I can clearly remember the first time I set foot inside a museum. I was seven years old and it was with my second grade class on a field trip to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. I remember the building’s gigantic scale and the timeless nature of the artifacts on display. I remember the smell and the echo of the lobby. I remember leaving with more questions and curiosity than I had when I entered.
In the years since, my personal interests have skewed decidedly toward the arts, but my love affair with museums never left. Instead of becoming awe-inspired by dinosaurs and dioramas, I came to appreciate the delicate touch of paint on canvas, the intricate dance of melodies and harmonies, and the creative process as a whole. I will visit any museum anywhere and spend hours soaking it all in.
Not too far along into my professional career I was lucky to land a technology gig in a mid-size museum here in Pittsburgh. I made a lot of friends and took calculated risks with respect to technology and communication. I felt my work at that museum held meaning because it was helping tell compelling stories about dynamic artists and their work. We had a lot of fun along the way too. I looked forward to going to work each day in a creative environment surrounded by artistic expression.
I left that position in 2010. The story behind my decision to leave is complex and better suited for another blog post, but in short I moved on to a wonderful job in higher education at a university known the world over for its innovation. For the most part, all was well in my professional world.
Then I started to hear the calls. They started as daydreams of a blank white cube open for experimentation, but quickly progressed to visions of working full-time again in an environment surrounded by art, artists and creativity. I quickly realized how much I missed being immersed in a place of art and culture. The museum was calling me, just like it did on that spring Philadelphia day back in 1986.
This week, I acted on this calling by accepting a web and digital media position at the Carnegie Museum of Art, one Pittsburgh’s cultural gems and an international beacon of artistic excellence. The museum has a rich history and is strategically poised for great things down the road. There are some amazing projects on the horizon. I’m extremely excited about this next chapter in my professional life and I look forward to making new friends, as well as reconnecting with my museum colleagues across the globe.
That’s not to say I’m not nervous about this transition. The butterflies are certainly present. A wise woman once said, “If an opportunity scares you, you need to take it.” Change of this magnitude always comes along with an element of unease. However, I’m comforted in the fact that working in the art + tech space is my professional calling. I truly believe it’s what I’m supposed to do.
My experience during the past few weeks has shown me many things, but most importantly I’ve rediscovered how to follow my instincts and pursue the calling that is within me. My situation isn’t special, though. Callings are within all of us. You just have to listen and act.