Meredith Pollock is a member of Marist's M.A. in Museum Studies Class of 2016. She received a Bachelor's degree in Business Management and History from the University of Texas at Austin and is a Major Gifts Officer for The Henry Ford in Dearborn, MI.
Why did you choose the Marist Italy Florence branch campus?
I chose the Marist Italy Florence branch campus because I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the museum field and I wanted a solid foundation of knowledge. I also loved my experience studying abroad for a month in Vienna, Austria, and I wanted to live in Europe for a longer period of time.
What is the learning experience like in Florence?
The learning experience in Florence is incredibly hands-on. Every week we are visiting a different museum or cultural institution, usually led by professionals in the museum field. Being in such close proximity to the rest of Europe allowed us to take class trips to Frankfurt, Germany, and Puglia in southern Italy as well. There are so many opportunities here that you can’t find in the United States. Sometimes I forget that I live in such a historic city but then I pass the Duomo or admire an original Michelangelo sculpture and I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming!
What is your favorite class? Why?
My favorite class is Museum Spaces and Technologies. In this class, we study the impact a museum space has on the visitor experience, and it has encouraged me to examine museums in an entirely new way. Now every time I enter a new museum I notice not only the collection but also the signage, the flow of the room, any unintentional distractions, and many other elements I’d never noticed before. Our professor is very encouraging and makes us feel like our contributions are valued.
What is your favorite place in Florence? Why?
My favorite place in Florence is the Bardini Garden. It has an amazing view over the city that is much less crowded than Piazzale Michelangelo. It also has one of the most beautiful gardens I’ve ever seen, especially in the spring when the wisteria is blooming. Make sure to visit in April for that!
What is your least favorite aspect of living in Florence and why?
Unsurprisingly, Florence is a very popular tourist destination and it gets old constantly ducking and dodging tourists. It only gets worse as the weather gets nicer in the spring! Also, there are few green spaces in the city center. Sometimes I can go an entire day without seeing a tree! There are beautiful parks around the city, but they just take a little more effort to get to.
What type of museum career are you pursuing, or are you planning on earning another degree?
I am interested in a career in museum development and management. It is the perfect way to combine my undergraduate degrees with my Masters. I am considering going back to school for my MBA in a few years so I can develop my business skills like I have had the opportunity to do with my museum skills.
What type of internship do you have or plan to have, and where is it located?
I received the Edsel B. Ford Design History Fellowship at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan for the summer of 2016. I will be completing research projects and presenting my findings at the end of the fellowship.
Where have you traveled during your time in Italy?
I’ve been fortunate to travel a great deal! I’ve traveled within Italy to Cortona, Puglia, Rome, Milan, Tuscania, Viareggio, and Lucca. Outside of Italy, I went to Prague, Frankfurt, Reims, Paris, Giverny, Madrid, Brussels, Antwerp, Bruges, Ghent, Budapest, London, and back to Vienna twice.
What is the most interesting difference between Florence and your home country?
Growing up in the suburbs of Texas, I spent a lot of time in cars. I love that Florence is such a walkable city. We rarely need to take buses or taxis to get to hundreds of attractions, and walking makes you appreciate the beauty of the city. I see so much of Florence on a daily basis and it allows you to discover new places you might not have found in a car!
What advice would you give to a prospective student considering pursuing a Master of Museum Studies degree in Florence?
My number one piece of advice is to be adaptable. You’re not only studying in a different country but also immersing yourself in a different culture. Many of the processes are different and sometimes frustrating and your schedule will often change, but just stay positive and remind yourself that you’re lucky enough to be studying in one of the greatest cities in the world. It’ll all be worth it in the end and you’ll return home forever grateful for this experience!
Profile Tags:Profile Type: Alumni
Major: Museum Studies
Academic School: Communication and the Arts