Knowing is Half the Battle

By Tegan Hollen, Office Support Specialist ~

One of the aspects of my job that I love the most is the ability to learn more about the artists featured in our galleries and the artifacts displayed in our exhibits.  Every day that I come to work I have the opportunity to stuff my brain full of new knowledge, for which I am extremely grateful.

Curious about what I have been learning recently? Well, as some of you know, we just recently opened our Christo and Jeanne-Claude: The Tom Golden Collection exhibition in our Main Gallery. But do you know who Tom Golden is? Do you know how he met Christo and Jeanne-Claude? What about their work Running Fence? Do you know how long it was? These are all things that I have been able to learn from the exhibition, the catalog, and the books we were able to snag for the gift shop.


This excitement for learning often extends beyond my job – I am probably someone who would go back to school and stay there forever if I could. At times like that, I am super thankful for websites like Coursera. Coursera, along with other websites like EdX and Khan Academy, provides access to online courses from a variety of universities and organizations.

I am enrolled in a few courses through Coursera right now. Three of these courses are related to the work I do at the Museum – and ultimately art and history as a whole – so I thought I would share a little bit about each class in case you are interested in going back to school too.

The first course is The Museum of Modern Art’s Art & Activity: Interactive Strategies for Engaging with Art. While this course is intended for primary and secondary teachers, I still enrolled in it because of its focus on active, hands-on learning techniques – something I think will be helpful when I talk with visitors about our exhibits or help with programs like History Days. Plus, many of the course activities involve “engaging with” artwork in the permanent collection at The Museum of Modern Art, many of which are pieces that I am unfamiliar with.

The second course is The University of Edinburgh’s Photography: A Victorian Sensation. You may remember from one of our previous blog posts that I am a photography fiend – I love taking photographs and I love collecting cameras so this course was a no-brainer. The course is actually linked to a new exhibition of the same name at the National Museum of Scotland, and it’s aimed at providing an introduction to the processes, people, and images associated with early photography starting in 1839.

The third course is Duke University & Creative Time’s ART of the MOOC: Merging Public Art and Experimental Education. Designed by artist and Duke professor, Pedro Lasch, and co-taught with Creative Time’s chief curator, Nato Thompson, this course is both a socially-engaged public art form and a survey course on the subject of public art itself. This is probably one of the most unique courses that I have come across. Not only am I learning more about public art, but I am also contributing to a work of public art. Admittedly, I just started this course so I haven’t had the chance to really dig in to what my contribution will look like, but I promise to provide a progress report in a future post.