Hannah Cerne: My Experiences at UNMAM, 2023-2024

Written by Hannah Cerne, UNMAM Graduate Research Assistant and Study Room Assistant.

Image courtesy of Hannah Cerne.

My time at The University of New Mexico (UNM) has been extraordinary in every way. I improved myself as a student and as a future museum professional through my courses and various roles at the University of New Mexico Art Museum (UNMAM). I came to UNM following my graduation from the University of Central Oklahoma with a minor in Global Arts and Visual Culture and a Bachelor’s in Art Administration. I am currently enrolled in the Master of Arts in Museum Studies program and was recently accepted to the Master of Arts in Art History program at UNM. I serve as a Graduate Research Assistant and Study Room Assistant at UNMAM and as a cartoonist for the Daily Lobo. I am an active member of the Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums (GLAM) club and the UNMAM Student Advisory Council. 

I began my semester as a Graduate Research Assistant at UNMAM looking through the museum’s archives to create an exhibition timeline. This project is quite an undertaking, with 60 years of history to look through and hundreds of unique exhibitions displayed over the years. This project led me to my first idea for a research post on the UNMAM Journal. I enjoyed the information and correspondence I found about the first exhibition displayed in the museum and thought it would be a great topic to write about for the upcoming 60th anniversary of UNMAM on October 10, 2023. I continued my research in the UNMAM archives and began searching at the UNM Center for Southwest Research (CSWR) for additional documentation. UNMAM’s first exhibition was Taos and Santa Fe: The Artist’s Environment, 1882 – 1942, and displayed works from the members of the Taos Society of Artists and the Santa Fe Art Colony. Concluding my research on the exhibition, I wrote an article for the UNMAM Journal, titled From the Archives: Taos and Santa Fe: The Artist’s Environment, 1882 – 1942.  I also had the opportunity to research the artist Luis Jiménez and his work within the UNMAM and the UNM collections.  Luis Jiménez: In the UNMAM Collection, discusses Jiménez’s life, exhibitions, artwork, and impact on the Southwest.  

Install photograph of Taos and Santa Fe at the University Art Gallery (now known as the UNM Art Museum.) From the UNMAM Archives, October 10, 1963.

Shortly after From the Archives: Taos and Santa Fe: The Artist’s Environment, 1882 – 1942, was shared on the UNMAM journal, I was invited to share my research at the 2023 New Mexico Association of Museums (NMAM) conference. My experience at the conference discussing my research was beneficial for my academic and professional career as it provided me with exposure to a scholarly setting as a young art historian and museum professional. Other opportunities UNMAM provided me with in the Fall 2023 semester included a field trip to various museums and galleries in Santa Fe, New Mexico such as, Art Vault, The Georgia O’Keefe Museum, and The Vladem Contemporary.  

Throughout my Spring semester, I conducted additional research for the UNMAM Journal and attended additional conferences. The semester kicked off with great news — as I received a new position at UNMAM as a Study Room Assistant with the Curator of Collections and Study Room Initiatives, Dr. Angel Jiang. This position has provided me with invaluable experience in art handling, gaining UNMAM collections knowledge, and interacting with study room visitors.  

Hannah Cerne (LEFT) stands with artist Delilah Montoya (RIGHT) at the UNMAM Student Advisory Council’s UNM ART MUSE/ZINE launch on May 2, 2024. Image courtesy of Hannah Cerne.

I had the opportunity to interview artist Delilah Montoya for the journal post, Sagrado Corazon Sacred Heart: An Interview with Delilah Montoya. Delilah is a Chicana artist residing in Albuquerque, New Mexico and was an absolute delight and inspiration to speak to. Her encouraging spirit, love of life, and awareness of impact introduced me to her divergent path as an artist and educator. I am truly thankful to Delilah and the time she donated to me this last semester.  

I virtually attended the 112th Annual College Art Association (CAA) conference along with other UNMAM Museum Assistants. Attending the conference allowed me to hear about forward thinking artists and art projects amongst the scholarly art community. Angel Jiang also provided me with the opportunity to virtually attend the Association of Print Scholars lecture with Native American artists, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and her son Neal Ambrose Smith. 

Looking forward to the summer I am thrilled to begin a position at the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque, NM, where I will be working on the Getty Paper Project and assisting in the gallery. I will also be starting a new position at UNMAM as a Curatorial Assistant to Angel Jiang, and Curator, Mary Statzer. I will be kicking off my summer with attendance at the 2024 American Alliance of Museums (AAM) conference in Baltimore, MD with UNMAM Associate Director of Operations, Devin Geraci, and fellow graduate student and Museum Assistant, Laura Olson. My attendance at the conference is made possible through aid from the UNM Art Museum and the UNM Museum Studies Department. 

Hannah Cerne (LEFT) works with UNMAM Coordinator of Exhibitions, Steven Hurley (RIGHT). Photograph by Stefan Jennings Batista.

My first academic year at UNM and UNMAM has been overwhelming in the best possible way. The abundance of opportunities I have received from UNMAM has set me on a course for achievement and valuable connections. I am incredibly grateful to each person at UNMAM who has encouraged, supported, guided, and advised me throughout my first academic year at UNM. Thank you to Director, Arif Kahn; Associate Director of Operations, Devin Geraci; Coordinator of Student Engagement & Technology, Joseph McKee; Coordinator of Exhibitions, Steven Hurley; Curator of Collections and Study Room Initiatives, Angel Jiang; Curator of Prints and Photographs, Mary Statzer; Manager of Visitor Experience, Ethan Aronson; and Assistant to the Director, Heather Kline. Your consistent support and assurance have made this year my most blossomed professional year yet.

At UNMAM we love working with students! Are you interested in working with us? Do you need to complete a project or practicum for your degree? If so – please reach out to Associate Director of Operations, Devin Geraci at dgeraci@unm.edu.