Category Archives: Work

Gallery of the Louvre

I know this is not the type of picture you expect on this blog, but it’s one that been on my mind lately as I’ve worked on our new exhibit. This painting will not be in our exhibit, but it is one that I came across while doing research for our exhibit. The painting above is titled Gallery of the Louvre and was painted by Samuel F. B. Morse between 1831–33. Morse  is better known today for his invention of the electromagnetic telegraph—and for “Morse” code—but he began his career as a painter and rose to the Presidency of the National Academy of Design in New York. Morse always wanted to be known as a great painter and never liked the fame he received for his invention. That could be because he got the idea from someone else, although the name escapes me at the moment.

The monumental Gallery of the Louvre (it measures  73.75 in. x 108 in.) is Morse’s masterwork. It is currently owned by the Terra Foundation for American Art as part of the Daniel J. Terra Collection. Gallery of the Louvre  was Morse’s ambitious effort to capture images of the Louvre’s great paintings and transport them across the ocean and throughout the country, to the republic’s young cities and villages, so that art and culture could grow there.

Morse was one of the major historical figures I researched while I was writing my (never completed) dissertation. While this is an unusual post for me, I have had such a great time delving into my old research again to prepare for this exhibit, and I wanted to share some of it. It’s been a lot of work, and I’ve been incredibly busy. So, if my posts are not exactly substantial for the next couple of weeks, it’s because my creative endeavors have been focused elsewhere, and considering that I’m not a very creative person, there isn’t much creativity to spare at the moment, but I’ll continue to do my best.

The people in Gallery of the Louvre are real people known to Morse, and the paintings within the painting are famous works from the Louvre. One of the people is Morse himself.

1) Samuel F. B. Morse
2) Titian’s Francis I, 1539
3) The American writer James Fenimore Cooper, his wife Susan, and their daughter also named Susan
4) American sculptor Horatio Greenough, who was probably most famous for the monstrosity that he sculpted of George Washington (which could be a whole other post in itself)
5) Richard West Habersham, a young American portraitist from Georgia, who was Morse’s roommate in Paris
6) Possibly a woman named Miss Joreter, who took lessons from Morse in the Louvre
7) Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of Lisa Gherardini, known famously as the Mona Lisa


Museums

I’ve always enjoyed museums. I love history and art, so museums are right up my alley. I guess it’s a good thing since I now work in a museum. Before I started working full-time at my current museum, I don’t think I’d really ever thought about what went into the exhibits that you see in museums. Most museums have permanent exhibits that rarely change, but most also have changing exhibits. Those changing exhibits are a lot of work, something I had realized before I started helping install them.

What I really never realized is how much planning goes into creating an exhibit. Once you have a topic, then there is a lot of research to be done on both the topic and the objects to be put on display. Then the labels telling visitors about what is on display have to be written. Sometimes, those labels are what we call tombstone labels: object name, material, collection number, and how the museum acquired the object. Other labels are longer, interpretive labels which tell a fuller story of the object. These labels can be the most fascinating, but a lot of work goes into writing and researching them.

Until the current exhibit that we are installing, which will open early next month, I had only conducted minor research, written interpretive labels, and assisted with the installation. While our upcoming exhibit is mostly art and contains only a few interpretive labels, there is still a lot of work that goes into planning. Most of that work has fallen on me because the topic of the art in the exhibit is very similar to my dissertation research. Also, our other curator had left and our new one did not start until two and a half weeks ago. So, I’ve been planning paint colors for the gallery, choosing artwork to be featured and the frames for that artwork, and designing the layout of the exhibit. All of that has been in the planning stage for months. Now, comes the harder part: putting it all together.

Last week, we decided what paintings would go where, and yesterday we began hanging the artwork. By the way, there is a lot of math involved in hanging artwork, something I’m not good at. Thankfully, our new curator is. She is very precise, and she knows what she’s doing. It’s now all coming together, and it’s nice to see what had been in my head for months now in reality. There is still a lot to do, but we seem to be mostly on schedule, as long as we don’t get another 11.5” of snow that prevents most people from making it in to work. (knock on wood)

If you’ve never thought before about the installation process for the exhibits when you visit a museum, look around the exhibit and try to understand just how much hard work went into installing the exhibit that you are admiring. There are a lot of jobs out there that we don’t often appreciate how much work goes into them, which is why I am always as kind as I can be to waitstaff at a restaurant. I know they are working hard. This is alao why I hate the saying, “Those who can do, those who can’t teach.”

Teachers do far more work than most people think. A good teacher is always trying to anticipate their students needs and are constantly planning for their classes, and while most people think that teachers work from 8 am to 3 pm, the average person (and student) doesn’t realize that a teacher’s day begins well before they head to school and continues long after they get home. Most teachers get a one hour planning period each day, and while you can grade papers and prepare assignments during that hour, an hour is nowhere near long enough. Teachers often work well into the night getting everything done, and they often do it with low pay.

In other words, look around you today and realize just how much work the people around you are doing so that your day is a bit more enjoyable. Be considerate to others and appreciate all the people around you.


Working Saturday

Saturday and Sunday, our morning low will be -12 with dangerously cold wind chills between -30 and -45. Normally, I’d stay inside my nice warm apartment, but tomorrow is my Saturday to work. I took this Saturday because I went down to Dartmouth on Monday, so I took Monday off and am making up for it tomorrow. Normally, I’d have taken a sick day for a doctor’s appointment, but with all of my doctor’s appointments lately, I’m running low on sick days. 

Up until about two years ago, we were getting six months of sick leave a year. Yes, I know that’s a bit ridiculous, but the idea had been that if we had enough sick time, then we wouldn’t feel pressured to come to work when we were sick. Then, we got a new Human Resources Director who decided that our benefits should be brought more inline with industrial standards. So, in the process, we’ve been dropped down to twenty sick days that accrue over the course of the year. He also cut our vacation time and raised the cost of our insurance. We are paying more, but getting less benefits. So far, he hasn’t meddled with our retirement, which is supposed to be very good. The matching benefits that the university pays is supposed to be an incentive for people to come work at a university in rural Vermont. That’s what our other benefits were supposed to be as well.


This post was supposed to be about working on Saturday, not a rant about the benefits at my university. Saturday workdays aren’t bad. Usually, there is nothing to do, which is the worst part, but it also means it’s very quiet. Also, there is usually some cute cadet who comes in to get extra work study hours. All any of us really do on Saturdays is watch Netflix or something similar. On a normal day, we don’t have many Saturday visitors, and on a day when the wind chill could be -40 degrees, it is unlikely anyone will come in. I’ll be bundled up and park close to the door, so I’m only out in the cold for a very short time. I’ll be in the cold longer walking from my apartment to my car then from my car to the museum. 

 When Sunday comes along, I don’t plan on stepping foot out of my apartment. Although, I might have a friend, i.e. hookup, coming over. He actually came by to see me at the museum yesterday. We’ve been chatting for about a week or so, and he was in the area, so he came by. I showed him the museum, and we flirted a bit. He didn’t stay too long. There wasn’t a lot to show him since we only have one gallery open right now as we install the new exhibit in the other gallery. I’m hoping if we get together on Sunday, he’ll be showing me a lot more. 😉


A Very Busy Week

I am so tired.

I have spent most of my workday helping to settle in our new curator. She seems to be settling in nicely. Plus, we are installing a new exhibit. While I am enjoying most of what I’m doing right now at work, it doesn’t make it any less tiring. Today though will be a break from all of that as I have webinars all day. This is not something I am looking forward to doing. Over the course of this pandemic, I have learned just how much I hate webinars. There are only two positives to webinars: 1) you can attend lectures and workshops that you would not have normally been able to attend because they are so far away, and 2) you can actually do other work when you have to attend one even though you’re not interested in it because no one can see you, especially if you don’t turn on your webcam.

My evenings have been pretty busy too as I help a dear friend navigate some online applications. I really think that online applications with overly cautious cybersecurity make many things too complicated. Far too often, all of the things that are supposed to make our lives easier end up being way too complicated. It seems like the more technologically advanced we become as a society, the more complicated life seems to be. Wasn’t technology supposed to simplify life, not make it more difficult? It can be very frustrating. I’d do anything for this friend, so I don’t mind in the least helping. I just wish this was easier for her.


TGIF: Last Day for 2021

Today is my last day at work for 2021. We were granted a few extra days from our usual week and a half holiday break for “going above and beyond” during extenuating circumstances during the pandemic. When I return to work on January 3, our new curator will be joining us. I am looking forward to some much-needed time off, and while I don’t think I will be eager to go back to work on January 3, I am looking forward to our new curator starting. She’s going to be hitting the ground running as we have several projects we are working on that she will play an integral part.

Normally, we don’t get two whole weeks for the holidays. I usually take a few extra days to fly home and spend time with my family, but I am not going home for the holidays this year. I am perfectly fine spending the holiday on my own. Maybe it will hit me closer to Christmas that I am here on my own and away from my family, but for now, I am okay with it. I really did not want to fly home and have to wear a mask for 12 hours straight. I know there are people in various industries that do that all the time, but with my trigeminal neuralgia (TN), if I wear a mask for more than an hour or so, the pain gets pretty bad.

Speaking of my TN, I got some disappointing news yesterday: the results of my sleep study. I had assumed my sleep apnea had improved with my weight loss, and it had improved significantly. However, I am just above how much it needed to improve to be eligible for the Inspire implant therapy. I am not sure what the next step might be. The sleep clinic had told me that if it had not lowered enough that I could continue to lose weight and try again in the future. The question then become: Will my insurance pay for a third sleep study, especially a second in clinic sleep study? I suspect the answer is no. I have Cigna health insurance, and their initial answer to everything is no. Usually, they can be convinced to change their mind, but not always. Don’t get me started on what is wrong with an insurance company, and not my doctor, deciding what is best for my health.

I have also continued to be nauseated and have a headache. Part of that is the weather systems that have passed through Vermont. Tomorrow, we are expecting some rough weather, we are expecting 1-3” of snow accumulation during the day on Saturday and another 3-5” tomorrow night. Also, after today, we will not see temperatures above freezing for the foreseeable future. It looks like winter is here to stay.


Painting and Exhibits

I took a sick day yesterday and stayed home. We are getting the museum ready to install a new exhibit, so we have someone there painting the gallery where the new exhibit is going. Normally, it doesn’t bother me too much, but he’s also painting the two offices on either side of me and the hallway outside my office. (My office did not need to be painted, for which I am very thankful.) With that being said, the paint fumes got to me on Tuesday and caused me to have a headache and get a bit nauseated. Even though I kept the door shut to my office, I do occasionally have to leave my office, so I could not completely avoid the paint fumes. When I woke up yesterday with a bad headache and still slightly nauseated, I just called in sick and stayed home. I knew it would get worse if I’d gone into work.

The new exhibit will be interesting. I usually only help when needed for exhibits, but because our exhibits person left and the new one does not start until January 3, I have been the one who has mostly curated this exhibit. With some help from my colleagues, I chose what paintings and objects we would use. I have also designed the exhibit layout. I hope it all comes together as I have it planned. Most of the times, exhibits are planned, but for various reasons things change here and there. Rarely do they look like what they were originally envisioned to be. I don’t think that will be the case with this one. It’s largely my vision, so I hope I get to implement it the way I want. Technically, it’s going to be two exhibits in one gallery, something else that was my idea. One of the exhibit and a small part of the other correspond to my dissertation research. I am excited to put that research to good use. I’ll even be presenting a lecture on part of my research in February.

If all of this comes together as planned and is not changed by my coworkers, then I’ll be taking pictures of it and creating a portfolio of my work. I need to do that anyway with the classes I’ve taught for the museum and the public programs I have organized. Now, I can add exhibit preparation to my skill set.

By the way, our painter is nowhere near as cute as the one above. He’s a nice guy, but he’s not much to look at.


I Forgot

I’m attending a virtual conference this week, and it is just as boring as you can imagine. The conference is one I have to attend for work, but few of the sessions even remotely interest me. So, yesterday I was preparing to listen to one of the sessions when they began to introduce it and say that it would begin with breakout sessions to discuss how we deal with this particular topic at our museum. I’d tuned in hoping to hear about how we could implement what they were supposed to be discussing, and they wanted me to talk about how I did something that I was there to learn how to do. I was not in the mood. I had no desire to be part of a group discussion when I knew very little about the topic, and I was in no mood to be interactive with anyone. So, I logged out of the session and decided to read some articles I’d planned on reading. One in particular I found fascinating and wanted to share it in my blog post today.

I began to write my post intending to finish it and email it to myself. I did finish writing the post, but then I got distracted and forgot to send it to myself. I’ll post it tomorrow. It’s on my office computer and I did not have access to it from home to post today. In other words, stay tuned.


Eventful/Busy Day

The eventful part of today s that my boss is supposed to announce his decision on who we will be hiring for our open curator position. I will be very happy if he follows my advice and hires the person I recommended. If he doesn’t, not only will I be very hurt but also disappointed. In my opinion, there was really only one choice, but other people had other opinions. The committee was deadlocked 2-2 with my boss having to make the final decision. If he goes against my recommendation, I feel like he does not value my opinion, and he better have a damn good excuse for choosing anyone other than the person I suggested, since my chosen candidate is clearly more qualified, something he admitted last week. I just have to wait and see.

The boring busy part of today and this whole week is that I have a virtual conference to attend on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Honestly, is there anything more boring than a virtual conference? Academic and professional conferences are rarely exciting and only mildly interesting if you are one of the people presenting. They are only made exciting by getting to travel somewhere and meeting and mingling with people in person. None of that is actually possible during a virtual conference. They will have “cocktail” hours and virtual hangouts, but it is not the same. At a virtual conference, you get to sit at a computer screen and listen to other people talk about topics that you thought might be interesting according to the description given in the conference program that always turn out to be completely different from what you expected.

The other busy part of my day will be a class I will be teaching this afternoon. I always really enjoy teaching classes, especially classes where I get to show off objects from the museum’s collection. I usually prefer to use ten or more objects when I teach, unless there is an object or a few objects that have an interesting story to tell, because then, I have enough to talk about. However, the collection this professor is interested in is a small one of about four objects, and they don’t tell a very compelling story. However, I’ll figure out something to say to make it interesting.


What a Mess!

Yesterday, the job search committee I’m on met for what was supposed to be a final discussion of the candidates for the job. It turned out to be more contentious than it should have been, and when it was over I had a massive headache. Two people want a candidate that during the interview process it became clear she was only half qualified for the position. It was clear to me, my boss, and one other committee member, so I can’t understand why the other two committee members can’t see that. On the other hand, there is one candidate that is fully qualified for the position that I and one other committee member were championing. My boss who admits one is more suited for the job than the other won’t make a decision because he’s “on the fence” and doesn’t want to make the final decision. Just grow a pair and make the right decision! If he’s not going to or can’t make the final decision, then listen to the one person on the committee who this person will work with the most: me. So, no decision was made, and my boss is going to call references (something I think should have already been done). He will report back to us what the references say, and we’ll go from there. This process should not be this difficult, and it’s only difficult because my boss has been so incompetent during the process. One candidate was not a good fit, and two of them seemed like they’d fit more in with our group. Of the two, one is clearly more qualified than the other. Why is this being made so difficult? The choice is clear.


Final Interview

The last of our job candidates for the other curator position will be at the museum today. So far, this candidate has been at the top of the list for all of us on the search committee. Now, we will see if he lives up to our expectations in person. He seems perfect for the position from everything we’ve seen so far. My only concern is that he may be overqualified for the position. I guess there could be worse things in a job candidate. One of the members of the search committee calls him the unicorn, a rare but perfect fit. We’ll see. 

One thing that will really interests me is how he will be dressed. I’ve always thought it was a little easier for a woman to be able to wear a dress or pants suit that is not over dressy but not too casual either. A man usually has two options: business or casual. Although, I guess business casual is an option, but I don’t think I’ve ever fully understood business casual. He could wear a suit that’s not too formal, and that could work. However, in my opinion, if he were to be too casual, like my boss often is, I would not feel that he was taking us serious enough. However, there can be a nice in between. I think the outfit above would be right on the line of being too casual, but I would find it acceptable, although the pants the guy above is wearing are a little too casual in my opinion.

While today’s candidate may be the unicorn of the group, I think the first one we interviewed in person was the Goldilocks of the bunch. She seemed to have the right amount of qualifications and experience without having too much, but I may be the only one who thinks that way. However, I did spend the most time with her and got a chance to get to know her better. I also think I could work really well with her. She was intelligent, funny, and very LGBTQ+ friendly. I find it a major plus that she loves drag shows. I feel like she’s a woman I could work with easily and collaborate with.

The second candidate was nice and very friendly, but I don’t believe she has the right experience. There are two parts to this job, and while she is very qualified in one area, I could not get a sense that she had enough qualifications in the other area. Some of my colleagues seem poised to overlook that. Plus, after her interview, she had no questions for us. The first candidate had a lot of questions for us that were well thought out. I never have many questions after an interview, but I always try to have some. I’ve found that if you don’t have questions, it leaves a bad impression. There are always some good standard questions that could be used for interviews no matter the job. It just shows interest, or that’s what I’ve always been told.

This whole process makes me very nervous. First of all, I think my boss has handled the whole job search and interview process very ineptly and unprofessionally. He just doesn’t know what he’s doing, and while I can often steer him in the right direction, he has not been following my advice on any of this. Second, I will be working very closely with this person, or at least I should be if they do their job correctly as a team member. I want someone I will be very comfortable with and will get along with easily. I tend to work better with women than men, but there have been a few exceptions to that rule. This whole process just fills me with anxiety.