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OHIO students collaborate on Kennedy Museum exhibit curation

Each year, students of the OHIO Museum Studies Certificate program curate and install an exhibit called “Merging Concepts,” and each year the new groups of students bring their own sets of ideas and twists to the theme. This year, the topic of the exhibit is “In These Moments,” which explores the storytelling process of emotions, events, narratives and artworks.

“In These Moments” began with the students collaborating on two “primary objects” around which to base the rest of the exhibit, then finding objects of individual interest to them that would tie into the overall theme of the exhibit to be displayed at the Kennedy Museum of Art

“We sat down and brainstormed…what kind of ideas we could use to link those two objects, and from that we came up with this concept of moments in time,” said Emma Campbell, a second-year student studying classical civilizations in the College of Arts and Sciences and pursuing the Museum Studies Certificate in the College of Fine Arts. 

“The thing that’s really interesting about the Museum Studies exhibition is that the students are all interdisciplinary, so …the objects that interest them are not necessarily art objects,” said Lisa Quinn, the Kennedy Museum of Art Registrar and co-instructor of the Museum Studies Certificate courses. 

Quinn’s focus as registrar is to ensure the proper treatment of museum objects, from frames for installation to environment control when the objects aren’t on display. While helping the students learn how to properly care for the objects, as well as teaching them about the theory of museum studies, Quinn got an up-close look at the process of the exhibition's creation. 

“The theme is really about connections, about objects they’ve chosen and ideas that connect those objects to the present,” she said. 


An OHIO Museum Studies Certificate program student wipes the glass of an exhibit.

With equal focus on collaboration and individuality, the students involved in the program had the opportunity to offer their own skill sets to the process. Valen Vennard, a third-year student studying history in the College of Arts and Sciences and pursuing the Museum Studies Certificate, was able to offer unique advice and learn unique lessons. 

“I gave input as someone who works here at the Kennedy and has seen exhibits come and go,” Vennard said. “It’s unique because it is pretty much all student curated and led. We had input from our professors and the people here at the Kennedy, but it is special because it is our first experience in this area.” 

Vennard is pursuing the certificate after learning to love the knowledge and education promoted by museums from a young age. Campbell also decided to pursue the certificate as part of her interest in the subject matter. 

“I was called to the Museum Studies Certificate because I really want to focus on archaeology in the future…and I’m really interested in curating exhibits…I wanted to get the experience that I would need to start myself off right in that career field,” Campbell said. 

Throughout the laborious process of creating and installing the exhibit, both students were able to learn new lessons about themselves and their perspective fields. 

“Something I’ve learned personally is how to be more assertive with my ideas,” Campbell said. “When I first started, I was very shy and was set on letting everybody else say what they thought…but I’ve really come out of my shell and been more vocal about what I think we should be doing.” 

“Communication [is] something that I’ve had very little experience with,” Vennard said. “All the jobs I’ve had in the past have been very individual…so getting experience in communicating with a large group of people and talking out ideas and problems that arise throughout the process was definitely new, and I learned a lot from that.” 

The exhibit’s opening reception will take place on April 19, and will be followed by a Gallery Talk on April 24. With all of the exciting events coming up in relation to the project, Vennard is most excited to “share our vision with the community and other students.” 

“It’s really close to all of our hearts, it’s something we worked really hard on, and it gives us a chance to not only show off all the work we’ve done, but also get feedback on things we might do differently next time,” Campbell said. 

April 17, 2024
Sophia Rooksberry