My involvement with the collection began as an honors contract for my 20th Century Art History course. My professor and I agreed that we didn’t want to go about this the normal way, i.e. write a paper and call it good, so we began discussing other options. After much consideration, we decided to incorporate my project into the class’s final paper, which entailed writing about a piece within the collection. In order for each student to select a piece of twentieth-century art from the collection, we had to know where everything was located—and that’s where my project came in. After we narrowed down a selection of about 50 potential artworks, I made a list of where the pieces were supposed to be and set out across campus to physically verify the locations.
The semester’s work led to my professor and me seeing many inconsistencies in the collection database which needed to be resolved, so my honors project was extended and my thesis was born. Professor Siddons and I worked on assimilating a very large donation of paintings into the collection as well as reworking the database and the paperwork. The project taught me a lot about what goes on behind the scenes with a large collection like the Gardiner Permanent Collection. As a studio art student and an art educator, this experience has been very beneficial to me in that it has made me realize how much work is required to allow a single piece to be shown or even stored. I couldn’t be happier with my honors thesis experience, and I hope that art students in the future will follow in my footsteps and consider something a little different for their theses.
Morgan Davis is a graduating senior who completed her Honors Thesis Project in 2010.