Brendon Small is a member of Marist's M.A. in Museum Studies Class of 2013. He is originally from Cranford, New Jersey and received a BA in History.
Why did you choose the Marist Florence branch campus?
The Marist Florence branch campus offered an unparalleled opportunity to study in a city rich in art and history. At the same time, being in Florence provided a great opportunity to learn Italian and broaden my perspective of foreign cultures.
What is the learning experience like in Florence?
For a Master’s degree in Museum Studies, I can’t imagine a better setting than Florence, where the city itself is an open-air museum. You can find inspiration around every corner and have the opportunity to gain insight into world-class cultural institutions on a personal level.
What is your favorite class? Why?
My favorite class was Museums and the Public. This class consisted of a series of rotating lectures and onsite visits given by different professionals who are working in the museum field. It provided a sweeping overview of the different careers you can pursue within a museum. As someone who had very little experience in the museum world, it was a great introduction to the different opportunities available after graduating.
What was your most challenging class in Florence? Why?
The most challenging class for me was Museums, Galleries, and the History of Collecting. The class was very traditional in the sense that it required a lot of primary source reading, analysis, and research. Having been out of college for almost five years I found it difficult to adjust to the rigors of heavy academic reading and research, and get back into “college mode.”
What is your favorite place in Florence? Why?
If I had to choose just one place to list as my favorite it would be Piazza Santa Croce. Sprawling out in front of the historic Church of Santa Croce, this is the very square where Savonarola entranced the city of Florence with his apocalyptic preaching over 500 years ago. Today the immense square provides the city with an incredible venue for concerts, Christmas Markets, massive art exhibitions, and more. It seems every week there is something new and amazing going on in the square.
What is your least favorite place in Florence? Why?
My least favorite part of Florence is the lack of open space. Walking in the tight streets, fighting my way through crowds of students, tourists, and the occasional Florentine makes Florence feel claustrophobic at times.
What type of museum career are you pursuing?
I would like to pursue a career as a curator. It is a long road to get there but I have had the opportunity through this class to see the kind of work that goes into being a curator and it has inspired me to pursue that goal.
What type of internship do you have or plan to have? Where?
I hope to intern for BNL in Rome. BNL is a multinational corporate bank. Their branch in Rome owns a very substantial private art collection, and they actively sponsor cultural initiatives to engage the community. I would like to get involved and understand the relationship between corporations in today’s world, and their role in sponsoring cultural programs for the public.
Where have you traveled and where do you plan on traveling during your time in Italy?
I have traveled within Italy a lot and have seen most of the country. It has been amazing exploring each region of Italy and finding diverse and interesting customs and traditions. The best part about being in Europe is that the entire continent is at your fingertips. I plan to see Amsterdam, London, Paris, Madrid, and many other cities, small and large, throughout Europe while I am living in Italy.
What is the most interesting difference between Florence and your home country?
The most interesting difference between Florence and New York is the mentality of the “bella figura.” While New York is avant-guard and very fashion forward, Americans tend to be much more casual in everything we do. Rolling out of bed in sweatpants to grab a bagel and orange juice at the corner deli is a common occurrence for millions of New Yorkers every weekend; it’s something Florentines would never do, even if they had bagels!
What advice would you give to a prospective student considering a Masters in Museum Studies in Florence?
Getting a Master’s degree abroad can add elements of stress you would not encounter if you studied in America. However, if you embrace the experience and rise above the challenges when you earn your M.A. in Florence your life will be forever richer than it otherwise would have been. I saw it as the chance of a lifetime.
Profile Tags:Profile Type: Alumni
Major: Museum Studies
Academic School: Communication and the Arts