A Future In History

If a student hopes to make a career working in the nation's leading museums, where is the best place for her to go to school?

At a university with a leading museum, of course.

Jennifer Torwudzo, '11, is an Indianapolis resident who is majoring in history, with an emphasis on public history—a specialty that focuses on bringing history to the people through museums and documentaries.

Through her work as photography assistant and docent for the David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University, she is able to practice that concept on a daily basis. The museum is in the process of digitizing its entire collection, a project in which Torwudzo is assisting.

The DIDO (Digital Images Delivered Online) imaging project is funded through a $150,000 federal grant that is allowing the museum to digitize its collection of nearly 11,000 works of art and share it via an online database. Two early success stories tell museum officials their effort is worthwhile.

First, digitization is allowing K-12 teachers to incorporate items from the museum's collection into daily class assignments. Second, increased access to the collection has raised the museum's profile. In the span of two weeks, The New York Times published two of the museum's prominent paintings in feature articles, a direct result of the museum's digital entries appearing at the top of Internet search engine inquiries.

Building the database is an ongoing task, and sometimes it's an audience request that drives the process. When a professor or student is searching for a particular work of art not yet in the system, many times it is Torwudzo who organizes its publication.

"I spend a lot of time connecting students and professors to the digital images," she says. "Recently, we've fielded requests for pieces that are 30 years old. I track down the artwork in question, have it photographed, add it to the database, and e-mail it to them."

Meshing her museum duties, classroom studies, and emerging media skills has helped Torwudzo focus her career search.

"I'm getting emerging media experience in the classroom, and I'm also getting the practical experience from working in the museum," says Torwudzo, who's hopeful this combination will help her land a job at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

More in Making an Impact

"I'm getting emerging media experience in the classroom, and I'm also getting the practical experience from working in the museum."

—Jennifer Torwudzo, '11