Shortly before she completed her Bachelor of Arts degree, arts management alumna Cecilia Wright ’16 decided to focus her job search on museum positions, specifically those in an advancement department, because she was most interested in working for “the backbone of the organization.”
She found that position at EcoTarium, a science and nature museum in Worcester, Mass., and began work there as an institutional advancement associate just two days after she graduated from MCLA.
“I love museums and it has been great to learn the operations of a science and nature museum,” Wright said. “My MCLA experience helped me determine what kind of job I wanted, and that was the toughest part.”
While at MCLA, Wright took a “Grants and Fundraising” course, which included field work at the Clark Art Museum in nearby Williamstown, Mass. “That field work turned into an internship, then a part time job. At the Clark, I learned about membership, and most importantly, databases,” she explained. “That experience was exactly what the EcoTarium was looking for.”
Wright added, “MCLA arts management classes gave me the background knowledge and hands-on experience I needed to apply to jobs and be successful once the job was secured.” In addition, “MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC) gave me such a wide range of skills, and the ability to adapt and think on my feet. I was held responsible and given the trust to learn from my mistakes. It gave me confidence.”
EcoTarium features three floors of educational exhibits, as well as outside activities and animals. Wright’s responsibilities include handling the museum’s general membership program, donation acknowledgements, processing gifts, and maintaining and configuring its new database.
Why does she believe that museums’ advancement departments are the backbone of the organizations?
“Basically, every department in a museum is in one way or another tied to fundraising. If they aren’t, they probably should be,” Wright explained. “Many museums are more than just museums. Donors can be interested in all of the available programs, or only a select few. It’s the advancement department’s job to figure out a donor’s specific interests, and make those connections.”
Wright decided to attend MCLA not only because it offers an affordable education, but because no college in her home state of Connecticut offers arts management as a major. MCLA Gallery 51 also was a huge draw, she said.
“They display work from professional artists, year round. ‘High school me’ had always wanted to work at a gallery. I worked with MCLA Gallery 51 and other BCRC programs during my freshman and sophomore years.”
She added, “I would definitely recommend MCLA to others, especially the arts management department. MCLA gives you the tools and opportunities to find and follow your path in life. My experience was great.”
According to Wright, her “wonderful” professors went out of their way to help her become successful, and encouraged her to follow her dreams and passions. “They work with you one-on-one and get to know you personally. You do not get that at many colleges. That makes MCLA and the arts management program unique.”