Having had about a week and a half to reflect on my time in Bolivia (which totally flew by!), I can already recognize the experience becoming more salient. Although it definitely had its challenges, it was without a doubt a tremendous experience!
Working in Bolivia’s National Museum of Art allowed me to have a really important position in a reputable international museum that stands to represent the visual expression of an entire nation. I was given an enormous project, and complete freedom to take it in the direction that I saw fit. Overall, I was able to work with the staff at MNA to institute some major standards-driven archival policies, and to begin an efficient, streamlined, and well-documented digitization process that can be carried forward to finish the collection in due time.
Having been able to look at the work we did as a unit from the perspective of both an insider (albeit temporarily) and an outsider (given my foreign status and lack of permanence in the museum) gave me a newfound insight into what the term ‘management’ means at all. Working with a variety of individuals from a new place and culture, with different (and at times conflicting) time management techniques gave me a new sense of patience, but also forced me to filter out the strengths and weaknesses of everyone I worked with – so that I could ask my questions to the people who would be likely to have the best (& quickest) answers, and to get help or assistance from those whose skill-sets were more apt to match my needs. Those were important professional developments that might not have been weaned so quickly for me in a position at home.
I have to say I’m glad to be back – working a normal schedule (in a warmer climate) with colleagues who hold high expectations and work incredibly efficiently. At the same time, although the pace was slower and the resources were slim, feel fortunate to have been invited in so warmly, and given the chance to work with MNA’s special collections in such a close manner. I hope that the digital archive and its metadata taxonomy prove useful to researchers, future curators, and the interested public moving forward!