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Alumni Stories: Suzanne Gold

Major: History of Art and Writing Seminars
Current Position:
Visitor Services Coordinator and Archive Assistant, Glenstone

After graduation Suzanne began working as a summer intern for Glenstone, a private collection of modern and contemporary art in Potomac, MD, just outside of Washington D.C. Under the auspices of her internship Suzanne worked for the Curatorial Assistant department, the Registrar, Archives and Visitor Services. At the end of her first summer, Suzanne was asked to extend her internship through May 2011, when she was offered a permanent position on the staff.

She writes: "Glenstone has provided a pretty intriguing museum environment in which to work. Daily, I have come up against philosophical and theoretical issues that I began to think about under the auspices of the Program in Museums and Society, during my undergraduate education. For example, the status of Glenstone as a private collection separates it from any regular museum. While the collecting scheme, tastes and values reflected in the collection are inherently personal, the force behind the collection is essentially academic. The collectors only collect works by artists who have been working a minimum of 15 years (i.e. are generally canonized), they only collect the works that provide the "best" example of each recognized "period" of an artist's overall oeuvre, and they only collect works of art that change their conception of what art is."

Suzanne trains docents to orient visitors to Glenstone, emphasizing an interactive approach to tours that aims to work with the philosophy of Glenstone's collectors that nothing should stand between viewers and their experience and interpretation of art. Glenstone deliberately avoids placing physical obstacles between visitors and the art, or interpretive frames such as wall texts, extensive labels or even a loose script for tours. Suzanne explains: "the object of a tour of Glenstone is that the visitor has as close and personal an interaction with the works as possible. The docents are present to facilitate this interaction."

Suzanne's theoretical engagement with the varied approaches to visitor-art interaction started her sophomore year at JHU, when she took the second part of Museums and Society's introductory sequence "Issues and Ideas" with Dr. Rodini, and continued through her curricular experiences at JHU, especially a class on Warhol that she took at the Baltimore Museum of Art with Preston Bautista, Director of Public Programs.

Suzanne explains: "Obviously the program in Museums & Society, although newly christened when I entered it, had an immense influence on my professional and personal activities that followed upon graduation. Museum issues are still among my favorite topics of conversation. Additionally, my skills of interpretation and appreciation of art history have been nothing but bolstered by an understanding of the building and the space surrounding works of art in a museum or a gallery. The way a particular setting heightens the objects within, the lighting, spacing, gimmicks of reveal, etc., are all on my radar thanks to the program in museums and society. Not even to mention issues in art conservation and restoration, which I have been delighted to encounter at Glenstone through the continued maintenance of the outdoor sculpture and some time-sensitive works by Andy Goldsworthy, set back in the wooded areas of the Glenstone property. How to preserve the ephemeral! Christo and Jean-Claude's theories on impermanence combine with the readings I've done for classes on the dangers of restoring permanence to works of art through interventions such as conservation and restoration. So much to think about!"

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