History and Art Studies Lead Bethany Hopman '97 to Position at Paisley Park

Lebanon Valley College alum Bethany Hopman poses outside of Paisley Park

Students often feel pressure when choosing a college for many reasons, including not knowing exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives. Bethany Hopman ’97 can attest to this concern and, more importantly, that despite these fears things often work out for the best.  

As a history major at LVC, Hopman had an interest in public history, a field of study the College didn’t specifically offer at the time. However, by working closely with her faculty, she was able to pursue this passion through internships and independent studies. “My favorite experience was doing research for a book that was being published locally. I found records at the Lebanon County courthouse regarding James Buchanan that they didn’t know existed!” she explained.

Now, Hopman enjoys a career putting those same talents to work at Paisley Park, the famous home and recording studio of Prince, the late world-famous artist. Working in the Paisley Park archives has provided her with additional knowledge in the field of properly storing, cataloging, and preserving historic items. 

“The term ‘archives’ often invokes images of old, crumbling books and shelves with boxes of papers and photographs,” she said. “Paisley Park doesn’t have much in the collection that’s crumbling, as the building itself is only 30 years old, and most of the things in it do not predate 1984. The wardrobe, shoes, notepads of lyrics, vehicles, and musical instruments fall under the jurisdiction of the archives.

"There are many years ahead of us and I am lucky enough to get in on the ground floor of Paisley Park becoming a museum," she added.

Hopman shared that no two days are the same at Paisley Park–from setting up new exhibit spaces to escorting an outfit on loan to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland. She also assisted with sending hundreds of items to London for an exhibit at the O2 which will be on display from October through January 2018. 

She credits many of her experiences at LVC for helping to launch her career, including minoring in art, which she cited as a necessary knowledge base for working at a museum.

“Studio art courses were required for the minor, and I did not consider myself an ‘artist,’” she said. “However, the hands-on experience really helped me gain an appreciation for the objects I encountered in museums and galleries.”

Her first museum job was at the College’s Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery, which had just opened, and she later interned with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. 

“This was an amazing opportunity where I ended up working at the Pennsylvania State Archives,” said Hopman, who attended Duquesne University for graduate school as a history major in the Archives, Museums, and Editing Studies Program. 

“These first employment experiences set the groundwork for my future in archives and museums,” she added.

At LVC, students are expected to push the boundaries during their time here and after they leave. Hopman is a shining example of how students can exceed their expectations and go beyond what they had dreamed was possible. 

 

 

Michaela May, Marketing & Communications Student Assistant