CHADRON – A group of Chadron State College students and faculty visited a number of galleries and museums in the area of Santa Fe, New Mexico, during midterm break in early March. Students in the group were Kayla Anderson, Serena Brooks, Heather Clark, Cody Cooper, Matthew Ellis, Leo Haselhorst and Jessica Rawlings of Kimball, Neb. Professor of art Mary Donahue and Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center Director Sarah Polak accompanied the students.
The group met exhibit designers, learned about creative techniques to preserve artifacts, interpret and illustrate artists’ lives, and design engaging exhibits for museum and gallery patrons. Several curators also asked the students for their input and ideas to enhance exhibits. Donahue said the trip was possible because of Polak’s network of museum connections.
With Mark Mackenzie at the New Mexico History Museum, the CSC students were privy to an inside look at conserving and uncovering clues hidden in one of the historically significant Segesser animal hide paintings that portrays a 1720 loss by Spanish troops and their allies near the confluence of the Loup and Platte rivers in present-day Nebraska.
Mackenzie demonstrated a high-tech camera and lighting system that uses multiple spectrums of light to uncover layers of paint, minerals or cotton fibers.
David Rohr, Director of Museum Resources, met the group in the Museum of International Folk Art and explained the process of installing a new exhibit.Donahue said it was valuable to have the students watch an installation in progress and talk with the specialists.
Medigovich said time with Rohr was well-spent.
“He showed us many parts of the process to designing and installing a gallery, and answered our questions. As a graphic design major, it was very informative to learn about this possible career path for me,” she said.
Anderson said the trip, her first to New Mexico, was a great experience.
“We were quite fortunate that we had connections there and we were allowed some opportunities that most people wouldn't have had. I know I enjoyed all these behind the scenes experience. One day, I can share the information I gained on this trip in my own classroom," Anderson said.
Medigovich agreed the venture was educational.
“We got to learn about a totally new process of restoring and documenting art, which opened a whole new area of artistic and scientific study. That really opened my eyes to the many professions that I wasn’t even aware of,” she said.
The group spent the last day of the trip hiking and exploring Bandelier National Monument, the archeological sites of the ancestral Pueblo people who have inhabited the Southwest for centuries.
“It was a physical, real-life immersion of what we had seen in the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. The students climbed ladders into cliff dwellings and looked through stone and mortared windows into Frijoles Canyon as the native inhabitants had done in the 1200s,” Donahue said.
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