Introducing the Student Ambassadors Group
Whether in classes, through exhibitions, or at events, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (BCMA) has always strived to provide campus with resources to foster learning, inspire independent discovery, and create a sense of community. The newly launched Student Ambassadors program, developed by Student Education Assistants Ramiro Stormi ’23, Sinclaire Ledahl ’23, and Jane Wang ’23 in collaboration with Museum staff, aims to further integrate the museum into the campus community. As leaders of this group, we are excited to share stories and updates behind the student-driven and student-led program, which has finally taken off after a semester-long planning process.
While the Museum has been treasured by generations of Bowdoin grads as a site for appreciation and respite, we are dedicated to ensuring that more students can use the BCMA’s resources to the fullest. Through conversations with different peers, the Education Assistants gradually narrowed down the goal for a new student engagement initiative—to bring more people into the Museum. More specifically, we were interested in how to make the galleries welcoming, fun, and accessible, especially for those who may not have much prior experience with art. Prompted by the desire to reframe the Museum as a student-centered communal space, ideas for the program began to take shape after several brainstorming sessions between the Education Assistants and Sabrina Lin, Curatorial Assistant and Manager of Student Programs. After receiving a large number of outstanding applications, the Museum has since been joined by the very first cohort of eight Ambassadors: Ingrid Astley ’24, Claire Nguyen ’25, Amira Oguntoyinbo ’24, Jane Olsen ’24, Dylan Richmond ’24, Julia Smart ’25, Alex Spear ’24, and Joy Wang ’24. The Ambassadors have begun their training and work since March and are already diving into a variety of programming and outreach activities.
To kick off events in April, the Ambassadors made their debut at the Spring Student Night, which was jointly organized by the Student Activities Office and the BCMA. Bringing more than 600 students into the Museum, this event gave students an opportunity to dress up and enjoy a night of community and celebration at the Museum. This year, the eight Ambassadors were stationed throughout the galleries and shared their own personal highlights of the exhibition with students. For Ingrid Astley ’24, Jona Frank: Model Home was her favorite exhibition, as she was immediately enchanted by how “the photographs tell a narrative about Frank’s childhood and offer insight into her memory and young imagination.” Others chose to highlight pieces such as Apollo and Daphne by Pontormo and Geo Neptune’s basket, Apikcilu Binds the Sun. The group was delighted to share their enthusiasm for the Museum with their friends and other visitors during the event. It was wonderful to see so many students enjoying the galleries, taking pictures, and interacting with the immersive components of the exhibitions, especially those who might not have otherwise paid attention to these details. “I genuinely loved the museum since the first time I visited, but I was also super surprised by how little some students know about it, ” Claire Nguyen ’25 added. “I am excited by the idea of helping to bring more engagement and awareness to the museum.”
In addition to expanding the Museum’s student engagement, the Ambassadors are also given insights into how the Museum operates through opportunities to learn closely alongside the Co-Directors and the curatorial team. Recently, the group joined Sean Burrus, Interim Curator and Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow, and Sabrina Lin on a special tour of the Museum’s latest exhibition, Antiquity & America: The Ancient Mediterranean in the United States. Burrus shared personal stories of realizing the exhibition and the inside scoop about his curatorial process, showing students the tremendous time and energy involved in creating an exhibition with over 300 objects. Describing how the Museum has enriched her learning, Jane Olsen ’24 shared: “I have learned a lot about all that the museum has to offer, whether that be the exhibitions on the walls, or talks with visiting artists.” The Ambassadors also explored Powdered Pigments: Three Centuries of Pastel Drawings and practiced their visual analysis skills in the gallery. From this experience, some shared their excitement to learn behind-the-scenes stories, while others grew more comfortable talking and interpreting visual media without previous knowledge or art history experience. Dylan Richmond ’24, for example, shared that the workshop made him appreciate the thought behind the curatorial process: “learning about this process, including all the time it takes deliberating pieces and all the artwork that inevitably must be left out, makes me appreciate which and how pieces are placed within museums much deeper than I ever would have,” Richmond noted.
While the Ambassadors will be working together as a group, each student will take on distinct roles and responsibilities. For example, Julia Smart ’25 comes to the program with great enthusiasm to spread the word about the Museum. “It will be fun to collaborate on marketing strategies, interact with the student body and the Brunswick community,” Smart shared. “I want the Art Museum to be both a fantastic resource for students to utilize and a place of social interaction and enjoyment!” Other Ambassadors are similarly eager to grow the Museum’s social media presence, such as creating an Instagram account associated with the Ambassador group. Potential projects may include inviting different student groups into the Museum on special visits, collaborating with college houses, affinity groups, sports teams, among others.
For the remaining weeks of the semester, the Student Ambassadors will be actively collaborating with the Museum to present a campus-wide signature event aimed at sparking community engagement. The Ambassadors are thrilled to carry forward the excitement from Student Night about current exhibitions and design a fun event to draw more students into the Museum. With this, stay tuned for more information on the Ambassadors program and we look forward to seeing you at future events!
Sinclaire Ledahl ’23 and Jane Wang ’23
Student Education Assistants
Bowdoin College Museum of Art