Thursday, October 14, 2010

Alumna Profile: Julie C. ('07) in California

At UE, my passion for historical interpretation and the protection of historic sites and collections was solidified. After graduating in 2007, I spent a summer interning with the Department of Prehistory and Europe at the British Museum in London. I was a member of the “Etton Registration Project” team, which was charged with cataloging a decade’s worth of archaeological material from the prehistoric site of Etton, UK. In addition to photographing, sorting and storing human and animal remains, as well as more flint than one can possibly imagine, I was allowed rare access to the museum’s largest storage facility, Blythe House, which it shares with the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museum. For instance, I saw the Vindolanda tablets up close, I learned the BM’s newest conservation methods for textiles and Iron Age artifacts, and I witnessed the restoration of Egyptian temple reliefs. I cannot even mention some of the stuff they have locked away in the basement!

Julie in the gardens at Bhaktivedanta Manor, Watford, UK

It was a few tube stops away at the Victoria and Albert Museum that I developed a new, but deep appreciation for the art of South Asia, particularly the religious art of India. After doing a bit of research and, ironically, just walking a few blocks away from the British Museum, I discovered the School of Oriental and African Studies, part of the University of London. It was there in the fall of 2008 that I began my MA in the History of Art and Archaeology specializing in the art of South Asia. In my Master’s dissertation I was able to merge my love for the city of London and my interest in Hindu art by examining how modern British Hindus have had to adapt urban secular spaces to become temples for lack of space and creative license due to cultural and governmental controls. The centerpiece of my study was Bhaktivedanta Manor, a Tudor-style manor house on the outskirts of London that devotees have converted into a temple with multiple shrines both inside and on the grounds. It was gifted to the Hare Krishna movement by George Harrison, which I like to think made my dissertation a tad bit more rock ‘n’ roll than the rest!

California Oil Museum, Santa Paula, CA

Today, I am the Assistant Museum Educator at the California Oil Museum in Santa Paula, CA (follow us on Facebook!). As assistant to the museum’s director, I am responsible for creating marketing materials, such as press releases and posters, installing exhibitions whose contents range from fossils to paintings, and ensuring the day-to-day running of the museum. As assistant educator, I give tours to the public and to school groups and am currently developing new activities for students that meet state curriculum standards while utilizing the history of our building, the second story of which retains its appearance and contents from the late 19th century. On the weekends, I am a docent at the Malibu Lagoon Museum and Adamson House in Malibu, CA where I guide visitors through a 1930s-era Spanish Colonial Revival-style beach house and also get to enjoy a wonderful view of the ocean! My degree in archaeology and art history from UE has allowed me to view some rare and spectacular sights/sites and has definitely imbued in me a unique way of looking at the world. I cannot wait to see where it takes me next!

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