By: Krystal Glasman
Only seven months ago, I moved from Orange County to Coachella Valley; not for the golf, music festivals, or endless sunshine, but for a rare opportunity, the inception of the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert. The Palm Springs Art Museum decided to expand their presence within the Coachella Valley and now operates a second site in Palm Desert. As Education Programs Manager of this new facility, I am not just a witness to the dawn of the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert, but share the responsibility of developing its identity.
I am a young professional who still possesses the ambition and the optimism that got me through grad school. My optimism is proving to be one of my greatest assets because my experience in Orange County differs greatly from my new home. As a transplant to the desert I have had to reconsider what was successful in my last job and constantly educate myself in ways that will make me successful in my new position. Moving from a college town to a community heavily populated by families and retirees, I have to embrace new demographics. I have to evaluate the opportunities inherent in the alternative space I now work in. I also have to adjust to a population that fluctuates greatly throughout the year and at the same time I am initiating my own programming. Heck, I had to change my definition of hot. The flagship institution serves as a great model for museum education. I am inspired by my co-workers and their commitment to community, bilingual initiatives, lifelong learning, and camaraderie. I am also supported by an institution that encourages all of the staff in Palm Desert to create our own identity as a museum space.
As an educator and representative of a cultural institution, some of my goals for the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert focus on inviting the local community to shape what goes on at the museum. These goals include building local partnerships, integrating multi-media technology into visitor experiences, fostering community interaction, in addition to encouraging a lifetime of experimentation and art appreciation. I want to affect the experience of every visitor, which will no doubt impact the identity of the museum. In transforming my goals into actions, I find myself behaving more methodically; first assessing what has been done at the Palm Springs Art Museum, what new partnerships are being established, and what the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert can share with the community that no one else can. I have adopted the education department’s fall and spring community events Dia de los Muertos and Art Party, and I also intend to follow a similar field trip format. Collaborations between the local community college and local farmer’s market have had some success and will continue. Beyond that I am still determining all the ways we can impact the community and look forward to finding new inspiration at the Western Museum Association’s Annual Meeting in Palm Springs this fall.
What I am looking forward to the most about the conference is attending the sessions. Since opening our facility in March so much feels like an experiment. Even programs that originated at the Palm Springs Art Museum are drastically altered to accommodate space, resources, staff, and new visitors. I think I can really benefit from the experiences of professionals who have successfully organized programs that align with my goals. My schedule for the week of the conference includes topics presented by leaders from Arizona State Museum, Berkeley Art Center, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Portland Art Museum-an education tailored for my current job. A Call to Action: Museums and Communities Working Together on Things That Matter appeals to my growing interest in social practice. I also think this will spark ideas to make visitor engagement not just relevant to the individual, but beneficial to the community as a whole. Creating a Place: Engaging a Diverse Audience reflects my desire for museums to be a catalyst for community interaction. One of the challenges I hope gets addressed at this session is ways to inspire interaction among visitors of different generations. Connecting to Nature Through Art will be my source for ideas on integrating the Eric Johnson Memorial Gardens, which surround the museum, into educational opportunities. This garden, which the museum is gradually populating with sculpture, is a distinctive feature of the facility and has the potential to influence more programming. Lastly, Attracting Young and Diverse Volunteers addresses my desire to include high school and college students in the operations of the museum and give them a creative role in the community.
The Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert is almost like a blank canvas. It carries the reputation and mission of the flagship museum with an invitation to experiment and present something new. Even with my education colleagues to support me and now museum representatives from the western states to guide me I know I face a great deal of trials. I also know with each experiment the next one has a greater chance of success. I look forward to the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert growing, evolving and reflecting the community that gets to shape its identity.
Krystal Glasman is a 2012 recipient of the Wanda Chin Scholarship. She began working as the Education Programs Manager for the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert January 2012. Before joining the Education Department at the museum, Krystal worked as Director of Programs for CSUF Grand Central Art Center. She is an alumnus of CSUF earning her MA in Exhibition Design and Museum Studies and her BA in Art Education.