Yesterday, Arnold Lehman, our Director, initiated a new initiative that coincides with the opening of the installation Connecting Cultures: A World in Brooklyn. He was the first Brooklyn Museum staff member to occupy a desk in the installation in order to provide the visitor with a human connection to the Museum within the context of this introductory gallery.
At this desk, visitors will have the opportunity to meet diverse Museum staff and to interact with them about many different aspects of the Brooklyn Museum. Whether the conversation is as simple as getting directions to the cafe or as complex as discussing favorite works of art in the collection, the point is to provide a human connection between the visitor and the Brooklyn Museum. The conversation goes both ways. Not only can the visitor learn about the Museum, but the staff members, or “connectors,” can learn what it is the public needs to know, and what they are thinking about, so that we can better tailor what we provide to meet those needs.
Arnold reports that he had a great time during his term as a “connector.” Yesterday was a lively day at the Brooklyn Museum, and he talked to visitors from around the country and around the world. I happened to have a group of visitors from another American museum for a tour in the afternoon, and they were impressed to find our Director greeting visitors in the galleries, and they took full advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the institution. They went away astonished at the friendly and open spirit of the Brooklyn Museum.
Yesterday was a trial run for this program. It begins in earnest on Wednesday, May 2, when Brooklyn Museum staff “connectors” will rotate shifts at the desk in Connecting Cultures. You never know who you will meet, so come for a visit. I hope to see you there!
Kevin Stayton was born in Ohio, and educated at the Ohio State University, and Yale University. He began work at the Brooklyn Museum in 1980 as an Assistant Curator of Decorative Arts. He became Curator of Decorative Arts in 1989, and Chief Curator in 2001. In addition to his position at the Brooklyn Museum, he has taught at the Bard Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture; the Cooper-Hewitt/Parsons Graduate Program in the Decorative Arts; and Columbia University.