A Closer Look: Our New Podcast Series

By Jennifer Aubin
May 26, 2021
This photograph of the interior of the Harvard Art Museums is tinted a bluish-green hue. It shows two levels of arcades with several arches. Various works of art are visible on the wall on the second level. At bottom are the words “A Closer Look.”

In Season 1 of our new podcast, colleagues let us know how their career paths led them to the museums—all in their own words.

Recently launched, the first season of A Closer Look: The Harvard Art Museums Podcast is dedicated to sharing engaging personal stories from our staff about their work. The season will feature 10 episodes in all, representing an array of voices from departments across the museums. 

Hosts Tara Metal and Michael Ricca, who are also on staff, seek to demystify the kind of work that takes place in an art museum and explore jobs that listeners may never have considered. Guests have included an archivist, an art conservator, fine art photographers, and curatorial, collections management, and safety and security staff. They share their backgrounds, talk about the sometimes surprising ways they arrived at their current roles, and describe what those positions entail, while also dispensing some good-natured advice. Metal hopes that these open and honest conversations—which include tales of unglamorous first jobs, missed opportunities, and perseverance—will offer a balanced look, pulling back the curtain a bit and inspiring listeners to think about a museum career.

There are two photos. At left is a photo of Tara Metal smiling directly at the viewer. She is standing in a narrow cobblestone alley with buildings and planters filled with greenery on either side of her. The path of the alley stretches behind her. She has brown eyes, her brown hair is tied back, and sunglasses are perched on her head. She wears blue pants and a black long-sleeve turtleneck top, with an olive-green colored jacket over that. A brown bag is slung over her right shoulder. The right photo is of Michael Ricca, who is smiling and leaning against a stone wall, which borders a harbor. He has brown eyes and short brown hair, and wears a black t-shirt, a gray jacket, and jeans.
Meet the hosts: Tara Metal is the museums’ digital content manager and founder of the podcast series, and Michael Ricca is the administrative coordinator for the Deputy Director’s Office.

Inspiration for the Podcast

While the idea of a podcast had been on digital content manager Tara Metal’s wish list for some time, there were two factors that helped push the initiative into being: an increased reliance on and need for digital content while the museums are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the conversations that colleagues at Harvard were having around issues of diversity and inclusion in the wake of continued violence, injustice, and inequity experienced by a range of marginalized communities. 

“We thought about what we could do in terms of digital content to help make the museums more welcoming, more accessible, and more diverse,” said Metal. “Sharing interviews with our wonderful staff about what their jobs are like and how they got them in the first place felt like a good place to start. My hope is that people interested in museum work who are worried they can’t get these jobs will listen and think, ‘I see myself in that story; I can get a job like that.’” 

Metal enlisted the help of colleague Michael Ricca, who is administrative coordinator for the museums’ Deputy Director’s Office and lends his voice as co-host of the podcast. His longtime experience as a singer and storyteller in jazz, cabaret, theater, and other venues made him a perfect match. For him, the experience is rewarding: “It’s been a great comfort to have this chance to connect with colleagues I haven’t seen for over a year. It’s also been gratifying to hear from listeners about how much they’ve enjoyed the conversations. The whole process felt like having lunch with a group of friends, and it reminded me what a great staff we have.”

The podcast is hosted on Soundcloud, with a dedicated presence on the museums’ website. Listeners can also subscribe through the podcast platform of their choice, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pandora, Spotify, Stitcher, and more. 

  • Michelle Interrante has dark hair that is pulled back. She is smiling toward the viewer with her head tilted slightly downward. She is wearing a striped cardigan sweater and dark thick-framed glasses. A wooden box with a paper tag hanging from it is in the foreground. There’s a blue overlay on the image with white text that reads “Episode 001,” “Archivist,” and “A Closer Look.”
    of Michelle Interrante discusses her work as assistant archivist on Episode 1/Season 1 of A Closer Look.
  • Heather Linton is bent forward over a table, closely looking at framed artworks laid out in front of her. She wears glasses and her dark hair falls forward and frames her face. There’s a blue overlay on the image with white text that reads “Episode 002,” “Curatorial Assistant,” and “A Closer Look.”
    of In Episode 2, Heather Linton discusses how her love of photography led to her position as curatorial assistant in the museums’ Division of European and American Art.
  • Nilton Barbosa smiles directly at the viewer. He is wearing a pale-colored long-sleeved dress shirt with a collar and a dark tie. He is standing in one of the museums’ galleries with sculptures of two ancient busts in the background. There’s a greenish-blue overlay on the image with white text that reads “Episode 003,” “Director of Security,” and “A Closer Look.”
    of In Episode 3, director of safety and security Nilton Barbosa shares his thoughts on leadership skills, collaboration, and peaceful moments after-hours in the museums.
  • Angela Chang is bent slightly forward over a three-dimensional artwork on a table in front of her. She has dark, shoulder-length hair and is smiling. She is wearing a work apron over a dark short-sleeved t-shirt and holds a long-handled brush in her right hand and a vacuum nozzle in her other hand. There’s a teal overlay on the image with white text that reads “Episode 004,” “Head of the Objects Lab,” and “A Closer Look.”
    of In Episode 4, Angela Chang, head of the objects lab in the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, discusses her training and experience as a conservator.
  • Karen Gausch is standing near the top of a folding ladder with an ancient carved stone sculpture in front of her and to the left. She has short curly hair and wears a dark long-sleeved turtleneck, with her sleeves pushed up to her elbows. Her gloved hands are touching the base of the sculpture, and she’s looking down, in the act of speaking with another person not in the picture. There’s a green overlay on the image with white text that reads “Episode 005,” “Exhibition Production Manager,” and “A Closer Look.”
    of In Episode 5, Karen Gausch charts her career from installing art around New York City to managing a massive art move at the Harvard Art Museums.
  • Liz Sirrine is pulling a rope-like cord upward with her right hand. Her hand is at shoulder height, with the cord dropping down from either side of her fist.  She looks downward and has a slight smile on her face. Her dark hair is in an updo and she wears a short-sleeved blouse with a floral print. There’s a spring green overlay on the image with white text that reads “Episode 006,” “Collections Assistant,” and “A Closer Look.”
    of In Episode 6, collections assistant Liz Sirrine shares insights on her work as a highly trained art handler who makes objects accessible to visitors to our Art Study Center.
  • Erik Lindahl is standing in a gallery with his hands resting on a pedestal that is waist-high in front of him. The pedestal has stacks of papers and a 3D object resting on its surface. He is looking to his right, in the act of listening to another person not in the picture. He has wavy shoulder-length hair and glasses and is wearing a striped dress shirt with the collar unbuttoned at the neck, with a dark long-sleeved cardigan over it. There’s a green overlay on the image with white text that reads “Episode 007,” “Exhibition Production Specialist,” and “A Closer Look.”
    of In Episode 7, Erik Lindahl discusses his path to becoming exhibition production specialist as well as what it’s like installing paintings and sculpture in our galleries.

Stay tuned—the remaining three episodes of Season 1 will be released very soon! And plans for future seasons are in the works.

 

Jennifer Aubin is the public relations manager at the Harvard Art Museums.

A Closer Look: The Harvard Art Museums Podcast, Season 1

Working at the Museums

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