What is your official title, and what are some of your general responsibilities?
My official title is Collections Database Associate. I am working on a new project called Art Tracks that will hopefully provide our provenance data as linked open data. At this point in the project, my responsibilities are mainly cleaning up database records, creating new records where needed, checking facts, and working with our project developer to figure out how to get the best data out of our collections database. My role is pretty exciting, in that I get to be kind of a bridge between the curatorial department, the registrar’s department, and the technology department. I have a background in registration, but I have a totally not secret love of technology and the net, so this is a great fit for me, and I feel like I’ve learned a ton!
What were you doing before joining us at CMOA?
Immediately before coming to CMOA, I was the database administrator at a tech startup called Shoefitr here in Pittsburgh. Before Shoefitr, I was the Registrar at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. Prior to that, I was a contract registrar, working with private clients, small galleries, and corporate clients to do, well, basically anything that needed to be done. Art shipping, painting, installing, condition reporting, toilet repair (yes, really), I could do it. If we want to take a trip in the Way Back Machine, I got my museum start at CMOA. I was here as a volunteer in the Decorative Arts department in 2008 after I moved back to the US from Scotland, and then worked in the Technology department as an imaging technician before I headed out to Oklahoma to start my registrarial career.
What’s your favorite exhibition that you saw this past year (at any museum/event)?
I was honored to be asked to speak at the European Registrars Conference in Helsinki in June. It’s a beautiful city, and a wonderful country with a ton of amazing museums. The Design Museum was hosting a great exhibit of the furniture designer Ilmari Tapiovaara. The objects themselves were fascinating, but the exhibit design and casework was stunning as well.
If you could steal one artwork from our collection, what would it be?
There’s many that I would love to have, but I think that Frederic Edwin Church’s The Iceberg is a current favorite. When you see it in the gallery (it hangs in Scaife Gallery 6) in its huge gold frame, the whole thing glows. I love the detail that Church put in to the surface of the iceberg, and the bits where the ice shows through the water. It’s also not gigantic so I think it could look good on my walls.
Five things you can’t live without?
Insulin pump (I have Type 1 diabetes, so this one is literal!); running shoes; my dog, Walter; Holga 120S Camera; and Twitter.
Describe Pittsburgh in five words or less.
Big city, small town. (Seriously, everyone knows everyone here. I grew up here, and I can’t go a week without accidentally running in to someone who knows my dad, or my uncle, or my brother, or grew up in our old neighborhood, or our new neighborhood, or swam at the pool I worked at in high school, or my algebra teacher. I should do a data visualization of interpersonal connections in Pittsburgh.)
Favorite hobbies? Or any other projects you’d like to share?
My main hobby is running. I run commute from the museum to my husband’s office to car pool almost every day. I’ll be running my 10th marathon in October. Other than that, I am involved in the Registrar’s Committee of the American Alliance of Museums as the webmaster of rcaam.org, and I’m a Museum Assessment Program (MAP) peer reviewer. I also advocate and educate about Type 1 Diabetes, which I’ve has since the age of 9. When I get a chance, I wander around and take pictures of old buildings with a cheap plastic camera held together with electrical tape.