Meet Crystal Bridges Volunteer Alan Meyer!
Career Information (Past, Present or Future)
I am retired from a 43-year career as a civil/environmental engineer. Much of my work was in the design, application, and commissioning of industrial wastewater systems. This provided opportunities for extensive travel, observation of many industrial processes, and reducing the environmental footprint for various companies. I especially like seeing the museum’s intern program, as I participated in the University of Tennessee’s Cooperative Engineering program for my undergraduate degree. These types of programs provide invaluable career insight and practical experience.
I have two ‘retirement projects’ sitting in our detached garage. One is a 1955 Studebaker which was the first car I purchased with money I earned. The second is a 1947 Triumph from my late father’s collection. Both will require total restorations, but eventually promise fun times at car club meets and spring/fall cruises.
Favorite artwork or space at the museum
I always pause a few moments at William Trost Richards’s Along the Shore to smell the salt air. It reminds me of the Tasman Sea’s west coast of New Zealand and its frequent storms during our 2.5-year time in that beautiful country.
The Bachman-Wilson house is a marvelous space both inside and out. Oak Park was a favorite trek when friends and family visited during my 18 years residing in Chicago.
How did you learn about the museum and what prompted you to get involved?
Our initial visit to Crystal Bridges was when I was showing Bella Vista to my wife, Pat, as a potential retirement location. We made several more ‘scouting trips’ before I retired. Each trip included a visit to the museum. Once we completed the move from eastern Washington state, our real-estate agent mentioned that Crystal Bridges utilized an extensive volunteer community and suggested I give it try. Glad she did.
In what ways have you been involved as a volunteer with the museum thus far?
My approach has been to try everything …… at least twice. Well, except for gardening. I have not proven to have a green thumb. I am participating in the 2017 Gallery Guide training/program. Helping with the School Lunch program has been very rewarding by interacting with the students and the museum’s education staff. Public greeting, whether in the main lobby or at public events provides interaction with new guests and seasoned members, even Ms. Walton. Becoming a Bachman-Wilson House guide remains a future goal when that training is offered.
What keep you coming back to volunteer, and what do you enjoy most about your volunteer experience?
The anticipation of interaction with staff and guests easily provides reason to make the drive from Bella Vista to Crystal Bridges. The appreciation always shown by the staff, the satisfaction of participating in something positive (like School Lunch), and the smiles and thanks from guests make volunteering fun.
What have you learned or how have you been personally affected from your experience with the Museum
An unanticipated aspect of the Gallery Guide program has been sparking a deeper interest in and appreciation for the artistic process. While I was always supportive of our daughter’s education and career in the arts, learning more of how past and present artists express their art has enriched my understanding and pride in her work.
Do you have a funny or inspirational story to share with us?
While giving a Collection Highlights Tour, at the Professor Benjamin Howard Rand stop, I was engaging the group in a conversation about the cat. Cat parents saw it as contented, dog parents saw it as interfering, and one older lady standing near me quietly said, “I think he is going to dissect it.” We shared a good laugh!
Anything else you would like to share?
I applaud the Museum’s mission to provide engagement of its guests with its art in telling American stories. That engagement is valuable for the 68-year-old retiree who doesn’t get Abstract Expressionism or the 8-year-old student’s first exposure to George Washington’s portrait.
Do you have any advice for individuals considering volunteering with Crystal Bridges?
Once you make the decision to volunteer, try everything, at least twice!