Freshmen Nyree Dowdy ’21 and Taylor Roberts ’21 are among only 15 undergraduates selected for the Mellon Summer Academy at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
During the week-long immersive experience, the two will learn about curatorial practices from Atlanta-area curators, participate in team exhibition workshops, research and present on a favorite collection object, study art museum audiences, and visit local art museums, artists’ studios, private collections, and galleries.
“I’m intrigued not only by the artwork but the story behind it, (but) also, in the process that goes on behind the scenes to get from a concept to an actual exhibit,” said Dowdy, a history major and JEO merit scholar from Virginia Beach. “My dream would be to work in a museum in the future and I feel like this program will launch me directly into that path.”
Roberts, a business administration major with an interest in museum studies, currently interns in the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, where she has assisted with museum exhibition planning and programming to increase student involvement in the museum. For nearly five years, Roberts also volunteered with the Adler Planetarium in her hometown of Chicago.
“Her passion for museum administration was quite apparent,” said OUMA’s Curator of Collections John Tilford. “More impressive was her desire to enact change in the museum environment with regards to the lack of minority representations among museum professionals. That very same initiative is at the core of the Mellon Foundation’s Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program.”
Students invited to the Mellon Summer Academy are eligible for consideration for the Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship, a highly selective two-year paid program that offers hands-on experience, specialized training, and mentoring in the curatorial profession for students from communities that are historically underrepresented in the museum field.Dowdy and Roberts have now passed the first hurdle in qualifying for consideration for the fellowship.
“The Mellon Foundation specifically encourages students in their freshman and sophomore year to apply for the academy and fellowship, given the fellowship’s two-year term,” said OUMA’s Tilford. “This is a notable shift in such fellowships, which often focused more attention on graduate-level students. This is also indicative of the ever-more-competitive field of museums and academic art historians.”
“It will give me not only experience in the field but also the chance to meet others interested in it as well,” agreed Dowdy. “Also as a woman of color I am glad to have an opportunity in a field that may not have been as open to me in previous years.”