Katie Kelley, Exhibition Historian

Katie Kelley, Exhibition Historian

Katie Kelley, Exhibition Historian


I can pinpoint the exact moment that lead to my passion for museums and my desire to pursue a profession that would allow me to educate through museum exhibits.

I was visiting the Art Institute of Chicago when I was 19 years old and had just entered the gallery where the Impressionist art was on display. Immediately upon entering I was struck by Gustave Caillebotte’s Paris Street; Rainy Day. I was awed by the size and beauty of the work- the way I could almost feel the movement of the figures, and how the light and atmosphere seemed to draw me into the scene on that Paris street. Impressionism was quite trendy at the time, and I had seen reproductions of this painting in posters and printed on purses and umbrellas, but experiencing the painting in person soon made it clear to me that no reproduced image could do the original justice.

Gustave Caillebotte’s Paris Street; Rainy Day

I actually felt like I was meeting a celebrity because it was the first time I had really been moved by the power of encountering something so famous, and appreciating exactly how magnificent it was. I left the museum that day feeling almost envious of the employees there. I knew that I wanted to be one of those people who knew everything about each piece, and who made their life’s work creating what I had experienced that day.

With my new found clarity I returned to Western Michigan University, my undergraduate alma mater, and, after a few weeks of researching the field, changed my major to Public History. By the time I received my BA in 2006 I had gained a deep appreciation for how, as Public Historians, we can educate the general public in a way that is engaging and memorable.  While I still have great interest in art, through my two internships- first at an art museum, then at a history museum- I discovered that my real passion is in historical research and education.

I am currently completing my Master’s degree in Public History at the University of Central Florida, working to expand my knowledge and skill set in order to pursue a career in Exhibition Management and Development. This career path offers the rewarding opportunity to facilitate the public in gaining a meaningful understanding of the past and provides an outlet for creativity and continual exploration of new subjects and research ideas.

I feel that the ability to understand and interpret our past allows us a better understanding of ourselves, and helps us to gain an appreciation for our own culture, society and world. It is through the study of history that we first begin to realize knowledge of ourselves as world citizens. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work at AST Exhibits to learn, in a practical and professional sense, exactly how to help others garner this understanding in an entertaining and engaging way through museum exhibits.