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Working at the Museum, Part 1

Brandi Cline is the Education Assistant at Crystal Bridges.

As editor of Crystal Bridges’ blog, I’m always sniffing around for new blog ideas and attempting to harry, cajole, or even bribe (a little chocolate goes a long way sometimes) everyone in the Museumfrom interns to curatorsinto contributing posts. My theory is that there is just about nothing that goes on around here that is not in some way blog-worthy and interesting.  Not too long ago I was reminded that one of the most visited pages on our website, consistently, month after month, is our jobs page.  I understand why.  A museum is a cool place to work, and Crystal Bridges is a cool museum. With that in mind, I’m embarking upon a series of posts by various staff members to provide some insights into what they do at the Museum and what it’s like to work in a place as unusual, diverse, and cool as Crystal Bridges.  Our first blogger on this topic is Brandi Cline, Education Assistant (which is really museum code for “Air Traffic Controller, Education Tower”).  — LD

Brandi Cline is the Education Assistant at Crystal Bridges.

Brandi Cline is the Education Assistant at Crystal Bridges.

I recently came across an ad for a shirt that read “Keep Calm and Let the Education Assistant Handle It,” and it got me thinking (which is always dangerous).  I have been working at Crystal Bridges for a little over two years now and recently celebrated my one year anniversary as Education Assistant.  Wow, one year.  It is actually kind of difficult to believe it’s been a whole year.  At the same time, however, it feels like I’ve been doing this for many years.  People joke about “Crystal Bridges Years” as opposed to normal calendar years, and I have to agree.  Here at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art the days are long, but they’re narrow.

To “celebrate” my one year anniversary I decided to start working on an Administrative Handbook: “Everything you need to know to be an Education Assistant at Crystal Bridges” (obviously, the first entry is on creating catchy and succinct titles for handbooks).  I started by writing out a list of all the things I do on a daily/weekly/monthly basis.  Sounds simple, right?  Well, sort of.  Looking at the list, I realized that I’m not just an administrative assistant, I’m a photographer, an accountant, a keeper of keys, an ordering guru (I once ordered 1500 miniature plastic frogs), a librarian, a numbers wrangler, a printer/copier whisperer, an art project guinea pig (of about Preschool level skill), a salesman, a builder of drying racks, a master of spreadsheets, a heavy lifter (those stanchions must weigh at least a ton each), a marathon runner (trust me), a ticketing expert, a program facilitator, and perhaps most important of all, a person who seems to know a lot about things around here.  Whew!  Try fitting all of that on a business card!

Did I mention that I majored in Anthropology with a strong emphasis on Archaeology and Middle Eastern Studies?  What am I doing here?  I didn’t major in Business Administration!  I haven’t even taken an art class since I was in 7th grade!  Nothing I have done before could have prepared me for such a role.  “Other duties as assigned” is a small phrase that can mean a lot!

It may sound to you as if I am complaining or trying to imply that I am asked to do too much, but let me assure you there is no place I would rather be right now.  My job can sometimes be boring, sometimes exhausting.  Sometimes it’s stressful or so frustrating I want to scream.  Sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing and make it up as I go along.  But despite all that, or perhaps because of it, this has, thus far, been the most rewarding, satisfying, wonderful, amazing job I have ever had and quite possibly ever will have.  I know, I know, that’s an awfully grand sweeping statement, but it’s true.  How many people get to come to work at a place as beautiful as this?  How many people get paid to watch a little boy’s eyes light up as he finally figures out how to make that paper flower “just right”?

All joking and long winded tangents aside, my days here at Crystal Bridges may be long and narrow, but the rewards are wide and deep.