departments by their professors, but what about the interpretation departments becoming prominent in art institutions across the states? Over the last decade a number of education departments have added the term “interpretation” to their department descriptions – such as the Education and Interpretation Division at the Cleveland Museum of Art. But what does interpretation in an art museum mean – and how do art history students know if it is the right path for them?

Heller - Tours

**giving a tour on portrait frames at the Summer Solstice Party**

I started out as a student guide at my university’s art museum because I wanted to help create a less-intimidating environment and experience for first time visitors. As a guide I could facilitate discussions and help visitors make personal connections with a work of art. Through conversation, I learned what people were interested in and what they wanted to know more about. I could then present an artwork to them in a way that made it easier and more exciting for someone to understand. In other words, as a guide I helped people interpret the artwork – which is an essential function of any Interpretation Department.

In my internship in the Interpretation Department at the CMA I certainly did a lot of touring activities including shadowing specialty tours (such as for individuals with memory loss) or composing and giving my own thematic tours for CMA events like the Summer Solstice party or the monthly MIX events. But the Interpretation field in art museums has been expanding over the last several years, and the CMA is on the forefront of utilizing new technologies and ideas to engage the visitors with the museum’s collection. This includes Gallery One and ArtLens.

IHeller - Gallery One

**playing in gallery one**

During my internship I got to write thematic tours for the ArtLens App. These short self-guided tours are downloaded right onto an iPad, iPhone or Android device and can be used in the galleries to help visitors find new artworks they may have overlooked, or look into interconnections between artworks that they may not have thought of before. I wrote tours on frames in the galleries as well as how coffee is portrayed in the CMA’s collection. Tours like these are quick and fun. The ArtLens app offers visitors an amazing amount of interpretive material and is completely free! Many of the featured artworks include videos comprised of interviews with the museum’s curators, prominent scholars, and community members. These videos are made right at the museum, and as an intern I even got to attend the recording sessions!

Heller - ArtLens

**making note of things for ArtLens**

The CMA is not all digital in their interpretative materials. The department is always looking for new ways to present information or ideas via printed media. This includes the museum’s approach to the wall labels and even printed self-guided tours and artwork searches. During my internship I worked on several printed projects, such as art searches for artist tools and emblems of love and lust.

The Interpretation Department at the CMA is also well known for their fantastic programs such as Art Bites and the Art and Fiction Book Club. The book club includes a lecture and contextual presentation on the time period or culture associated with the book’s story, a discussion of the book’s contents, and ends with a tour of artwork at the CMA which relates to the story. This summer’s book was Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth and will include a tour of the CMA’s medieval collection.

Heller - Book Club 2

** at the Art and Fiction Book Club Discussion**

The Interpretation Department is responsible for supporting visitors in gaining an understanding of the museum and it’s artwork and resources and making their won meaning in the galleries. If you are passionate about interacting with museum-goers, creative in coming up with ideas to engage people, and fascinated with a wide range of artwork coming from all the collections at the museum, consider an internship in Interpretation!

The Pride and Satisfaction of Creating Videos for an Exhibition: A Cautionary Tale.

The Trials, Tribulations, and Triumphs of an Educational Media Technician.

Last summer, my directors of Interpretation and I met to go over some production schedules for the remaining calendar year.  They told me that come November and December, I would need to prepare myself for a firestorm of editing.  The project to which they were referring was for our upcoming exhibition on Senufo art, and despite their advanced notice, I grossly underestimated the size and scope of this monumental project.

The exhibition, “Senufo: Art and Identity in West Africa,” consists of sculptures, masks, and photographs from very unique societal regions of Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, and Burkina Faso.  Our job as the Department of Interpretation was to create a cohesive narrative, detailing the highlights and themes of the exhibition in the form of multimedia.  At the time, our usual output entailed simple slideshows consisted of audio files and a handful of still-images.  But going from strictly video capture to video output…

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Happy Holidays!

interpretation xmas

The Interpretation department has been getting into the holiday spirit with a progressively more and more complicated display.

taem xmas lunch

The team went out for a celebratory lunch at the Happy Dog around the corner– because nothing says end of the year festivities like hot dogs and tater tots.

End of the year nataraja

Last picture from the museum for me for 2014– getting ready to dance into 2015.

Lectures. Sigh.

Thoughtful (and witty) post from Bethany on the lecture rut that we sometimes fall into. Meanwhile, she’s doing card sorts with visitors today to find out what kinds of programming formats they would be interested in attending.