Erin Wolfe Bell (BA 2005) always enjoyed visiting museums, but first considered a career in the field when she enrolled in museum studies courses after finishing her undergraduate degree requirements at FSU. An internship at the Tallahassee Museum and a part-time positions at the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science solidified this interest. These postgraduate experiences in Tallahassee led her to a passion for and professional interest in the museum field:
Museum work is dynamic and fascinating. Not only has it allowed me to meet and work with remarkable people, but it keeps me learning every single day. My time as an undergraduate at FSU really cultivated my lifelong love of learning and curiosity about material culture. The world of art and museums really fulfills both of those passions because there is always something new that can be learned in this field. Each day is different and it’s what keeps me coming back for more.
After receiving her BA in Art History at FSU, Erin went on to earn an MA in Museum Studies at Baylor University, intern at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (Atlanta), and work at the History of Diving Museum (Islamorada, FL). In 2012 she accepted a position at The Wolfsonian—FIU in Miami Beach. At these institutions she gained valuable experience in museum fundraising, operations, and board relations.
While in Miami, she founded the Miami Emerging Museum Professionals, a local chapter of the American Alliance of Museums’ professional group. In this role she immersed herself in the life of the city and connected with other emerging professionals in the field.
Now the Membership and Annual Fund Manager at Naples Botanical Garden, Erin manages a membership base of almost 10,000 households, interacting with donors and visitors, raising funds to support the Garden, and planning and promoting events. Recently she worked with world-renowned landscape architects on the 30,000-square-foot expansion of the Garden’s Visitor Center.
It has been eye-opening to see the impact this organization has on the local community. Aside from the stunning beauty, the Garden provides meaningful programming to underserved populations, offer training for teachers which has resulted in dozens of local school gardens, and are working to save critically endangered native species. But beyond these educational and conservation aspects, botanical gardens are places to connect with others, find solitude, and reflect, very much like museums.
Erin is currently serving a three-year term on the Florida Association of Museums (FAM) Foundation Board of Directors, an organization she has been involved with since 2009. Her involvement with FAM, which is based in Tallahassee, has kept her close with former professors from FSU.