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PERSPECTIVE: A Farewell from the First Fellow

Posted on December 9, 2020 at 3:00 PM by Sarah Bartlett


My time working with University Museums has been so important to me. After 3 years as an intern and fellow, this chapter comes to a close along with my undergraduate time at Iowa State. I officially graduated on November 28 with degrees in anthropology, classical studies, and political science.

My first Museums' experience was helping the staff move objects out of storage before the renovation to the Brunnier Art Museum in 2017. With the task of moving a massive rug from a top shelf, it took 5 or 6 of us lined up to maneuver it out of the storage room and into its new, temporary home.

One of my first assigned tasks was completing condition reports. Because I was the last to join the intern team, all of the less intense object sections to catalog were already assigned, so by default, I got to tackle the ceramics collection. I remember seeing this sea of ceramics staring back at me as I started examining the objects; almost 2 semesters and 200 pages later I finally finished. After those semesters, I spent some time as a guide at the Farm House Museum. I was able to learn all about its history from one of the most knowledgeable Farm House interns, Sonya Harwood (ISU '20). I followed her around, trying to soak up as much as I could to become a knowledgeable tour guide for the historic home.

Most recently, I was selected as the first Lynette Pohlman Museum Fellow. I distinctly remember getting that call while I was sitting with my friends at my apartment in Rome; it was such a rush of emotions. I can't imagine a better opportunity for an undergraduate student who dreams of working in museums. I got to tap into my years of Japanese language and culture study as the exhibition manager for Contemplate Japan, which was installed in the Brunnier Art Museum for most of 2020. During this project, I worked closely with the Director and Chief Curator Lynette Pohlman to learn hands-on how to curate an exhibition. I then was allowed to curate my own exhibition from start to finish that focused on my love of ancient history. A New World: 600 BCE to 600 CE was developed during the COVID-19 closure and I learned how to adapt and make an exhibition that would be accessible to all.

I am incredibly grateful and forever indebted to the staff at University Museums. In addition, I want to thank Jason Kogan and his late wife Lori Jacobson for their generosity in creating the Pohlman Fellowship and the countless experiences it provided me.

During my time at University Museums, I learned so much about museum work and the history of Iowa State. Through each semester my love for museums grew and I can't wait to take the skills and knowledge I have gained as I start my career.

IMAGES  Please note images were taken before COVID-19 guidelines were established.
TOP: Pohlman Fellow Sarah Bartlett places bamboo baskets in the recently-closed Contemplate Japan exhibition.

BELOW LEFT: Pohlman Fellow Sarah Bartlett (right) with the fellowship's namesake and mentor Lynette Pohlman.

BELOW RIGHT: Sarah Bartlett was also selected to become one of the Faces of Iowa State portraits painted by nationally recognized Iowa artist Rose Frantzen. This painting will join the group of 39 portraits that were completed in 2016-2019 and are currently located on the second floor of the University Library.

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