Beyond Digital: Open Collections & Cultural Institutions

Originally posted on Art Museum Teaching:

This past June, I participated in a two-week workshop at Harvard University’s metaLAB called Beautiful Data: Telling Stories with Open Collections. Thanks to a grant from the Getty Foundation, the metaLAB brought together over twenty curators, technologists, educators, and scholars to grapple with how we might use publicly available data from museum collections in our work. In the first week, speakers as varied as digital museum specialists to experience designers to scientists who study vision all pressed us to think of our work in unexpected contexts. In the second week, we took what we’d discussed and applied them to projects of our own.

Over the past four months, I’ve let the ideas and theories of Beautiful Data percolate in my visitor-centered soul, and I’ve come to realize this: although open collections is a movement born in the digital realm, I believe its principles are essential to how a 21st-century…

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America Re-Imagined, in Retrospect: Fifty Notable American Novels about the “West”: 21-23.

Originally posted on The Academe Blog:

Henry, Will. Chiricahua.  New York: Lippincott, 1972.

Henry Wilson Allen wrote Westerns under the pseudonyms Clay Fisher and Will Henry.  The novels written as Clay Fisher tend to be more like conventional Westerns, featuring heroes and villains confronting each other in somewhat generic Western settings, with a romance hanging in the balance and providing a subplot.  On the other hand, the novels written as Will Henry tend to focus on historical events and to reflect the author’s special interest in entering into the Native American point of view on those events.

For Chiricahua, Henry received one of several Spur Awards given to him by the Western Writers of America.  Focusing on the 1883 uprising of the Apaches under Chato. The novel has a very complex structure, focusing on a broad range of characters across a considerable geographic distance.  The characters are familiar types, but Henry gives each of…

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#Selfie: In defense of an American Rom-Com

For Something Completely Unrelated to Museums:

I think it’s important whenever talking about Romantic Comedies, romances, or otherwise marketed “chick” things that I begin by commenting on the fact that just liking things for what they are is perfectly reasonable. Some people want to watch football games where the entire point is watching people smash together (no academic justifications needed there), and others want to watch romances where the entire point is watching people’s lives smash together. On that note, ABC’s Selfie doesn’t need an academic or social justification to exist — although it has plenty “serious” reasons for being an important show. All too often, people who enjoy pop culture feel a large and overwhelming need to defend the things we like with “valid” and legitimate ways of liking them. At their core though, romances are pretty much about the enjoyment factor, and the depth we can find in them are lessons about human experience and emotions. Just like an underdog team winning a season game makes us feel like we can learn something about teamwork and dedication, a good romance/comedy makes us feel like we can learn something about love and partnership.

Personally, I’m an avid TV watcher. I like to play shows in the background while I’m reading or writing, and I have a variety of friends who are Media Studies majors, animators, film studies majors, etc. As an art historian moving visual stories really appeal to me and I don’t really feel bad about that. I grew up in the world of the emerging genre of reality TV, and I’ve come to expect shows which are purely meant for entertainment. This season, I’ve started back up my fall line-up. In the beginning this included: Sleepy Hollow, Brooklyn 99, Elementary, How to Get Away with Murder, Bob’s Burgers, Sailor Moon: Crystal, Jane the Virgin (another absolute favorite), and Selfie. (The keen reader will note that aside from Bob’s Burgers all of these shows have confirmed lead characters of color. So yes, Hollywood, your diverse shows will be successful.) After about three episodes I dropped How to Get Away With Murder, because as much as I liked the cast, I didn’t think I could honestly watch a show all about graduate students murdering a professor during my first year of a PhD. Something about the premise fell into “not relaxing”, despite it being an interesting show.

Jane the Virgin and Selfie are frankly, the best shows to come out this season, and it’s a travesty that Selfie is already being canceled. For those who are more reluctant to approach Selfie, let me give you the main reasons why it’s a show that shouldn’t be canceled (but unfortunately already is): Continue reading

A New York Weekend

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t applied to a NYC based graduate school. The University of Delaware was my top-choice PhD, but it’s pretty hard to resist the allure of New York. Pretty hard, that is, until you calculate the cost of attendance. I politely declined immediately on the basis of being broke. Fortunately, Delaware had accepted me two days beforehand, and I spoke with my college professors/recommenders about it, writing that: I don’t feel like this is a hard choice to make. I’d rather be able to afford visiting New York sometimes on Delaware’s offer than be unable to afford to cross the street in Manhattan! 

Not only do I feel I definitely made the right choice, but I’ll be spending this weekend in the city. It’s actually a field trip for my Contemporary Art and Curatorial Practice class with Kelly Baum, Princeton Museum of Art Curator (I posted about her here). We’ll be visiting a private collection of Latin American Art instead of just holding our usual seminar class on campus.

I couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to hunt down an affordable hostel/hotel and book a room for the weekend, so I could extend my trip pass Thursday. Like any weekend in New York, there’s dozens of can’t miss events going on, so I’m going to go where my heart takes me.

Here’s my tentative weekend picks:

PS1 MoMA NY Book Fair Preview & the NY Book Fair – PS1 MoMA is hosting the NY Book Fair preview on 9/25 from 6:00 – 9:00 pm. Not really sure if I’ll have time to get there, since on a normal day, my seminar gets out at five, and I’ll want to check in to my room first. If I don’t get to the party, it’s no big deal — the NY Book Fair goes from the 25th to the 28th.

Free! (But there’s books to be bought.) 

AuH2O Thursday Student Discount – I probably won’t have time to stop by AuH2O on Thursday, but it’s a thrift shop that grants a 15% off student discount on Thursdays. Hard to pass up!

Housing Works: Buy the Bag! – Housing Works NY has a Brooklyn based store where you pay a flat fee for your trash bag, and then get whatever you can fit into it. It’s not just a great bargain, it’s for bulking up my winter wardrobe. Housing Works is a non-profit center which supports HIV/AIDs affected people & communities.

Every day: $25/bag. First 50 people on Saturday mornings get a $5 bag. 

Museum Day Live! – The Smithsonian is hosting Museum Day Live! and tickets to select museums are going to be free on 9/27. I picked up a pass for myself (all passes include a plus one!) for a NYC based museum. Free admission! 

The Strand Bookstore – Is there a bookstore closer to heaven? Hard to say. Connecticut’s Book Barn has cats, but The Strand has everything else. If I don’t spend every cent I was trying to save at the NY Bookfair, The Strand has an entire floor which is mostly art-related books.

Who am I kidding? This won’t be free. I will buy books. 

The NYC Big Flea – The largest Flea Market in Manhattan is on-going this weekend!

$10 admission for 2 days. 

DUMBO Arts Festival – A 3 day arts bash with contemporary artists in DUMBO.

Showroom Seven Sample Sale – I probably won’t buy anything, but a 90% sample sale sounds like a lot of fun to peruse!

Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to New York without entertaining another visit to The Met. Current exhibitions include one on Chinese album art, and I’d be remiss to pass up the donate-as-you-like price. Also, because the Neue Galerie only has one room open at the moment (The Klimt exhibition), it’s pay-as-you-wish.

I’ll also be bringing my sketchbook for the duration of the trip to practice my hand at quick sketches. Updates on the trip will follow!

Making Chicken Noodle Soup: And other things I’m doing to survive Graduate school & stay sane

Today my roommate Margo came down with a cold, and after I was done studying in the library today, I went home to make us Chicken Noodle Soup. Not the best chicken noodle I’ve ever had, but hey, it’s on my list of “things I’m doing to stay sane”. It’s actually first on my list:

Sanity Saver Method #1: Cook some meals yourself. 

Alright, this seems extraordinarily obvious, but when you’re 22 cooking anything seems like more time and energy than it’s actually worth. So I have a compromise: Some meals are pre-made, bought, or frozen. And others, like tonight’s chicken noodle, are cooked from scratch. I find it necessary to keep a balance between “zero effort” and “lots of effort” but I’m sure some people can easily cook every meal.

I’m trying to eventually figure out how to cook meals in such a way that my lunches are already prepped and ready to go for the next day. This worked the other night when I made fresh gnocchi pasta salad, apple cider, and baked apples, which made great leftovers. And as for my soup, I’ve actually already poured out two soup bowls to go for tomorrow that are ready and waiting in the fridge. I don’t really like cooking this intensely during the week, and I’m more than happy with dinner from a can (or soup for that matter), but something about having an excuse to go grocery shopping and then not studying long enough to make dinner is great. Something about taking a break and then having something delicious to eat at the end of it is really nice.

Sanity Method #2: Get a new hobby. 

I had a moment of realization that I was doing what I loved, devouring my readings, discussing things that interested me, and planning papers and research applications and — not doing a whole lot else. I started eating, breathing, and sleeping school. I love art history, but just like cooking is a nice break from working, I needed another nice break.

I felt this would be tricky at first, because I wanted to avoid thinking about art history in my “hobby”. But my hobbies have always traditionally been artistically inclined. I’ve enjoyed writing fictional stories since childhood, and most hobbies which aren’t sports tend to be crafts. I ended up cutting my losses and buying a sketchbook and some markers. It’s not art history if I’m the one making art, right?

Right.  Continue reading

Settling in at Delaware

I have to say that so far my experience at Delaware and with the department has been incredibly positive. This is exciting because initially when I began applying to Graduate schools I had mentally thought of UD as the best PhD fit for my interests. I wasn’t sure entirely if I’d be able to get into a PhD straight out of undergrad, but I knew I wanted to try. Now that I’m here, I feel both excited and entirely glad I was able to do the direct PhD. Continue reading

The Grand PhD Roadtrip: Results

I haven’t had the time to update as I’d originally intended this last week, but moving from one side of the country to the other tends to do that to you. In the last week, I’ve been through: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. 

The addition of PA may seem strange considering it’s north of Newark, DE, but my Aunt lives just on the other side of the border and I stopped to visit. Updating will be slow or sporadic, but I hope to get my new wifi up and running soon and I’m certain I’ll have settled in soon. 

Instead of describing this trip any further, I’ll just present a nice little picture summary under the cut! Continue reading

Packing for Graduate School

A time honored tradition of anyone who’s ever moved — last minute packing, re-packing, and packing again. I’ll be leaving for Delaware this Saturday, meaning I’ve organized as much as I possibly can of my things, donated anything that doesn’t fit me any longer, and squeezed more clothes into space bags than should be technically allowed. 

The biggest problem, of course, is not the basic items I need every day like clothes, toiletries, or pots and pans. As with any academic in the making, the brunt of what I own is books — unwieldly, heavy, filled with color-plates, and far too many — books

At this point, I’ve parsed down the necessary books (things that I will need the moment I get unpacked) to only a single box, but I have three more that are either art history texts, or language books (Chinese and French, for the sake of the language exams I’ll be taking.) These will probably need to be shipped, as I’m going to be road tripping from one side of this country to the other, so everything has to fit in the car.

And since we’ll be driving from Arizona to Delaware (we being myself, and my roommate and good friend), I may end up updating here a few on the road pictures simply to get myself in the habit of updating this blog. I’ll probably also make a post on the “Essentials” book box I packed, just so it can be compared.

What are your book necessities for study?  

Meet a Museum Blogger: Desiree N. Annis


My interview with the Museum Minute.

Originally posted on Museum Minute:

Desiree N. Annis is a 21 year old Museum Studies student at Arizona State University with a lot on her plate. When she’s not running three different blogs, interning in a museum, in class or working at her day job, she can usually be found drinking coffee and researching the decorative arts for pleasure or researching material culture with Asia Arts Phoenix as a side project. She intends to follow up her BA with an MA/PhD, and fully reserves the right to call herself Dr. D.N.A.

Desiree N. AnnisDo you work in a museum? If not, where do you work? Tell us about your job.

Yes and no. This summer I interned with the Tucson Museum of Art, and I’m currently still helping them with a few things, but the museum is in another city. So I’m working with them, but not in the museum. In addition to that, one of…

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5 Times I should have known Art History was for me (but didn’t)

Choosing a major – or field – in college can seem like a daunting process. But now that I’ve finished my BA (in Museum Studies) and have been accepted into a PhD program in art history, I can point to a few things that make my choice of field make a lot of sense in hindsight. It’s not always clear on the beginning of your path what you’re interested in for college, but sometimes when your bachelor’s degree is all said and done, you have to take a step back, and realize why it made sense. These are the 5 times I could have realized I would love Art History — but didn’t.

And the one time I did realize. 

Continue reading