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SEPTEMBER 27

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Behind the Art: Alum Accepts Job at York County History Center

Sarah Johnson is an art and art history graduate from Lebanon Valley College

Growing up in historic Chester County close to the bustling city of Philadelphia, Sarah Johnson ’18 found herself drawn to the history and art around her. This curiosity led her to LVC, where she pursued an undergraduate degree in art and art history.

During her time at the College, Johnson worked closely with Dr. Barbra McNulty, director of the Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery and assistant professor of art history, as a gallery attendant and intern. Johnson researched objects, gave tours, and learned about exhibit design.

Additionally, Johnson completed a grant-funded project alongside three other students to research, develop, and write a catalog for Sacred: Image, Text, Ritual, an exhibition exploring five major religions and their intersections. 

“I feel honored and proud to have showcased my work alongside Dr. McNulty,” said Johnson. “Even after graduating, I presented and networked at several museum conferences thanks to her.”

In addition to her time with McNulty, Johnson credits Dr. Michael Pittari, director and professor of creative arts, and Dr. Grant Taylor, professor of art and art history, for mentoring her during her time at LVC. She recalled working with Pittari to hang final projects when he brought up the idea of becoming a registrar or collections manager that she said guided her down the path she's on today.

Along with her on-campus experiences, Johnson studied abroad in Perugia, Italy, as a junior. She worked at two museums while continuing her studies.

“My time in Italy was truly one of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life,” said Johnson. “I learned how museums operate in another country, not to mention studying Italian art in the heart of Italy.”

Upon graduating, Johnson completed an internship at the Brandywine River Museum of Art in Chadds Ford, Pa., where she helped research the collection, worked on future exhibits, and wrote object labels for their website. As the internship came to an end, Johnson found herself wanting to pursue her passion for the arts further and enrolled in a museums studies master’s program, which she completed last fall. 

Johnson is excited to continue her career at York County History Center (YCHC) where she recently accepted a collections inventory assistant position. 

At YCHC, Johnson works a hybrid schedule that includes in-person three days a week conducting inventory on a collection, while spending the remaining two days at home digitizing paper records and cleaning up database files. 

“In the short few weeks that I have worked at YCHC, I gained invaluable experience handling objects, learning about the collections, and working with the PastPerfect database system,” said Johnson. “This position has solidified my passion to pursue a career as a collections manager.” 

As Johnson continues to work with art and learn about their origins, she finds herself reminded of her passion for art and art history every day. For now, Johnson plans to continue building upon her skills at YCHC in hopes of pursuing a position at a larger museum. 

“Museums are meeting places of culture, learning, and entertainment,” said Johnson. “They embody the passions of the artists and people that work there. I feel honored to share my love of art and history through exhibition development and caring for the art.”

Editor's Note: Art and art history is now part of LVC's creative arts major.

 

-- Parker Gallagher, Marketing & Communications Student Assistant