High Museum of Art
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High Museum of Art

5 Things I Learned While Working (As a Teen) at the High Museum

Before Eleanor wrapped up her time on the High’s Teen Team, she shared her key takeaways.

Eleanor tells visitors about the High’s Teen Team.

Hey, y’all! My name is Eleanor, and I am lucky enough to work on the Teen Team at the High Museum of Art. That’s me on the left.

If you haven’t heard of the Teen Team, I’ll give you a quick rundown. We’re a group of eighteen high school juniors and seniors who help plan teen events for the High Museum.

On the First Friday of every month, we host Open Studio, an event where teens can come to work on art, listen to music, and hang out. Twice a year, we plan and host Teen Night, a night of music, art-making activities, and gallery tours. I like to think of Teen Night as a celebration for the eccentric and creative, a night that we hope makes all teens feel welcome and equally considered.

Over the summer, the Teen Team came in each week to plan teen programs, meet curators, and work on an exhibition of artwork by Atlanta teens. My time on the Teen Team has been a mix of planning events, learning about the Museum, and making my own art. In short, being on the Teen Team is the best “high school job” an art nerd could possibly hope for.

When I was asked to write a blog post about my time on the Teen Team, I did a lot of reflecting on my past year at the Museum. There are so many stories I could share about my summer and the unique and amazing memories the Teen Team has fostered. I realized that, above all else, working at the High has been a learning experience: I’ve learned the ins and outs of the museum world as well as the ins and outs of the Teen Team experience. So here are five of the many things I’ve learned while working at the High. I hope you enjoy!

1. There’s more to the museum staff than curators and security guards.

Before working at the High, I assumed that the museum staff didn’t extend much further than the people who curate the art and the people who keep the art safe. I had never stopped to consider how much more extensive the role of the museum is than simply presenting art. Within my first day, I realized that there are multiple departments devoted to the many aspects of running a museum. There is an entire education department that (in my humble opinion) truly makes the museum function. They are the people who make the art accessible, who make it understandable to as many people as possible, and who foster the relationship between the viewers and the works.

2. A lot of thought goes into every museum event.

Of course, I knew this before working on the Teen Team, but I didn’t really know it. I learned that planning museum events isn’t as simple as ordering the supplies and drawing up the itinerary. With every event comes a myriad of questions that aren’t necessarily easy to answer. For example, the Teen Team spent a significant amount of time discussing how we could make Teen Night accessible and enjoyable for a huge range of people. Part of the beauty of the team is that we’re composed of people from different backgrounds who can provide a range of viewpoints to make every event as successful as possible.

3. Pardon the cliché, but teamwork makes the dream work!

This is a simple one. Before I joined the Teen Team, group work meant stress and uneven workloads. However, the Teen Team taught me that a positive and supportive team can function like clockwork. When you let people embrace their strengths and step up to the plate when the time is right, teamwork makes daunting tasks simple.

4. People come to the Museum for all different reasons.

When working at my first Open Studio, I assumed that our main attendees would be groups of friends who enjoy making art. I was surprised to see that a lot of people come alone and even more surprised that many people who come don’t consider themselves to be artistic.

Through talking to the teens at Open Studio, I learned that a lot of people come to make friends and to join in on the social aspect of the night. Some teens want to make art, but in high school they simply haven’t been given the opportunity to test their creativity and try something new. Not everyone who comes to the Museum already loves art; everybody has a different reason for coming and a different hope for their time here.

5. Being a supporter of the arts is just as important as being an artist.

Before working on the Teen Team, I assumed that my involvement in the arts would end with my high school art classes. I’ve always made art, but I figured that once I graduated, my art “career” would end. However, the Teen Team provided me the opportunity to meet people from all corners of the art industry. I learned that not everyone who plays crucial roles in the art world actually creates art. No matter where my life takes me, I can always be involved in the arts.

My time on the Teen Team ends this month, but I will carry this experience with me for the rest of my life.

By Eleanor Weber, Teen Team Member and Senior at Campbell High School

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