What’s it like to be surrounded by priceless pieces of modern and contemporary art on a daily basis?
Ask Claire Charlesworth ’07, who works at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in midtown Manhattan, New York City.
A Development Associate in the Membership Marketing Department, Charlesworth has spent the last five years creating an exciting career path within one of the world’s most prestigious museums.
Before her professional career began, Charlesworth was a student at Gettysburg College. As a first-year, she contemplated pursuing a psychology or sociology major. She also considered majoring in anthropology. But everything changed after an experience abroad. “Studying in Aix-en-Provence, France during my sophomore year inspired me to declare art history as my major,” said Charlesworth. “I fell in love with the art, architecture, and culture there.”
In addition to prompting her to major in art history, her experiences studying off-campus also helped prepare her for her future. “Claire spent two semesters away: one in France, where she was inspired by the rich artistic traditions of the area, and another in Washington, D.C., where she gained valuable professional experience as an intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts,” said Felicia Else, associate professor of art and art history. “She sets a great example of how students can use off-campus studies to push themselves intellectually and also develop professional skills – all while having a lot of fun in exciting places.”
Because of her education, study abroad experience in France, and her internship in D.C., Charlesworth knew she wanted to work at a museum after graduating. “I started at MoMA as a membership sales assistant, and since then I’ve worked my way up to development associate in the Membership Marketing Department,” she said. “It’s all about getting your foot in the door.”
We’re not surprised Charlesworth has done so well since graduating.
“Generally speaking, students from liberal arts backgrounds have the potential to move quickly up the ladder,” said Katy Mattson, associate director of the Center for Career Development. “Gettysburg alumni are able to think critically and communicate clearly, allowing them to demonstrate their value to a company and rise through the ranks.”
In her current role at MoMA, Charlesworth handles all of the marketing for the museum’s Membership Department. This includes coordinating direct mail, paper and online advertising, social media, and all onsite marketing campaigns. “I create copy for our letters, edit them during each step in the production process, pull mailing information from our membership database, ensure all data is correctly implemented into our mailings, and review printed proofs,” said Charlesworth. “I also work with numerous departments within MoMA, including Digital Media and IT on our new Digital Member Lounge, and Graphics on the creation of our print and online ads as well as on-site collateral.”
She has great pride in her Gettysburg education.
“My liberal arts background really prepared me to roll with the punches and think outside of the box at work, and these are very important characteristics to working in a museum,” said Charlesworth. “Our staff is not huge, so everyone wears many hats.”
But Charlesworth is not the only one that believes in the value of a liberal arts education.
“Claire is a great example of the flexibility and dynamism of the art history major within a liberal arts education,” said professor Else. “Through hard work, patience, and initiative, Claire achieved a perfect balance of those interests: working in a marketing department at one of the most famous art museums in the country.”
And she hasn’t forgotten where she came from.
Charlesworth makes a habit of returning to campus to work with students on careers in art. “It’s really fun to come back to Gettysburg and talk to the art and art history students,” she said. “I’m happy to give them a little perspective and answer their questions about life after graduation.” She continues to impress professors in the process: “Claire has been an invaluable resource for students and gives her time generously,” said professor Else. “She shares advice, offers to look over resumes, is willing to help students interested in applying for internships at MoMA, and offers to be a point of contact to those interested in museum work in New York City.”
Were you wondering as much as we were about what Charlesworth’s favorite work of art is at MoMA?
Well we asked her, but it turns out deciding on just one piece is no easy assignment. “We have so many amazing works in our permanent collection,” said Charlesworth. “I’ve always been a huge fan of Cezanne (pictured left), especially because of my studies in Aix-en-Provence – and he was the subject of my thesis. But I also love Chuck Close. I don’t think I could narrow it down to one specific piece of either of theirs that’s my favorite!”
So where does Charlesworth see herself five years from now? “I really love working in marketing, so I hope to continue in this career path, perhaps adding additional digital marketing responsibilities to my plate in the future,” she said. “I’m going to continue to take web production courses at New York University, so ideally I’d like to combine my knowledge in marketing and the web.”
Whatever she ends up doing, we know she’ll continue to be Gettysburg great!