Class of '14: Lauren Henry

Class of '14: Lauren Henry



From Monticello to the Museum of Modern Art

Lauren Henry's favorite part of The Field Museum in Chicago isn't the public exhibits but the storage areas.

Specifically, the oversized storage area with all the artifacts that can't fit in a drawer.

As part of a class at Illinois Wesleyan University, Henry walked into the large room and there sat a giant marble sarcophagus, next to a rusted tub from Pompeii, near spears from Papua New Guinea and ancient Chinese sculptures, and on and on.

"It was completely mind-blowing," said Henry, who graduated last weekend from IWU in Bloomington with a double major in international studies and anthropology.

The 2010 Monticello High School graduate aspires to be a collections manager at a museum some day, somewhere. It's a competitive field, so she's flexible on location — as long as she's in a museum.

"I love everything that's old and has history. ... I love the idea of being the person who gets to take care of those artifacts and make sure they continue to be preserved for future generations," said Henry, 21, who leaves Monticello in the next two weeks for a summer internship at The Museum of Modern Art in midtown Manhattan. An unpaid position, Henry knows it's invaluable experience.

MoMA, as it's known, has one of the world's best collections of modern Western masterpieces. It features art exhibits in a wide range of subject matter, mediums and time periods, and its collections include more than 150,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, architectural models and design objects, as well as 22,000 films.

Without a strong art background, Henry believes a local internship at the McLean County Museum of History — where she processed old scrapbooks — helped her get the position. She also volunteered at Mahomet's Museum of the Grand Prairie, inventorying artifacts.

"(MoMA officials) were so thrilled that I had archival experience of any type," Henry said.

Her summer stint starts June 3 in the collections management and exhibition registration area, where she'll maintain records for the museum's art. She will live a 5-minute walk from MoMA at the New Yorker Hotel, in dormitory-style housing that caters to interns.

At Monticello, Henry had no solid career goals but a desire for international studies, because she loved world travel. At IWU, she added an anthropology major after taking the course "Museums, Representation and Cultural Property." The professor, Linda Giles, took students behind the scenes at multiple museums, including The Field.

"That really set me on the track that I am now," Henry said.

Giles said Henry was one of the her best students — enthusiastic, hard-working and perceptive. After MoMA, Henry will attend graduate school, but doesn't know where yet.

She leaves Monticello for New York later this month, and is brushing up on art history and the exhibits and collections at MoMA.

"I've been looking on the website constantly. I feel very familiar with it even though I've never been there," she said. "It's sort of selfish, but I want to be able to see the cool stuff that no one else gets to."

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