When we open ourselves to art, we open ourselves to the world – to beauty, craft, to different cultures, to pain and pleasure, expression and emotion.

Staff Spotlight: Amanda Breen

During her time at the Gibbes, Amanda has assumed a variety of roles across different departments.

How long have you been at the Gibbes?
Almost 6 years!

Describe your role here at the Museum.
My main role is to assist the curatorial department with the behind-the-scenes details of special exhibition rotations and help care for and research the permanent collection of art at the Gibbes. This could include researching specific works or artists in our collection, hanging labels in the galleries, or working with outside institutions to provide high resolution images for their publications. When people ask me what I do, I tell them that I get to talk about art all day long, which is kind of heaven for me!

What brought you to the Gibbes? Tell us about how you ended up here!
Born and raised in New Hampshire, I moved to Charleston in the summer of 2011 to intern at the Gibbes. I didn’t know a soul here but, unsurprisingly, fell in love with Charleston and decided to stick around a little longer past my internship. In August of 2012, the Museum offered me a full time position as Membership Coordinator and, well, the rest is history.

My undergraduate degree is in art history and a career in the arts was always high on my list. When I started college, my plan was to go into journalism, but after taking an introductory art history elective during my first semester, I was hooked. I thought that working in a museum would be fascinating, so I feel very blessed to have ended up in a field that I enjoy and in which I learn something new every day. I was also fortunate to be able to go back to graduate school part-time to pursue my Masters in art history in 2015 and just graduated this past fall. Working full time and commuting to the University of South Carolina in Columbia was challenging, but so worth it. I moved from the Development to the Curatorial department to work on more content-related projects and absolutely love it!

In Charleston, Amanda is a long way from her native New England, but she describes the staff at the Gibbes as another family.
In Charleston, Amanda is a long way from her native New England, but she describes the staff at the Gibbes as another family.

The staff here at the Gibbes truly is a family and I have never encountered such a hardworking, kind, and generous group of people. When I started working at the Gibbes, we were still in the planning stages of the renovation so I was able to see before, during, and after the renovation which was incredible. Seeing this team come together to reopen the Museum over the course of several years was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I still pinch myself sometimes when I walk through the building thinking of the strides we’ve made and the potential for the future.

Amanda with Curator of Exhibitions Pam Wall enjoying Patrick Dougherty's Betwixt and Between, Amanda's favorite work in the Museum.
Amanda with Curator of Exhibitions Pam Wall enjoying Patrick Dougherty’s Betwixt and Between, Amanda’s favorite work in the Museum.

What is your favorite work in the collection and why?
Hands down, my favorite work is Betwixt and Between by Patrick Dougherty. I was lucky enough to be involved with the planning and behind-the-scenes work on that project and it was three of the best weeks of my time here at the Gibbes. From cutting saplings in the woods, to transporting two flatbed truck loads of sticks back to the museum and wrestling (literally) them into place in the gallery, it was truly a unique experience and I loved every minute of it! Working so closely with Patrick and getting to understand his process was wonderful and I find myself quite frequently just sitting in the gallery reliving the experience and taking in its beauty. I love the impermanence of the work and that it’s not meant to live forever, something that goes against a lot of what we typically work towards in museums.

Tell us about an interesting project you’ve worked on.
In 2014, while I was the Membership Coordinator, I planned a trip for a group of our Fellows members to Cuba. In terms of logistics (and stress levels…) this was the hardest project I’ve undertaken at the Gibbes, but ultimately the most rewarding. From the moment we landed in Havana, I was mesmerized by the culture and history of Cuba and the warmth of the people we met.

Before moving to the role of Curatorial Assistant, Amanda Breen served as the Gibbes Museum of Art's Membership Coordinator. In this role, she was tasked with planning a trip to Cuba for Museum Fellows! Here, Amanda is seen enjoying the fruits of her labor (and the sun!).
Before moving to the role of Curatorial Assistant, Amanda Breen served as the Gibbes Museum of Art’s Membership Coordinator. In this role, she was tasked with planning a trip to Cuba for Museum Fellows! Here, Amanda is seen enjoying the fruits of her labor (and the sun!).

Besides the Gibbes, where do you take friends and family for the quintessential Charleston/Lowcountry experience?

One of my first stops with out of town guests is the beach, preferably Sullivans Island. As a native New Englander, I still find it thrilling that one can actually go swimming in the ocean without instantly freezing to death, which is the case with the beaches up north. I also think Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner is a hidden gem here in the Lowcountry and try to convince anyone I can to make the trip up there with me!

—Amanda Breen, Gibbes Curatorial Assistant and Guest Blogger
April 13, 2018

Top Image: During her six years at the Gibbes, Amanda has assumed a variety of roles across different departments.

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