Museology Master of Arts Program

October 2, 2017

Orientation Reflections: Welcoming the Class of 2019

While orientation marks the end of my summer, it is a time I look forward to, when I have the opportunity to get to know our incoming cohort of students, beyond just an application, a few emails, and maybe a brief visit. This group represents a range of interests, experience, and goals – with 35 students hailing from 18 states, holding degrees in 21 different majors, and interests in all aspects of the museum field. Yet beyond their individual personalities, I was inspired to see how over such a short time, the class of 2019 was coming together as a distinct cohort that is greater than the sum of its parts. That this group of unique individuals would come together here in Seattle to share and build upon each other’s passions, expertise, and knowledge, gave me incredible excitement for the ways in which this group will come to shape aspects of the museum field.

Orientation day 1

Orientation day 1

But first, we had orientation – the time for awkward introductions, staring at policies, and pretending to understand what graduate school is all about. During the best of times, students were wondering “what did I get myself into?” And while no one likes to admit it to their equally anxious but seemingly composed peers, many were wondering “how did I get here anyway?”

Museology Welcome Back Reception 2017

Museology Welcome Back Reception

On Thursday, our first day of orientation, we aired some of these fears, chatted about our expectations, and provided an opportunity for our incoming class to come together as a cohort. Within minutes, the room was filled with the white noise of relaxed conversation, which grew more boisterous over the coming week. The ease in which this group came together was evident during the Welcome Back Reception the second day of orientation, where returning students, instructors, and friends welcomed this class into our ever-growing group (what some alumni have dubbed our “museo-family”).

Museology alum Kelly Porter leading discussion with students about her work with Take 'Em Down NOLA

Museology alum Kelly Porter leading discussion with students about her work with Take ‘Em Down NOLA

Since the bulk of our orientation was more than a week before the start of classes, we scheduled a few activities to fill the down time. T-minus 8 days until the year officially kicked off, we heard from Museology alum Kelly Porter who joined us from New Orleans to talk about her work in the removal of white supremacist monuments in the South, working with Take ‘Em Down NOLA. Kelly brought out some incredibly rich conversation about the possibilities for museum professionals to take a critical look at the objects we display and the ways that we as museum professionals can be involved in social advocacy.

Tori Fenney poses with Lulu the giraffe at Woodland Park Zoo

Tori Fenney poses with Lulu the giraffe at Woodland Park Zoo

We also wanted to show off what the rest of Seattle has to offer, with a trip to the Woodland Park Zoo and a stroll around Discovery Park. Museology faculty member Angie Ong was thrilled to show our students around the zoo to see one of the Zoo’s newest additions, Lulu, the baby giraffe. I was more than happy to lead a group around Discovery Park – Seattle’s largest city park. We met up with alum Caitlin Cooper who showed us around Daybreak Star, where she has been working as a gallery manager, and got a quick tour of their current exhibition featuring the works of Andrew Morrison. We finished off our trip down to the West Point Lighthouse, where the clouds parted so we could take in the serene beauty of Elliott Bay and the Puget Sound.

Hanging out by West Point Lighthouse at Discovery Park

Hanging out by West Point Lighthouse at Discovery Park

I hope that these experiences define the way that these students approach the rest of their graduate careers – as a cohort, with support from faculty and peers, with open-minds, ready for exploration, advocating for social justice, and ultimately, with ability to achieve clarity (maybe with the help of some cute animals along the way).

-Dylan High, Museology Student Experience Coordinator