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Museum Administration Students’ Skills Make Photo Exhibit a Success

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Applying the theories and practices of contemporary curating, six students in the Master of Arts in Museum Administration organized and presented exhibitions featuring works by internationally recognized photographers at the Dr. M. T. Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery on the University’s Queens campus.

The presentations were part of an overall exhibition, “Selected Photographs from St. John's University Library's Special Collections.” Featuring the works of Manuel Àlvarez Bravo, Elliott Erwitt, Ralph Gibson, and Garry Winogrand, it served as the capstone project in the museum administration program, first offered by the University in the fall 2015 semester.

“The success of the exhibition is a tribute to the creativity, professionalism, and dedication of our students,” said Susan Rosenberg, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Art History and Director of the graduate program in Museum Administration. “They contributed to every aspect of curating the exhibition, from choosing the photographs to generating complementary educational programs.” 

As the name implies, each photograph in the show was from the St. John's University Library's Special Collections. 

“St. John’s has such amazing archives,” said Justine McEnerney ’19G, a student in the program.  “These are the same photos that you would have at the Getty Museum or MOMA—and they’re right here on campus.”  

Students in the program took advantage of the University’s metropolitan location by exploring New York’s considerable array of museums. “I chose this program, in part, because of the accessibility to the city,” said Suzanne Nelson ’17G, who is currently employed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. “It made it easy to compare what we learned in the classroom with what’s happening in the contemporary museum scene.”

According to Dr. Rosenberg, the exhibition’s success also emerged from the students’ deep research on their subjects, as well as collaboration among themselves—both inside and outside the classroom.

“The sharing of knowledge was a key to presenting a professional-looking exhibit,” said Laura Brownlie ’19G. “It was a unique peer/mentor relationship that really made it work.” Laura focused her exhibit on Ralph Gibson, an American art photographer known for the varied books featuring his work.

Michal Erdogan ’17G also specialized in Gibson’s works. As Michal noted, however, the student curators brought unique perspectives to the presentations even when focusing on the same photographers. “We all had our own ideas about how an exhibit should look,” said Michal. “It became an open forum to address each person’s needs, while delivering the best show possible.”