My favorite place on campus: Mount Holyoke College Art Museum

June 18, 2019 at 4:28 PM

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In response to the question, “What is your favorite spot on campus?” I always answer with the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, or MHCAM. With its trailblazing exhibitions and dedicated staff, MHCAM is truly one of the greatest college museums. Among the nation’s oldest academic art museums, MHCAM was founded in 1876 and ranks 11th on a national list of top college art museums — ahead of Princeton, Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley.

Words are insufficient to describe how much I've grown from my experience as an education intern and student guide at MHCAM. As I pursue museum studies, I'm so grateful to have realized the transformative potential for museum education.

I’ve witnessed the generative capacity for learning that is rooted in accessibility, active listening and social change. From working with students and local Western Massachusetts communities — including K-12 classes, English as a new language students and visiting scholars — I've learned to integrate strategies of accessibility into public programming. I create tours and develop learning aids that emphasize dialogue to spark critical, creative and personal reflection. As a facilitator, it’s incredibly rewarding to see how individuals arrive at such provocative and diverse interpretations of artwork.

Rachel Kim '21 at the American Federation of Arts

Apart from coordinating a Family Day with the theme “Wild Animals in Winter” last semester with my co-intern Annie, I organized a student “Talk Back” event for Mount Holyoke's third annual BOOM conference. We invited students, faculty and staff to respond to issues of identity, (non)representation and decontextualization at MHCAM. I also had the opportunity to write an object label for Bingyi Huang's stunning ink painting, “The Tree of the Invisible,” in the Asian gallery. Bingyi graduated from Mount Holyoke and dedicated this piece to her former professor Robert Herbert, professor emeritus of fine arts.

Without a doubt, MHCAM has opened so many doors. Last summer, I interned in NYC as a Curatorial & Publications intern at the American Federation of Arts through the national Diversity in Arts Leadership Program by Americans for the Arts. Through the program, I learned about arts nonprofit management and ongoing advocacy for cultural equity across arts institutions.

This summer, I am honored to be an incoming curatorial intern at the Seattle Art Museum. I would not be where I am without MHCAM and will always remain indebted to its opportunities and people for supporting me on this path.

When you support Campus Preservation through The Mount Holyoke Fund, you help maintain the physical framework of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum and its 10 exhibition galleries, keeping its spaces up to date, climate controlled and aesthetically pleasing for students, faculty and the broader community. You enable us to learn from the collections that are housed and preserved within the Museum’s walls and to discover the tremendous connection that art and artifacts have to our past, present and future.

Your gift. Your choice. Choose your destination.

Rachel Kim ’21

Written by Rachel Kim ’21

Rachel, a double major in history and critical social thought with a Nexus in museums, archives and public history, is from Bellevue, WA, but was raised in New Hyde Park, NY. Aside from her involvement at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum as an education intern and student guide, Rachel is the media chair of Asian American Studies in Action (AASIA), an ambassador for the Weissman Center for Leadership and a phonathon caller for MHC's Office of Advancement. In her free time, Rachel enjoys traveling with friends, visiting museums, reading food blogs and consuming copious amounts of tea.