MA in Art History

Elizabeth Denholm, 2020

Elizabeth Denholm

So what are you up to now professionally?
I am the Associate Registrar at the Delaware Art Museum. I started at the Museum in March 2020 during my last semester of the graduate program. I perform registration, collections management, and collections care duties associated with the Museum’s permanent collection, loans, long-term loans, and special exhibitions. I coordinate and document conservation, handling, installation, shipping, storage, and preservation of works of art. I travel as a courier with objects in the collection to supervise packing and installation and check the condition of the Museum’s work on loan to other venues. I also help manage the Office of Rights and Reproductions, for which I answer inquiries about and process all requests for images of permanent collection artworks.

Because we are a small institution, I have the opportunity to take on additional projects, like performing light artwork conservation and contributing content focused on the collection to our marketing and social media department.

How do you think your Art History major/MA at Mason prepared you for your career?

The Art History MA program directly contributed to my professional growth. When I entered the program I was working for a private art collector but hoping to transition to a museum environment. Through Mason's program, I was able to take a range of incredible courses that both related to my existing research interests and expanded my knowledge and skill set. I built my writing portfolio through research papers for courses and a master's thesis. However, Mason also provided opportunities to apply research to practical projects, like the creation of digital resources and online exhibitions, which is increasingly relevant in the current museum/art history field. I cannot speak highly enough of the faculty in the Art History Department at Mason. Not only are they incredibly knowledgeable and ensure each class is engaging, but they also offer unwavering support for each student and their individual academic and career goals. 

Why did you choose Art History as a major in the first place?

I chose to pursue an MA in Art History because I knew I wanted to work in art museums. My undergraduate degree was also in Art History (Catholic University, 2014). I knew I was interested in working in museum collections, but I also wanted to continue work in research and writing. Because of this need to balance my interests, I chose an Art History program rather than Museum Studies to provide more latitude as I continued on in my career. Initially, I chose Mason because it was a small program that offered a terminal Art History MA which was geared toward working professionals. Because most courses took place in the late afternoon/evening, I was able to continue to work full time throughout the program, which was essential for me. Aside from practical reasons, I was also drawn to the program because of the positive culture. The faculty boasts a diverse research expertise and professional experience and they are sincerely invested in the success of each student. The small student cohorts were likewise wonderful; students supported and encouraged one another rather than competing. Overall, the Mason Art History MA program was the perfect choice for me and my professional goals. The program deepened and expanded my research interests and improved my writing and project management skills, which ultimately contributed to my long-term career goals.