Women’s History Month Highlight: Janalee Emmer

 In MOA Features

For Women’s History Month, the BYU MOA wanted to highlight the incredible women who work inside the museum. Let us introduce you to Janalee Emmer, Curator/Head of Educational Programming.

  1. How long have you worked at the MOA?

Since August 2014.

  1. What is your favorite part about your job?

I really enjoy that it is constantly changing.  There are always new exhibitions coming, so I get to study and learn about new artists and new ideas all of the time.  That is energizing and exciting.

  1. What has been your favorite exhibit at the MOA?

I have so many favorites that it is really hard too hard to decide!

  1. What’s one challenging aspect of your job?

There are always multiple projects and exhibitions that are at different stages so it can be difficult to stay on top of everything and make sure that I am meeting all of the deadlines for various projects.  It’s a kind of continual multi-tasking.

  1. What did you want to be when you grew up?

Lots of different things:  a teacher, a doctor, a writer.  I never really thought about working in museums as a curator or educator—I just didn’t know that those jobs existed! But, once I discovered art history, I loved the combination of art and travel, and stories about people.

  1. What types of cool opportunities has the MOA given you?

Working at the MOA has allowed me to meet many interesting people and artists. There are so many highlights – during our Norman Rockwell exhibition a couple of years ago, we had the incredible opportunity to invite Ruby Bridges to come speak.  She spoke about her experience as a 6-year old being the first African American to integrate an elementary school in the South. Rockwell painted her in his painting The Problem We All Live With, which was included in the exhibition.  Despite her difficulties, she remains hopeful and faithful, continually teaching a message of love and inclusion.

  1. Where is your favorite place you’ve traveled?

I love traveling almost anywhere.  It is always an exciting adventure to see new places and explore them.  Last year I went to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and Hong Kong—both places were so interesting and unique.  I loved seeing the Buddhist statues, Hindu temples and Islamic mosques.  My absolute favorite place to travel though is always Paris.  The art, food, culture, and language are magical!

  1. What women do you most look up to/ are inspired by in your life?

There are so many women that I look up to and am inspired by.  I am surrounded by lots of strong women in my immediate and extended family; they have always shown me that women are strong and powerful.  As a nineteenth-century specialist, I am incredibly inspired by women artists who had to fight against difficult odds to get training and establish themselves as professionals.  There is something incredibly motivating about seeing people work hard for a dream that seems impossible.

  1. What’s a typical day like for you?

I don’t think that there really is a typical day at the museum.  It really all depends upon what exhibitions are up and what stages they are in.  That one of the exciting things about working at a museum, it is always new and fresh.

  1. How do you stay motivated?

I’ve always been a self-motivated person.  I usually have lots of goals of things I want to accomplish and many deadlines so I generally like to take things one day at a time.  As long as I make progress and check a few things off the list, I feel happy with that.

  1. What are some of your hobbies?

Traveling, reading, running, and crocheting

  1. What advise would you give students?

Study hard, explore your options, and take advantage of all of the opportunities available to students.

  1. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

Chips & salsa

14. Who is your favorite artist/what is your favorite artwork?

That is just too hard to say!  I think it is usually whatever artist I am working on or studying at the time.  Right now, I am fascinated with Nina Katchadourian’s work; everytime I go into the gallery I find something witty and clever that I hadn’t noticed before.

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