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ASU Museum Ambassadors are taking ASU Art Museum to new heights

Students with a love for art are educating visitors at ASU Art Museum


Museum Ambassador Emily Sarten (Right) helps Sandra Erickson, director of graduate law programs at ASU’s Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law, and her daughter, Ellis Erickson, at the weekly Creative Saturday event in Tempe, AZ on Sept. 16, 2017.

ASU students with passion for art and community involvement are putting a new spin on the everyday museum experience. 

These students are involved in a program called ASU Museum Ambassadors, which allows them to engage with the public as well as artists visiting the museum. The ambassadors are employed through the ASU Art Museum and serve as tour guides, security, program leaders and researchers. 

Although these students share a love for art, they don't all share the same major, as ambassadors don't have to be an art major to be involved in the program. 

Although this program is relatively new — it only started in March of 2016 — the students involved have already led a community program immersing families in art called Creative Saturdays.

Andrea Feller, the curator of education at the ASU Art Museum, said she has worked closely with the ambassadors. Since the program has launched, Feller said that there has been more responsibility placed on the students, and that the ambassadors thrive in these leadership positions. 

“They are so passionate about arts and interacting with the public, and they have so much fun doing what they do so, we just sit back sometimes and let them take over," Feller said. "Obviously with a degree of supervision.”

Feller said she has overseen the educational programs at the museum for several years.

"(The ambassadors) work with me, but they'll propose project ideas and then we’ll go through them, and then we make it happen," she said. 

X-Avier Corrales, a graduate student in secondary education, said he has been involved with the ASU Art Museum for two years, but began as an intern for Feller. 

"I actually didn't know I wanted to do education until I took a class with Andrea almost two and a half years ago," Corrales said. 

He said he focused on the educational aspect of art. Once he became more involved in the community activities and worked with the kids who participate in their programs, he found his true passion. 

"I was helping the kids and suddenly in my head I was like 'this is what I want to do'," Corrales said.

Corrales said that an important part of being an ambassador is knowing the exhibits well so they can answer any possible questions from their guests.

"A lot of us research the heck out of all the stuff at the galleries, so that when we are in the galleries we can answer any questions, we can start conversations with people," he said. "We  kind of just get people to talk about art."

Emily Sarten, a junior photography major, said her involvement with the ambassador program has included working the Creative Saturdays and building relationships with returning families.

"It's been really nice because we've gotten a lot of repeat families, so we've gotten to know a lot of these people who do other things with ASU with their kids," Sarten said. 

Sarten said the ambassadors are offered opportunities to learn more about the art while preparing for tours. 

"We sometimes get a one-on-one tour with artists who did the exhibit, so it's a really great opportunity to ask the kinds of questions that the guests might ask and any questions that we have," she said. 

Corrales said his role means he becomes "the jack of all trades of the museum."

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