Students from the FSU Art Education Department attended a two-day field trip to the Ringling Museum of Art during spring semester (February 20-21) to learn about museum education, exhibition development, and conservation around the Re:Purposed special exhibition by contemporary curator Matthew McLendon. The Ringling sponsored a lunch for students to meet with the curator and members of the exhibition development team to learn about the development of the exhibition before a behind-the-scenes tour.
The artwork in the exhibition featured media from discarded or given away non-traditional art materials. Contributing artists included Nick Cave, Aurora Robson, Mac Premo, Jill Sigman, El Anatsui, Alyce Santoro, Vanessa German, Matt Eskuche, Emily Noelle Lambert, and Daniel Rozin. The works explored the evolving meaning of objects, particularly transformation from trash to treasure.
Students had many unique opportunities throughout the visit. They toured several other venues at The Ringling including the Ca D’Zan, the historic home of John and Mable Ringling. Museum staff hosted a dinner so that students had the opportunity to speak with them one on one. The following morning, students attended an educator workshop, Conserving Culture, led by school programs coordinator Bonnie Thomas. The museum’s chief curator, Barbara Ramsey presented an overview of conservation efforts at The Ringling. She emphasized the importance of conserving objects, the process of curating a collection, and the values placed on the philosophy, art, and science behind conservation. Students participated in hands-on activities and met teachers from local school districts.
The Art Education Department sponsored the event in conjunction with the recently formed Museum Education and Visitor-Centered Exhibitions Program (MEX). Professors Dr. Pat Villeneuve and Dr. Ann Rowson Love facilitated the trip with the museum Curator of Education Maureen Zaremba. Dr. Love serves as FSU’s Ringling Museum Liaison and coordinates Ringling internships for several FSU graduate students beginning in Fall 2015.
“They treated us like rockstars!” stated doctoral student Ashley Hartman. Hartman spoke highly of both the hospitality of the museum staff and the insights they provided concerning rationales for exhibits and artists’ works. She added that the visit was “inspiring. Re:Purposed gave me ideas for my long-term goals about collaborating between museums and art therapy. Also about the practical aspects of professional roles in the museum, such as exhibit design, decision making, and museum language.”