Our Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies (MCHS) program allows Art History students to focus on museum practice and cultural heritage as an academic subject and to prepare for careers in museums or other cultural heritage agencies. When Dr. Kristin Dowell took on the role of MCHS director in August 2019, she was excited to share her interdisciplinary training in visual anthropology and art history, professional museum experience, and research on Native American art and media. She and her MCHS faculty colleagues have worked to coordinate public events and technical programs that open the door to career development opportunities for students.
Dr. Dowell will teach a cultural heritage field school in the summer of 2020 that will provide students with basic media production skills and an understanding of research ethics that are crucial in the Art History field. Through collaborative community programs such as oral history projects and film festivals, students will gain hands-on pre-professional skills that give them an edge as they seek careers in museums and archival work. This video production field school will be available to graduate students in Art History and related fields. This spring, fellow Art History professor Michael Carrasco is teaching a course on technical aspects and ethical questions in the digital documentation and preservation of cultural heritage. Through such courses, our faculty seek to train students on the cutting edge of technological advances in the history and preservation of art.
In addition to her pursuits at FSU, Dr. Dowell has lately been working on an oral history project of her own focus. Amanda Griffis, State Folklorist of Florida and a former student of Dr. Dowell, has been working with the Miccosukee Citizens Working Group on a media documentation project centered on Miccosukee, a community northeast of Tallahassee. Their goal is the preservation of the oral history of Miccosukee, including stories of the impact of the civil rights movement in north Florida and African American agricultural lifeways. (Watch a video interview from the project.) By the end of the project, within the next year or two, Dowell hopes to teach a media training program for Miccosukee youth and donate video equipment to the community. “That way,” she explains, “the project is sustainable and the future generations are able to carry this work on, helping to facilitate the documentation of these powerful and dynamic oral histories is an example of how my practice as a scholar engages the community and is relevant to the public.”
Although she is relatively new to the FSU Art History community, Dr. Dowell is having a powerful impact on her students. She is grateful for the opportunity and excited to develop new directions for the MCHS program.
With her background in anthropology, the Museum and Cultural Heritage Studies Program was an appealing intersection of interests for Emily McLean: “This program seems like the perfect combination of cultural heritage and museum studies together.” Emily is still in the initial phase of the program, taking the prerequisite classes to prepare for internships, fieldwork, and a capstone project. Emily plans to spend her second year in the program on The Ringling Track to gain firsthand experience at the university museum complex in a unique full-year assignment. “I’m excited about the chance to get experience in every department of The Ringling.”
Asked why she chose to pursue this particular program, Olivia Morris replies, “It seemed more hands-on than any other program offered on the east coast. I liked the fact that I got to do field work, I liked the fact that I could do an internship, I liked the fact that the capstone project could be really personal based on my own pursuits.” Olivia is currently working on her capstone MCHS project. She decided to run her own film event, which consists of picking a theme, scouring film festival catalogues, and purchasing screening rights to the films she has selected. The theme of her event is “home and family within the LGBT community.” Olivia selected films from all over the world; her goal is to highlight the global human experience. Her enthusiasm is evident, and her film festival date is set for April, 4th, 2020. Keep an eye on Art History news and our Instagram account (arthistoryfsu) for details and reminders!
Student Authors: Sophie Nelsen, Carleigh Patton, Ava Romano