One Mother, One Daughter, Two Museums

By: lywam on July 22nd, 2009

My parents never expected me to work in a museum. They sent me to college thinking I’d be an English teacher all my life. Well, that only lasted six years.

My husband and I never thought our daughter Kimberly (that’s Kim and me at the Field of Dreams in Iowa) would work in a museum. We sent her to college thinking she’d go into law enforcement or tourism/destination marketing. That never happened at all.

Instead she ended up getting an art history degree from UW-Milwaukee, moved to Texas (a long story!), and got a job in the registrar’s office at the University of Texas, Austin. Eventually she migrated to the School of Architecture and then to the membership department at the Blanton Museum of Art on campus.

She’s now the assistant director of development—annual giving and celebrates her tenth anniversary at the Blanton in August.

The Woodson Art Museum and the Blanton Museum of Art are worlds apart in more ways than distance. We are more a community museum; they are a university museum. Our collection focuses on nature in art, theirs on European and contemporary art. We are housed in a retrofitted former residence; they are housed in a brand-spanking new building built specifically to be a museum. The Woodson has nine fulltime staff, the Blanton 59. Our membership numbers 864; they have a membership of 6,300.

Yet when Kim and I talk, we speak a common language. I like that. I’d rather talk about museums, membership mailings, fundraising challenges, preview receptions, education programs, fun stuff like OctoBIRDfest, artists, and artworks than the ins and outs of law enforcement! Sometimes my husband (an accountant) scratches his head and gives us a “What are you two talking about?” look.

But that’s OK. It’s the internal language that connects one museum to another. And one mother in Wausau to her daughter in Austin.

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