Working at MoMA: How Does a Collection Specialist Do His Job?

Automatic TRANSCRIPT

The. You're listening to working the show about what people do all day. I'm your host, Jordan Weisman. And I am very excited to welcome you to a brand new season for the next ten episodes. We're going inside the museum of modern art, New York City. Now, I love museums. I only museum nut when I'm on vacation. I'll spend hours and hours and hours dragging my wife through museums wherever we are in the world, but the same time they are also sort of scariest institutions to me. I mean, how does a one hundred million dollar piece of canvas up on wall? So that bunch of people can just come by take selfies with every day. I I don't know. I don't know how that he's canvas ends up there, or at least I didn't really have an idea until I started doing these interviews with the folks at MoMA the museum very generously set me up with curator's exhibition designers and a security guard. So I could get a sense of how the ones and just how it all. Comes together. This is going to be a series for people who like are who'd like museums who you know, you go to the metropolitan near you. Go to Leuven, you're on vacation, Paris, you go to MoMA to go look at starry night, but aren't necessarily an obsessive or an expert. You're not reading art forum checking out auction results. This is a series for people who like looking at paintings and photography some of the people we talked to like, I said are going to have jobs. They you definitely think of when you hear the word museum like ureter or a security guard, and some of them are going to be people with jobs you've never ever heard of like Paul Galloway who I am talking. To today's episode all is a collection specialist at MoMA. What is it collection specialist? I'm not gonna spend too much time explaining that. I'm gonna let him explain that. But for now just sort of think of him as the nerve center as department we're going to go from there. I hope you enjoy. What's your name? And what do you do? My name is Paul Galloway. I'm the collection specialist for the department of architecture and design at MoMA. So before I ask you describe that a little bit more detail. What that actually means? I just want to tell listeners that polish shown up here with a long list of talking points. What's involved in his job? Which is actually the first time. I've ever seen a guest do this before is ever walked in. Just like, okay. I've got seven points about how I'm going to describe my work, which tells me either something about your personality or something about the job you do. So what exactly is a collection specialist? Right. So in my defense. It's also just sort of when people ask me what my job is. I often go a little glassy eyed and try to remember what do I do because it's can feel like really opposite things happening one minute after the other, but a collection specialist at MoMA. Very broadly. Speaking is the knowledge keeper they access point the kind of overall steward of the knowledge and information about the collection. So in architecture, and design my responsibility includes everything from acquisitions conservation cataloguing support exhibition research, framing loans research lecture, I serve on juries. And so it can it can really feel like those duties are really all over the place. Which is why I have to write them down. Working is brought to you by American Express. If you wanna business funding is essential. American Express offers eligible card members, flexible funding solutions business loans, the powerful backing of American Express don't do business without it. Visit American Express dot com slash business or details. We have a favorite ass. Our partner is conducting a survey and would be grateful for your help in answering a few questions, it will take less than ten minutes of your time and participation helps support our advertisers. Please go to slate. Listening dot com to complete the survey. Now, thank you. So I feel like a lot of this episode might turn into me trying to find a metaphor to kind of wrap all that together even possible. But so what you're describing their sounds a little bit like a little bit of like a database like human database sort of. And also, you're like end, you're the caretaker you're the gardener for the for this collection to think of myself as a shaman a shaman. Okay. I'll get a little bit of a shaman. Okay. So I think in order to understand job. I have to know what this collection is right. You know, most museums don't have an architecture and design department. So what is that? Yeah. There's there's only a handful in the United States that have them. Ours is the largest of these collections, and it's pretty broad so architecture is a broad field and design is an extremely broad field. So we have everything from drawings architecture for architecture. We have everything but the building itself, right? So we have drawings photographs models digital files. Cad drawings for design. It gets even more kind of all over the place. We have a helicopter. We have cars. We have an ice cream cone where you have graphic design posters printed. Ephemera? We've got software works video games. We've got the original doklam oh emoji. We've even got performance work to works performance architecture performance architecture. Yeah. There were multiple points in that list where I was like, wait what? Ice cream cone. We have an ice cream cone in storage. Just like it is we smushed one a few years ago. So I had to go and replace it. Luckily, Ben and Jerry's at Rockfeller center makes a really good ice cone. So I went down there and I purchased one. And I really wanted to change the credit line for the work gift of Paul Galloway because I spent fifty cents on this is fun fact, if you go to Ben and Jerry's you can ask for just the ice cream cone, and they will sell it to you for fifty cents important information. If you're starting if you or if you just are really into the cone and not the ice cream. Okay. So you've got everything from digital files to models of buildings to said emoji. Yeah. Including the original emoji that were released in nineteen ninety nine in Japan. And that's that a digital file is that like drying? What is that? It's digital files essentially, the image files that were used on the the cell phones at the time interesting. And so when you're storing that as a museum, you're not storing the only copy of those files. In the world, you're storing or are you we're storing a copy it's the same way if you have a photo collection. Odds are you don't have the only copy of a photo by Man Ray, or there's other copies of but you're storing your copy in your committing to taking care of that copy, everybody else's copies could get blown up. And then you are the source of record for these things. And then you, but then you're also storing cars as well in your cars, motorcycles, bicycles surfboards. We're does all this storage happen for like is there just a giant warehouse somewhere where where do you keep it all and is it altogether? Yeah. It's all together. The museum has storage onsite at the museum of modern, art and Manhattan. We also have a facility out in Long Island city slash Sunnyside, depending on where you draw the border that's called MoMA queens during the expansion in the early two thousand relocated the museum while they were expanding ten Gucci expansion. So that facility was MoMA for a couple of years and that. It has now been re purposed as exclusively storage and research facility. And I guess this is kind of the context that anybody would need to understand this. But you know, what you see them using? It's a little bit of an iceberg. Right. You're only seeing a little piece of the collection. That's there. Yes. And the rest of it is in these storage centers. And that's where you have to be. That's where you come in. Yeah. It's what you see on the wall is what we can have the space available to share with the public at that. Any anyone time? But that should always be seen as a story that it's being told by the curator's at that moment, there's thousands of stories that can be told with what's in in storage behind. So it's it's interesting that we're limited as to how much we can have out at any one moment, but we're still caretakers of everything else. And they're still that potential for stories and MoMA has also has a very active outgoing loan program. We've loan lend hundreds and hundreds of works every year to other museums partner with other museums to do stuff with our collection. So. Even though quite a lot is in storage that still a pretty active amount that stuff has a life, and it's used so to some extent, you're an archivist is another way if they in one way in one way to again to try and simplify, but didn't you said you also play a role and actually acquiring this stuff. Yeah. So did you play a role in Quiring the emoji? I did. Okay. That seems like a good example. So take me through where how did you acquire the emoji? So the project started with Michelle Miller Fisher and Pella Pella is our senior curator of design trying to think of some more humble masterpieces politic very influential show in the early two thousand called humble masterpieces that tried to look at some of the greatest example of design that happened in a very simple manner like that little pencil that you have gone on the classic yellow wouldn't pencils or the post it note, which seems like just a piece of paper, but actually three him engineering that kind of sticky stuff that releases was a real feat of engineering so this exhibition she did. Was meant to call attention to objects that we often take for granted. But actually have a very rich design process behind them. So they Michelle and Palo were trying to rethink this process and came up with one of them being the emoji. So I started working with them on this process, and we figured out where emoji came from. It was a really interesting thing to research and learn so they were originally released by a company called NT DOCOMO, which is kind of the Verizon wireless of Japan, gigantic telecom. So the process is I send an Email into the ether saying, hey, we want your stuff and then weeks go by and then I say, hey, hey, people, and they finally get a response from PR personnel. Like, what are you talking about? When when you sent an Email saying, I'm from MoMA, and I wanna add your piece or your work to my collection. Do you usually get a response? We usually get a response, thankfully, being a pretty well known museum does open some doors, but. When you're talking, and this is the same thing that we encountered when we acquired video games, you Email, Nintendo, or Sony and say you want to do this and their first response or doklam. Oh, the first response is always what do you wanna do what? They're that's confusion. Yeah. I I guess the question why do you want? What do you wanna copy of our game? Why do you want a copy of our of our emoji, especially when something is vastly obsolete? Right. You're talking about emoji from nineteen ninety nine. Nobody's using these things anymore. They have no monetary value to the company or what the same could be said of Sony when we're trying to choir a game from the late nineties that has no monetary value anymore. So you're talking you're trying to help them think of something as having cultural value that they're only used to framing a monetary sense. Right. So it it it often takes a while to sort of twist their brains around your essentially convincing them to take their own work. Seriously, these things especially in the digital world. These things have a life. Dan, they put them out. And then they're already onto the next thing. Right. The thing is and as long as it's still making the money, they're going to pay attention to it. But the moment is no longer making money. It's forgotten. Well, let me ask the philosophical question. Why doesn't matter? Why should they why doesn't matter? If MoMA has a copy of the file in their warehouse on their servers, the burry storing a digital fires a thumb drive somewhere. It's a digital file. Yeah. So why does it matter? If Mullah has file why does it matter if we have any our work? The point of a museum is to highlight certain cultural products that are worthy of great attention. Right. So it's our job to say look at this Cezanne or look at this work by Frank Lloyd Wright, these are really great monuments and chievements and human history, and we should be aware of the creativity. That's going on around us part of the mission of an architecture and design department is to bring forward things that we really take for granted things we use chair. Bears buildings are the most invisible of all we just use them. We don't stop actually look at them. So that takes even more work to make people focus on and look at and we found that the story of how emoji which are now. So embedded in our lives had a really fascinating origin story that we just felt the world should note. So they they can kind of think more critically about these things. And I guess to a large extent putting that file on your server or putting that ice cream cone in your house is making the statement. That's that's real. It's the action of doing it. That's you're saying it's your area. You guys are say, okay. This is an that that you're you're putting your stamp of approval or whatnot. Yeah. It's it's really try by using our loud megaphone because we we do have a loud voice and a very prominent voice. We can call attention to things that say, a smaller nonprofit or smaller institution. Just couldn't get as much attention on these things as we can. So you send the mail. I need you get a baffled response. And then you start trying to expose. To them. What you just explained to me? What do you do next how how did the process on fold? Well, so it was both talking to doklam and also talking to the original creator. She could talk could eat to who was the designer working at DOCOMO in the nineties when they were trying to create the system called I'm owed, which was really the first mobile internet on a cell phone in the late nineties in Japan. They were way ahead of us in terms of cell phone says sure, you know, so she could taco was helpful people. Don't komo. We're actually once we finally got them to think about what we were trying to do they were really on board. And then it just became a question of what does it mean for moment to own these things right, and which gets into some really interesting legal entanglements. And what does it mean to own digital file or intellectual property and international law? Applies to that all gets really fascinating for anybody. Who's interested in law and for everybody else, they'd probably eyes glazing over. Well, no, I can I I don't know if it's possible to give a elevator pitch. But what does it mean for moment to own that, vile? It means we have the right to use the file within the walls of the museum. We can show it. However, we choose and we can print it. We can blow it up. We can show it on screens. We can use the works as the curator's decide. Right. So there's no real restrictions on how these things are used and most crucially they can never be taken away from us. So in the same way that you do if there's a prewar painting from Germany, you're going to do very clear provenance research to make sure there's no like questionable ownership history because you can't bring something into the museum. If there's a chance that it could be taken away the same holds true with digital artifacts. So if it's a video game made by Sony, or if it's these emoji they need to come in. And we need to know that they can never be taken away. And it's what's interesting is that you could make a fair use claim right under US copyright law to do a lot of these things. But if you get into copyright law long enough, you'll quickly find out that the United States system is really idiot and not well Tae. Tailored to digital ownership of things. Right. So by creating kind of one to one arrangement with these companies, you get very clear what the museum can do with it. And it doesn't matter what copyright law does copyright law can change it can get better. It can get worse, but all of that's relevant because we have a very clear arrangement an agreement with these companies. So when the museum and the company are working out, this kind of arrangement what's your role on all at that point? What are you doing? I'm trying to make lawyers happy, which is I'm trying to make the MoMA lawyers happy, and I'm trying to make the IP lawyers at a big tech companies happy to at this point. I could have a second career in making lawyers feel warm and fuzzy about what they do. So are you sort of acting as almost negotiator is that going back and forth between and it's really both trying to understand the legal concerns of parties, both our side and the other side, but also trying to keep the discussion on the kind of what? Museum is trying to do with these things and to continue to frame the debate and negotiations of an around that will give the museum the most latitude and the most freedom and will really give us the best tools to honor the creators of these things to tell the story. Well, do you have any kind of a law background or I have zero law background? Okay. Because that's interesting because it seems like a lot of what you're doing is negotiating over legal rights. It's fun to learn on the job. Can is what was your background? Did you get into this? My background is actually in fine, art and drawing and painting art history. I had no background at all in architecture or design or contract negotiation or contract, negotiate. Is that common is that how people usually end up in collection specialist role. It's it really varies. So there's a collection specialist for each department at the museum and our roles. Do vary quite a lot and that has to do with the nature of our collection. My colleague and photography tasha is dealing with photographic prints and digital files and things like that as well. That's a very different kind of set of responsibilities and needs than say, I have or the colleague in film. Ashley. So it's really there is no like one clear are is the half to this is the is your colleague deals of photographic prints. Thinking more about like storage issues, and preventing it from the prints from yellowing kind of thing. There's there's conservation issues. There's acquisition this you loans and exhibitions we're called in as support for exhibitions and research. So it's I mean tasha is a walking dictionary for all things photography at the museum. This up sort of working is made possible by Comcast business. Business has always been driven by innovators entrepreneurs and disrupters people who've embrace change, but it can only happen with the right partners. That's why Comcast built the nation's largest gig speed network the network powering innovation, but you need more than speed. So Comcast businesses moving beyond beyond connecting business. Helping you provide better experience or customers and employees beyond network complexity zero touch one boss network solutions beyond the best for your money to the best for your business at an even greater value. The company that delivers unrelenting speed is also the company with smart technologies and advanced application beyond what any other provider provides Comcast business beyond fast. Take your business beyond at Comcast business dot com. That's Comcast business dot com today. Now, we're talking about you dealing with the emoji. Let's come back to the ice cream cone does that have all the same legal rigamarole. No cone and put that in the that's the nice thing about physical objects. When you have it you have it. So when we acquire things I often love it when we get a drawing because then it's like, okay, I've got this piece of paper. Here's a drawing done. Right. The session number on the back put it in storage. And that's simplifying. There are actually a lot of concerns for those things. So with the ice cream cone, this was part of the humble masterpieces show, and it included as I said post, it notes bandaids Eminem's sugar cubes and the ice cream cone, which is as you can imagine you take an ice cream cone and stick in storage for a few years, it's going to get brittle. So we went to go check on the storage because we periodically check on these things, and it had been smushed inside. It's very carefully packed topic and tissue paper. And but as I scream cones will do when they get seven years old it got smooshed. So we needed a replacement. How did you pick the specific cone what kind of comb was sugar cone or waffle waffle cone? Because all right. So the idea is that the waffle cone is actually one of those design objects whose history is kind of invisible we all sort of accept it is an innovation by Sergio much Uni in the I think it's the late nineteenth century, the kind of famous story runs out of cups and bowls for his ice cream. There's a waffle Dutch waffle maker nearby takes probably mangle in the story, by the way. He takes one twisted into corn like in an emergency. Dammit. I'll just screaming this thing Tada turns into a brilliant invention. So we've found in our research that the closest equivalent currently being made too much ice cream cone is that made by Bennie Jerry's. Oh, interesting. Eric keeping the traditional they're keeping the traditional. It's an extremely close to the original idea. And so your job is to make sure that you can go you can get it put it in sergeant that I mean, I guess most you can you can re I did a little beauty pageant thing. So we. Laid out like ten cones the people behind me in line Lima real thrilled with this. And I was like I don't know co number a 'cause it's got a little bit of malformed bottom. I go at Combe number. See did you explain this to the people in line? Yeah. They thought it was hilarious. This is the Ben and Jerry's people thought this was really fun. So yeah. I mean, I it's better than another scoop. I guess or it's more interesting. So you've got this really vast and varied collection that you're overseeing that you're shining. So I guess you also have to be an expert on actually how to store this stuff. Right. Yeah. We I work with a preparer name, Pamela, pope's, who's her duties ten more toward dealing with the physical nature of the things. How to store them properly how to handle them? I tend to be more than knowledge and thoughts shaman, and she's Oga. So she's actually you've got someone whose job is just to make sure that the car is not scratched that the ice is not smoke. That the that the designs for the building all, you know, kept in perpetuity, and then your jobs to know how I guess that's all being handled. What's going on and how to get it? Yeah. So we really kind of work in tandem on those kind of collection care needs. So you've got the collection care stuff, which you work with partner on you've got the acquisition stuff. And then like, what's the what are the other big buckets again loans? So we have a very rich outgoing loan program. Both exhibitions generated by other museums that they want to borrow something from us and also exhibitions generated in partnership with MoMA weeded to very large ones in the last year and a half or so we did one in Australia last year and also wanna fundation Louis Vitton and Paris, both of which took very large amounts of MoMA art works to these places. And in some cases, involved really complex projects like in Paris at the Louis Vuitton foundation. We for the first time installed a artwork that we acquired twenty fifteen which was a very large chunk. Of their original facade curtain wall of the UN secretary at building. Okay. So thirteen feet high and twelve feet wide massive the original like, aluminum and steel and glass skin of the building because they had to completely replace the curtain wall on the secretary. And we had it. You've just had that sitting in your warehouse since two thousand fifteen. Yeah. So it's like, how do you? How do you keep that thing very carefully because some of the classes very fragile? But the the bigger question was not so much. How do we keep it? It's how to show it because this thing is the skin of a building. But it doesn't stand up on its own. It's the skin it hangs onto a building. So we had to essentially create a kind of structure that can hang this things. So that people could see it and that involved working with architects and engineers trying to figure this out. So that was so when I say something like an outgoing loan. That's not just here's this drawing. It's often. All right here. We have these pieces of the United Nations building. How do we show them? And so it can be even. Alone can still be a very involved process. So again, tell me like when you were figuring that out what were you personally doing where you going back and forth between an architect to is. You know, coming up with the designs, or what was what was your role? My role was the kind of project manager. So I was working with our curator's. Our chief creator Martino steely, and Sean Anderson and other curator Barry bergdahl, former chief curator, and the engineering firm that we did the curtain wall, which is Heinsohn associates, very big curtain wall engineering firm in New York to kind of frame the debate as to how what is it? We want this object to tell this a piece of a building. How do we want to show this to people that will give them the clearest understanding of what it meant to be a Colonel the UN secretary, by the way, it was the first curtain wall building skyscraper in the United States. So it's really kind of sitting in between all of these different parties. Metal fabricators engineers architects curator's to kind of. Bring the project to fruition to to end that best speaks to and represents the ideas behind it when you are loaning artwork. Is it typically another institution comes to you and says, we know you have this in your collection. We would love to show it ourselves or this. There's some travelling show, or is it you proposing something to them so MoMA generally is the recipient of these things. Some museums are in the business of putting together big shows and kind of selling them to other institutions doesn't really do that so much which museums sort of do that or the Victorian Albert museum in London has a long history putting together incredible exhibitions that are meant to be toured and go around feature design museum, which is in Germany, there's and then other museums pay for the rights to to show that vision. So you're you're typically getting requests from other institutions, we're getting requests, the the two exhibitions we did recently in Australia and in Paris were kind of jointly organized between us than these borrowing institution. And so that was a little bit in between the two it's not exactly them coming to us. And it's on exactly generating it. It was sort of done together with these institutions and sume you're the one who's fielding a lot of those requests, I'm feeling all of your fielding all of their quests. So what typically are other institutions asking for from your guys? Well, it's interesting because you can imagine if you're talk to my colleague, Lilli, Goldberg and painting and sculpture, she probably gets a request for a demo day Avignon or starry night. Like every five minutes is that request ever. Get granted. No. Although I think starring I did go out because we organize co organized a Van Gogh show maybe ten years ago with the Van Gogh museum. Okay. And so they gave us a lot of their great stuff to do a show here. And in return, we had to give them some great stuff to do the show there. That's the only time I can think of lily would know if there's other times things ever walked out the door. But there's definitely a lot of works. Like, absolutely no way. And oftentimes because of conservation concerns, if we're really concerned if this thing gets moved, and when you travel in artwork, it's a lot of danger. But go down as there's not much. There's nothing you can do at that point. It's it's a fiery wreck that you can get another ice cream common. They can get that's that not another starry night. But for your collection, the the architecture and design what typically are other institutions asking for. So it's it tends to be things that are unique to us one of the things in a design collection as you have things that there's other copies of those objects. Right. There's several things that are very unique to moments collection. And the two biggest ones the archives that we are in charge of. So we have the archive Frank Lloyd Wright, which we co own and co care for with the Avery architectural library at Columbia University. So we get a lot of requests for Frank Lloyd Wright's stuff, and we also have the archive of Meese Vandross, the great German American architect. So those two get probably the bulk of all of our loan requests. Because if you wanna do show on me spend or Frank Lloyd Wright, there's nowhere else to go, but to MoMA so how to US or questrom institution. What are you looking for when they're asking about it? Well, we're looking for or is this a serious exhibition is this one that actually does something for the kind of our mission is to support scholarship and a public understanding of these architects and to celebrate critical thinking of them. So is this exhibition furthering that aim or is it just some puff piece that somebody wants to put inside their hotel or something like that? So is it a serious exhibition with series scholarship is it going to get a good amount of viewership. Probably not. Gonna win to a museum very rural environment that nobody's going to go to is this going to actually get some traction. And then also there are works safe to travel, and it's not to say that we only have big famous museums. We did a great alone to amaze exhibition this past spring at the McCormick art museum. Elmhurst Illinois, not a huge well-known museum, but they did a fantastic exhibition. So it was one we wanted to support. So it's really trying to gauge the quality of the exhibition the quality request quest the quality of the institution is a safe place. Or are they just like a shed somewhere in Long Island city? Is it gonna burn down? Is it going to burn down as a professional staff? There's many many factors that go into it. Are you the one making that decision on your own or you working with other people on staff to make that call? So it's I'm again, the kind of node that everything comes so I- liaise with colleagues registrar's department colleagues and the conservation department our chief curator, our senior curator, it's really all of these voices come together to make this decision. And so you all you huddle outside. Yeah. And then you you have to send the back, then I'm the one that either gets to give the happy news or break some hearts. That's that's really interesting to me though. So you're the person who a lot of the smaller museums around America are basically coming to and asking we would really like to show this. Yeah. And you have to be your responsible for getting everyone together to make that decision and being a little bit the gatekeeper. Yeah. Okay. Another shaman gatekeeper archivist. Yeah. I mean, it's it's really a collection specialist is kind of the person behind the scenes. Yeah. The the creators are the public face of the department. They're the ones creating zek submissions proposing works fact positions, and we're the ones making it actually happen. So you weren't designed person when you came into this role. What dreams in the first place? I've always been interested in art. I used to be an artist myself of been fascinated by art since I was a little kid grew up mostly in Oklahoma, and Texas, and when I was I think ten years old we moved to Fort Worth which has a jewel box of museum called the Kimbler museum, which happens to also be an architectural masterpiece. It's Louis Kahn's udub beautiful building. And it's kind of like the Frick. So you know, how the Frick has of small collection, but it has just one incredible artwork? After the other like, a really great Goya, a really great whole bind and over and over and the Kimble's election is kind of like that too. It's small, but really chockablock with fantastic stuff for for people who've enough million Frick aller in in New York has also in this beautiful old robber, baron mentioned pretty much the only good thing. This man didn't his life was leave this mansion mind to turn into a fabulous museum. And he rated. Europe for some amazing artworks. Well, well done. He also he survived being shot by socialists at one point just to give you a sense of how awful Robert baron. He was but anyway, we've forgotten all that great museum. So so you had kind of a collection like that. And that was kind of inspired you your younger. Yeah. And I think it was and I was always interested in architecture because of that building and it sat across a garden from Philip Johnson building as well. The aim and Carter so architecture was always a really big part of seeing these artworks if you ever go to the Kimball you'll very clearly see what I'm talking about. The galleries are very specifically designed with these kind of raised barrel vault roofs with this beautiful light diffusing system that comes down. So you you are very aware of the architecture while at the same time, they are architecture kind of disappears of virtually really beautiful way. It's truly one of the great buildings in the United States. So I I think that sort of continued my interest in art, I studied art and college and also in graduate school. And my first job in an art museum was at the museum of fine arts in Houston, actually, so which is a Meese Vandross building. So I've it's like this is fate. It's fate. And at every point I was more interested in the fine arts. Yeah. But architecture rearing its head again. And again, every place that I went to so how would you say that doing this job has kind of changed your view of the arts, and museums like, what has it changed the way think about them? It has because as an artist or an art history teacher, you are really sort of on one side of the the big industry of cultural production. Right. So you are an say a painter trying to get your painting sold or seen at a gallery or you're an art history teacher, and you're teaching students who may have no background in art. So you're kind of out there in the world, whereas a museum it's very much about taking are in and putting it in the storage facility or putting it on the wall. And so it's this kind of opposite end of it. And so in a way, it's you're getting to see how the sausage is made. Right. You're you're very aware of how exhibitions or put together that it's not some mysterious process that there's actually a lot of intellectual rigor that goes behind that why some are works quired, and others are not that there's a lot of complicated reasons for these things. So it's it's been fascinating to really see it from this institution. Perspective. As opposed to a more on the ground perspective. As of being a practicing artist or practicing art teacher, your the institution of museums. Y'all been dimissed because you're you're the one making it all work. Yeah. I think you see where institutions can be really great. And where we have a really positive and compelling impact on the world. And also how museums can become unfortunately, a little disconnected from the world. And the one of my own personal aims is to continue to force museum to try to re-engage in my own small way. Right. And how how can I continue this outreach to get the museum to engage with the world and engage with communities that it may not be engaging with as much as it should be is that because you're the person acting as sort of the face, or you're you're acting as inet gatekeeper role because of that and also partly because there are certain fields that I've taken a particular interest in video games is one. Now, I've I've lectured and. San francisco. I games calm in Cologne. Kind of talking about how art museums want to move into kind of cultural realm of video games. And really fascinating work. That's being done in that field. So since you ever see this part of the collection, you sort of have it sounds like you have a desire to evangelize it to say that. Yeah, I do. And it's this is again something that started with palace. She's like the fearless kind of blazer of trails, and it's one that I've been happy to sort of pick up and help with because it's it's one that I believe could be getting more attention and more focus. At Merrill, Lynch. It all starts with you. The you've always the last leave the U who hopes to be I retire. No matter what your priorities are your dedicated adviser provides one on one advice and guidance to help you live the life. You want subscribe to the Merrill Lynch perspectives podcast. Get a better understanding our changing world and how get impact your financial future. Listen as head of global research, Candace Browning chief investment strategist, Michael Hartnett and chief investment officer. Chris his e dive into fascinating subjects like why? Smaller American cities, driving economic growth and the good and bad affects of artificial intelligence subscribed today to the Merrill, Lynch perspectives podcasts. Investing in securities involve risks Merrill. Lynch makes available products and services offered by Merrill. Lynch Pierce Fenner and Smith, inC, vay, Merrill, Lynch. Global research is research produced by via the am L Inc. And or one of more of its billions genitive is registered broker dealer. And. Vestment advisor members essay IPC and wholly owned subsidiaries of Bank Corporation investment products, are not at the I c insured are not guaranteed and may lose value. You clearly have a love of architecture at this point. Again. I I don't think architectures the first thing that comes to mind when people typically think about art museum. So like, what goes into an architecture collection? Like, we talked about sort of like designs prints, but like what actually makes that up? I'll start with an anecdote which was the greatest question anybody's ever asked me at the museum because you'll be walking through the halls and somebody you've got your badge on and somebody will just ask you a question, whereas the bathrooms where do I get tickets for the films, and we try to be good customer service providers and try to help them even if you're busy in rushing to a meeting, but a lady stopped me and briefly was talking and she asked me 'cause she's all my badge architecture and design just said where do you keep the architecture, and that sort of blew my mind from it, and I thought wow. Where do we keep the architecture because she's right? We don't have architectures buildings that one curtain wall. We have that one with pieces of buildings have many pieces of buildings, but we don't have the things themselves. Right. So what we have is representations of buildings. Right. So the drawings that were made, and I would say I would wager more than half of architecture collection is a things that were never built. Maybe even things that were never even meant to be built. Right. It's sort of conceptual pieces or visionary pieces. So really if you're trying to make a representation of an idea. Right. That's ultimately, whether it's a drawing or photograph or a computer rendering or something it's really a representation of an idea. Right. And it's it's about helping the viewer kind of envisioned this place that exists in time and space and movement in in a field in a material whether that's a drawing or photograph or a model that is necessarily. More limiting than the actual thing. Do you ever have ideas for things that you would like to see collection and like go to the curator light try to put like, I guess you obviously think about it all day long. So I imagine there has has two point like, well, I running this added at this thing, and I do all the time. And sometimes they say, oh, that's pretty good. Visit I would get out of here. As they should. I mean, that's what that's what their job is. And I feel really fortunate to have worked with so many fantastic people at the museum. I mean, I often joke that I came to this position. I I wasn't hired as a collection specialist. I was hired as a catalog, but I wanted to catalog the catalog or is that your job is basically just to take this print and get who's the artist was the very basic cataloging information exhibition history provenance history in that kind of database stuff. So it's interesting that kind of like an entry level job at museum. It's an entry level job in say a curatorial department. Okay. But it was one that I was thrilled to get and it was really happy. But I came in with very little background in architecture and design, but I was really fortunate that my teachers in this world were Perry. Burg dollar chief curator at the time and Pella and Tonelli's to the greatest curator's of this field in the world. Right. So I have had the great privilege of having all these amazing people to work with. And I think that's really kind of led me to where I am now. Now where I feel comfortable actually going to them. And they encourage this kind of give and take all of our current chief caters Martinez dearly. And he loves this kind of give and take ideas. What do you think about this? What do you think about that? So we really all of bash these ideas around. So now that we think we've started to get our arms around what your job actually is. Maybe maybe begun begun to. I know there's I definitely haven't hit the docking. Yeah. I can see the list, but I'm just I'll put it away. But the I mean, how would you say you spend most of your time? What is what's taking up the majority of your day? I'm sure you are familiar with the scourge of Email. Yes, it's which the buckets are emailing about all day. Well, often my buckets our time zone based right because we do a lot of things with partners in Europe. So when I get in the first thing in the morning, it's who in Europe. Do I need to work 'cause I want to try to get something on their day. Right. So it's knockout anything tapping their with Europe. And then that's often the very first thing, I do when I get is knocked those out, and then so if there's like a loan exhibition there, you're dealing with Paris. Or what I'm yeah. I I've I want to try to get that done on the soon side. So that I stay on top of those things. And then as soon as that's off my plate, then I'll get into the more kind of brain intensive things. I'm I'm a morning person. So if I need to write something because I write for catalogs or things that go online. I like to do that in the morning because then I can close my internet browser put on headphones and opened Microsoft Word and just right and try to get that done. And then after noon than it just becomes a endless potpourri of meetings. And as you're being that node or you're talking about whatever those varies parts. Yeah. I think if the morning is my most productive time. What is your favorite peace at MoMA? What's your piece of art architecture? Whatever that's really hard question. I think this is slightly biased. But it's part of the building itself because we have to the the building of the museum of modern art has kind of evolved. And when might say metastasized over the years from its originally it was in a townhouse. And then it was the purpose built building in nineteen thirty nine, and then it expanded the fifties and sixties, and it's like we slowly mushroom out and keep growing into these different buildings. But since the fifties there. There's been this kind of access behind the museum that I think is one of the most precious spots in New York City, and that's the sculpture garden, which was designed by Philip Johnson and pulls in influences from all over the place. But is I think maybe the place I returned to again. And again as a place to call my brain down to just walk through to inhabit. Yes, I would say the sculpture that is also my mother's favourite. She's she lived in the city for twenty or forty years and every time she comes back. Now, she insists that we go to sculpture garden to see because it a she goat. She's a very popular lady wants to go and say, hi, friend. It's an it's, you know, the building itself or the garden itself might not seem like something in the collection, but we are still stewards of this place. It's incumbent on us to take care of it to we've got colleagues that are really passionate about the kind of plants that go in there the trees that are in. There got sick a few years ago, and I was really concerned about the trees, but they they. Recovered and they're doing great again. So it's it's I would probably say the sculpture garden. All right, ma'am. This has been a lot fun. Thanks so much. Sure. That's it for this week's episode of working. I hope you enjoyed the show. However, before I leave you tag on a little correction, you may have noticed that during our chat polish with the invention of the ice cream cone to Sergio Marchi owning a few days after we talked however emailed me very upset that he had misspoken and the actual inventor was Hello Archie Oni Sergio former CEO of the and pull them up because he's been working on a car related project. Recently, these things happened in any event if you show, please leave us a review at apple podcasts. And if you have any questions suggestions, Email me at working at slate dot com might producer. I'm working is the absolute indispensable jesmyn, Molly, and as a special thank you to Justin de right for the ad music. Jordan, Weisman come back. Join me next time for more working.

Coming up next