In a somewhat ironic and yet fitting twist of fate, on my last day as the Registrar for the Samek Art Gallery, I remembered having written this post below quite some time ago and for some reason simply saved it as a ‘draft.’ I will leave this post below as my parting words on the Samek Blog and sincere thank you to the many people who made it an exceptional five years. To the last man standing, my Director Richard Rinehart, “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.”
My job as the Registrar for the Samek is in a few ways very different from the typical registration position. Early museum registrars received their title because their main task was to sit at the entrance of the institution and record, in a register, basic information about each object that came into its collection. Still today, about 99.9% of a Registrar’s job involves working directly with objects and object records. The Registrar is, traditionally, not someone who the public interacts with. We are, typically, someone you would need a key or keycard to get to. We quietly sit way back in the depths of art storage and talk to the objects, our friends. (I kid, sort of.)
Here at the Samek, I have the perk of being able to interact with the public in our Collection Study Room. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Collection Study Room is a viewing space within the Samek footprint that anyone- faculty, students, classes, scholars or anyone in or outside of the campus community- can reserve time in to study works from our Museum Collection.
Literally, anyone at anytime can make an appointment with me to view any work in our collection- assuming I am available and the object(s) are stable for viewing. As the Collection Study Room manager, I have the ability to present to students about art works, hear presentations from faculty in various disciplines across campus, witness reactions to works of arts and “see” art through others’ perspectives. My background is in studio art- photography, specifically- and I will be the first to admit that I am not an art historian so this aspect of my job allows me to grow my knowledge of artists, mediums and movements/styles/periods. It also allows me to feel directly connected to the educational mission of the Samek and Bucknell University.
Sure, there are other perks of being the Samek Registrar. I get to study incredible works of art closer than almost anyone else; I get to touch art, examine it with a magnifying glass, and learn all the secrets of an objects past- who once owned it and what it is “worth”; I hold the keys and control the access to millions of dollars worth of art (Bwwaahaahaa!); I get to pick anything I want from our collection for my office walls and get to help others across campus select work for their offices and departmental spaces; and I get to help select new acquisitions to the collection. (Well, I made up that last one, but I am ready with plenty of suggestions if Rick ever asks for my opinion!) But in all honesty, while I do not have the glamorous sounding title of Curator or Director, I still get to work with art all day, everyday and I get to work with Bucknell students and faculty. I’m a lucky, lucky Registrar!