Side by Side: Museum of Glass Launches Curator High

Illustration by Museum of Glass Graphic Designer Sara Roach.

This summer, in partnership with Jobs 253 (Tacoma Public Schools), Museum of Glass launched Curator High, a program for students interested in learning more about the curatorial process at museums. Working closely with the Museum of Glass Education and Curatorial departments, the students designed a display for the Grand Hall with works from the Museum’s Permanent Collection. The high school curators determined the display’s topic and content, built interpretive content for the case, and worked with all departments in the Museum to realize their vision.

Together, the Curator High students developed the installation Side by Side.

Side by Side installation in the Museum of Glass Grand Hall.

The curators describe the installation as follows:

“We are interested in our relationship with the environment. The works we selected explore the delicate balance of nature, as well as its bewitching power. As a society, we take land and trees for granted. Taking too much means that nobody gets to enjoy the great things around us, creating an imbalance. We need more mutualism. Nature is forgiving if we respect it.

The pieces in Side by Side serve as a substitute for what is lost or endangered. It is meant to provoke us to change. It is no longer a choice. We love and miss the rain like it used to be. Now that it is gone, we realize that we took it for granted. Summer is brown now, and the springtimes are dry. We hope to inspire a shared appreciation for, and desire to protect, this place we call home. Artists and designers play a part in designing more sustainable cities and solutions. Side by Side represents what this world could be like again. This vitrine could be a glimpse into the future and a reminder of the past.”

We caught up with the Curator High participants to ask them about their experiences in the program.

The inaugural class of Curator High students.

Kennedy Frazier

“In my time at the Museum of Glass, I was introduced to a community that was otherwise behind the scenes for me. I have come to realize just how much work goes into the world of museums.  One experience that stuck with me was visiting the Tacoma Art Museum with my teammates during the program. It opened my eyes to the close relationships that curators have with one another, even if they may not be in the same workplace. By visiting other museums around the Downtown Tacoma area, I saw how tight-knit the museum community is here.  Along with being introduced to what goes into running the Museum, I saw how much work must happen to make the Museum come to life.  Everyone, from the marketing department, to the people who plan events and exhibitions, to the cleaning staff, to the docents and artists, are essential to this work. It’s so much more than what you see when you walk through the doors as a visitor. This experience has been incredible and I’m looking forward to learning so much more.”

Olivia Hart

“The program is about learning the process of curation. Along the way, we learned much more than just curation. We learned about the different types of glassmaking, saw the process, and even did some demos. We experienced what it's like to host an activity for visiting school programs and got to visit nearby museums. We learned what went into the creation of the art on display. We learned about the history and processes of so many different subjects – the topics of our classes were new and diverse every day.”  

Ximena Perez

“Working for the Museum has been an amazing experience. I was always curious to learn more about the details of how Museum of Glass works, and now I’m learning all about it. It was something new to try, and I loved it.  I have learned many new things, like how glass is made and the different types of processes glass has to go through to become a work of art. My favorite part so far is learning what a graphic designer does.” 

Dasia Phelps

“When I got the email that I got the job, I honestly didn’t know how to feel. I was so excited but extremely nervous. After the first day, though, I was excited to learn more and see where this project led. The people are just amazing. My teammates are incredible and so sweet and smart. Shannon is such a fun person and a great leader. My favorite part of this whole thing is the Hot Shop. Just sitting in there and seeing people work on beautiful pieces of art is truly amazing. My best memory from the program is when I was sitting in the Hot Shop with all my teammates, and we were watching Nancy Callan make a vessel. All of us sat in awe as she held a blowtorch in one hand and cracked open a soda with the other. All in all, this experience was amazing. I'm so glad I got to learn and see how glass is made, and all the different techniques that I wouldn't have been able to learn otherwise.” 

Taylor Sok

“My experience at MOG has been amazing. I’ve loved everything we’ve done and everything we’ve learned. I especially love the boba shop by our workplace which our Curator High team liked to visit after work. I enjoy getting to know everyone at the Museum and learning about their experiences, and that I can slowly relate to their experiences with my own. Getting closer to my peers in Curator High was very heartwarming. They’ve made every moment very entertaining and wonderful.” 

Curator High students seeing their installation for the first time.