They greet you at the door, they wave as you go, they lead tours, organize events, sweep the galleries, guard the art, and run the shop. They create, educate, question, consider, and challenge the museum to reach new heights. The heart of WAM, they are our student staff — many of whom will be leaving the University as brand new graduates to venture out and take on whatever lies ahead!
Most of our senior student staff has been with the museum for the majority of their time on campus. Here’s a look at who they are, their time with WAM, and just what is in store for them next. We will miss each and every one of you, and we wish you all the best!
Kimball Blake, Bachelor of Science in Biology, minors in Chemistry and Pharmacology
Wrapping up two-and-a-half years at WAM, Blake joined Events Staff as a sophomore in the spring of 2017. Looking for campus jobs, he and a friend applied together.
“We were all talking about jobs and he said I should work at the Weisman. I thought, I might as well apply and see what it’s like,” Blake said.
His interview was the first time he had ever visited WAM!
“This was the first job I had that was a lot of peers my age working together. It’s a unique mindset to work with people that are the same age as you,” he said.
Blake will be attending the University of Minnesota’s Pharmacy School following graduation.
Lauren Holly, Bachelor of Science in Technical Writing and Communication
Looking to add more art into her life, Holly joined WAM as a Gallery Host in January. Something she’s enjoyed most about her WAM experience has been interacting with other students from diverse backgrounds whom she may have never crossed paths with otherwise.
“In this position, I have been encouraged to think creatively about how to get people involved in art and how to facilitate meaningful conversation. I think these skills are very transferrable to a variety of professional settings,” she said.
Holly plans to stay in Minneapolis for a little while as she applies for jobs. She has her fingers crossed for a writing or communications position in Chicago or New York!
Allen Witkowski, Bachelor of Art in Art History and English
Visitor Services & Gallery Guard
Witkowski began working with WAM as a gallery guard, and later became part of the visitor services team. A creative himself, Witkowski feels working at WAM has propelled his personal productivity.
“Just seeing the museum business and knowing and being around art, having that creative fuel right next to me has helped me,” he said.
A Wisconsin native, Witkowski has being making posters for the Milwaukee Bucks in addition to creating a short-film and an abundance of screenplays. Oh, he’s also writing a novel.
“I think what I want to do is set up my own studio where people can come to me for creative advice, and at the same time work on personal projects, advertising myself as a freelance creator,” Witkowski said.
Fig Johnston, Bachelor of Design in Architecture
Senior Sales Associate, WAM Gift Shop
Johnston applied to the WAM Gift Shop because of the incredible gifts they found while shopping—a book about carving wooden spoons, and “the most adorable clay Ox figurine.”
“I started out as pretty shy and have gotten so much more comfortable talking to new people. That sounds pretty subtle, but it’s really huge. I feel more confident everywhere I go, knowing that I can create a positive interaction with those around me even if they’re strangers,” Johnston said.
Johnston plans to pursue a job in architecture and ecological science. They ideally hope to create an interdisciplinary career that incorporates design, art, ecology, Indigenous cultural revitalization, and community building.
“I have always respected that the Weisman is free and accessible to everyone, all the time. Because of this, I was able to go to art museums as a kid and teenager, and that creative environment has informed the rest of my life,” Johnston said. “I couldn’t be pursuing an architecture career now without the free, public art museums in my life!”
Max Struve, Marketing major and minor in Business Analytics
Initially only searching for an accessible campus job, Struve has worked with WAM for two years.
“Being a custodian, I am the last person in the building on the nights that I close. That being said, I am responsible for making sure everything is locked up and the security system is armed properly before I leave,” Struve said. “My job has an impact on the everyday functions of the museum so I felt that in order for other people to enjoy their visits, I had to do a good job.”
Struve is headed to Milwaukee after graduation where he will be surrounded by dogs every single day, which is arguably the best job ever. He will begin a full-time position as an E-Commerce Analyst at dog-friendly office, Stella & Chewy’s—a natural pet food company! He plans to adopt a dog of his own.
Madalyn Johnson, Bachelor of Arts in Strategic Communications, minor in Environmental Science Policy, Management, and Sustainability Studies
Johnson joined the WAM Collective her freshmen year. She has been a member ever since!
“I was just looking for a way to find a community my freshmen year when I was a little lost and trying to adjust. I still remember my interview,” she said.
The WAM Collective has been an indispensable part of Johnson’s college experience. Over the years, she has met so many new people and been able to see the Collective and its events develop and grow.
“WAM is one of the places on campus that feels most like home to me, and the relationships I have built there keep me coming back for more. I’m very grateful for everything that the WAM Collective is and all of the experience it has given me,” Johnson said.
The day after she graduates, Johnson will be on her way to Southeast Asia to lead summer programs for high school students engaged with outdoor recreation and cross culture experiential learning.
Melissa Markay, Bachelor of Science in Business, Public & Nonprofit Management and Human Resources
WAM Collective & CAB Student Representative
Markay joined the WAM Collective her sophomore year after taking an influential art and ecology course where she explored the Twin Cities’ art scene and worked with local artists. She then began working with WAM’s non-profit College Advisory Board (CAB).
“WAM has been an incredible creative outlet for me, as I am a student in the business school. It has given me experience sitting on a professional nonprofit board,” Markay said.
After graduation, Markay will spend the summer at the University of Minnesota Foundation, after which she will begin working full time in nonprofit development.