'I explored my passion for art history in a museum setting'

Mariana Seibold

History of Art and Literatures in English
Darien, Conn.

What are the most valuable skills you gained from your Arts & Sciences education?

I have gained many valuable skills from my Arts & Sciences education, but I think the most important is my ability to think critically about a topic, analyze it thoughtfully and then comprehensively articulate my opinions about it.  This skill has not only helped me in academics, but in social settings as well.  I have held leadership positions in various extracurricular activities, and this skill set has helped me to serve effectively.  

What is your main extracurricular activity and why is it important to you?

girl in front of painting

I have been the Print Room Intern at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art since junior year, and it has been an incredible experience. This internship has allowed me to explore my passion for art history in a museum setting.  I have been able to see the real-world applications of the knowledge that I have gained in the classroom, and my time as an intern has deepened my academic experience as well. I have been able to handle and closely research pieces taught in my various art history classes, and that hands-on experience has been invaluable. During my time as an intern, I have also learned how to utilize various software programs to expand the reach of art and to enhance my understanding of an artwork, placing my work at the intersection of tech and art history. I know I will benefit from the professional connections I have made at the Johnson and all that I have learned there as I move forward in my career.

What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?

My most memorable experiences came from times with my friends and through my extracurricular activities. I remember sneaking into the Gothics with my friends to see the room we won in the housing lottery freshman year. I remember working stage crew for the Playboi Carti concert as a member of the Cornell Concert Commission. We built the stage, enjoyed the concert and then broke the whole stage down, working for almost 20 hours straight. I also remember sliding down Libe Slope on a piece of cardboard after the first snowstorm freshman year.

As a sophomore, I joined the Watermarks in Rembrandt’s Etchings (WIRE) project at the Johnson Museum. During spring 2019, we worked on etchings from the collection of the Morgan Library and Museum for the database. The project team and I were invited to New York City to present our findings to the Morgan’s staff. We explored the Morgan, viewed the Met exhibit on Dutch masterpiece paintings and saw a play on Broadway.  It was an incredible experience that confirmed my interest in studying art history.

If you were to offer advice to an incoming first year student, what would you say?

I would tell them to explore courses across the various departments in the College of Arts & Sciences, as there are so many interesting topics offered. They might just try something new that becomes their major, as I did. I would also tell any incoming first year student that it is completely fine to be undecided coming into Cornell. I was undecided until I declared as an English major my sophomore spring because I wanted to explore all of my interests. Then I realized that I wanted to continue my studies in History of Art as well, and declared a double major my junior spring. Unless you are planning to be in a pre-professional track, allowing yourself the time to figure out what you want to study is important, and it is also fine if that changes a few times, or if you can’t decide and choose a minor or double major so you can keep learning what you love.

Every year, our faculty nominate graduating Arts & Sciences students to be featured as part of our Extraordinary Journeys series. Read more about the Class of 2021.

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