Museum studies major Taylor Roberts ’21 has been awarded the prestigious Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship at the High Museum in Atlanta.
Funded by the Mellon Foundation, the fellowship is a two-year paid program that offers specialized training and mentoring in the curatorial profession for students from communities that are historically underrepresented in the museum field. Fellows participate with the goal of entering a graduate program after earning an undergraduate degree. The High is one of only six partner institutions nationwide that host the Mellon fellowships. Only two fellowships per institution are awarded annually.
Roberts, a curatorial intern at the Oglethorpe University Museum of Art during her freshman year, is the first Oglethorpe student to receive this honor.
“Taylor Roberts is among the top five percent of curatorial interns I have known in my career,” said John Tilford, curator of collections at OUMA. “Such students gain enormous benefit from first-hand museum experience.”
In May, Roberts also participated in the Mellon Summer Academy at the High, a prerequisite for an invitation to apply for the fellowship. Roberts says the academy enabled her to better define her career goals and gave her the confidence to network and talk to others in the industry.
She put those skills to use again a month later at the joint conference of the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries and the International Council of Museums’ Committee for University Museums and Collections, where she served as a panel presenter and moderator
At the conference, Roberts presented her ongoing research for “Stories Without an End,” an upcoming Oglethorpe University Museum of Art exhibition she is curating with OUMA Director Elizabeth Peterson and Anne Gahongayire, development officer for the nonprofit, the Grandmother Project. On view in spring 2019, the exhibition will examine the connections between African art and current political and societal issues in the U.S. and Africa, and highlight the nonprofit’s work to bring resources to women and children in developing countries.
“‘Sharing ‘Stories Without an End’ with other people really validated its unique programming and made me feel honored to be a part of the exhibit.” said Roberts, who presented alongside Tilford, as well as Auburn University faculty and students in the joint panel she also moderated.
“Roberts’ presentation at AAMG is one example of the strong initiative she exhibits in all aspects of her academic career,” said Tilford. “The goal of OUMA first and foremost is to serve the needs of our students and in turn, our museum and the university benefits from such motivated individuals. She continues to stand apart as an exceptional curatorial intern.”
Roberts’ sophomore year promises to be a busy one. In addition to her fellowship, she plans to continue working at the museum and launch an OUMA Student Association, while also serving as an RA and a member of Student Government Association.