History major Jeremy Munro ’13 was recently appointed Collections Information Specialist at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. One Thing after Another asked Jeremy about his museum work and what his experiences were like at Saint Anselm College.
Q: One Thing after Another recalls that you were originally from Derry, NH. Why did you decide to go to Saint Anselm College when it was practically in your backyard?
A: I was a pretty shy person in high school and knew I wanted to stay in New England. When touring colleges, we started at UNH, and I didn’t even get out of the car because there were so many people around. Saint Anselm College seemed like the perfect fit in terms of receiving a quality education while also attending a smaller school. It worked out well. I don’t think I would have wound up in the profession I’m in if it weren’t for Saint Anselm College.
Q: Why did you choose to major in History?
A: I’ve had a lifelong fascination with history. As a kid I would play medieval fantasy games and read fantasy novels. When I was looking at colleges, I had originally planned on majoring in computer science, but I took programming classes in high school and found them way less interesting than my history classes. The irony is my job now is computer science with a large history and art component. When I started as a history major, I thought I’d major in European history, but I took a survey class that referred a fair bit to Africa and fell in love with African history.
Q: What is your job title at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, and what are your responsibilities? Which of your tasks do you enjoy the most?
A: I am a Collections Information Specialist in the Collections Management department. Simply put, we manage the art collection. We are responsible for art acquisitions, managing art storage areas, tracking artwork locations, collection photography, copyright and reproductions of the collection for scholarly books and exhibition catalogues, outgoing and incoming loans of artworks, contracting conservators to condition report and treat artworks, couriering artworks to other institutions, and generally making sure the artworks are safe and stable. I manage our artwork database and support our team of four full-time registrars as well as an art handler team in their duties. I spend most of my time updating the database or working on new data entry and export solutions, but I also assist with the management of external reproductions of collection works for scholars and publishers, managing artwork location updates, and helping with photography of the collection. I enjoy creating new data entry solutions and thinking about data abstractly. You have to create solutions which more than likely will outlive you, and that is a really empowering thought. I like to think a hundred years from now my name will still be on the database and in our object files somewhere.
Q: How did you obtain this position? Were there any experiences in college that helped you land this job or prepared you for its responsibilities?
I started work at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in August 2013 which was also the year I graduated Saint Anselm College. I started as a full-time gallery attendant. I was one of those people who tells you not to touch the artwork. I did that for six months when a job posted internally came open in Collections Management. I interviewed and have been in that department since March 2014. At Saint Anselm College, I worked at the Chapel Art Center for three years, and during my senior year I also was an intern there. My experience at the Chapel Art Center made all the difference. Having practical, wide-ranging art experience was extremely valuable. I don’t have a formal tech background, but I’ve taught myself programming at a basic level, and that background really helped. Finally, in a broad way I think studying history helps you think critically and thoroughly which is invaluable for most professions.
Q: What’s your favorite piece of art in the museum?
A: This is the toughest of questions. I was just looking through our online collections and Mark Rothko’s No. 210/No. 211 (Orange) holds a special place for me. When I worked in museum security, I used stand in the gallery that the work is in, and I’d stare at it a lot. Rothko’s works are like a Russian novel; you can spend a lifetime looking at one and always find something different. I don’t think Rothko really liked people analyzing his paintings since he was all about people just participating in the experience of them, but this painting makes me feel content. The ready-made assumption is that he’s modeling the feelings of a sunset, but I think it’s much more than that. It’s about sitting on a cliff watching the sunset on the West Coast. The world is simultaneously in front and behind you physically and not. You’re both confronting your mortality and not. In that moment, you look over your life, and both the past and the future seem just fine.
No. 210/No. 211 (Orange), 1960
Oil on canvas
69 x 63 in. (175.3 x 160 cm)
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography by Edward C. Robison III.