translucent-header

Mentored Learning

Mentorship experiences provide in-depth learning in a museum context and, for many students, lead to a life-long professional and personal involvement with museums. The research they contribute, the services and programs they provide, and the inclusion of their vital perspectives contribute substantially to the quality of UMMA’s campus and community service as we mentor the professionals of tomorrow.

In fiscal year 2014, UMMA’s staff provided mentored learning experiences for 59 U-M students.  

Fifteen graduate and eight undergraduate students from diverse schools and disciplines participated in extended mentored learning as fellows, research associates, interns, librarians, program assistants, and art-handlers in the Collections and Exhibitions, Communications, Curatorial, and Education areas, including the second Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow.

Fourteen undergraduate students served on the UMMA Student Programming and Advisory Council.

Twenty-two UMMA student docents learned about museum education through service learning programs in Education.


In an unusual internship, U-M medical student Grace Huang worked with Deputy Director for Education Ruth Slavin, as she offered her insights in order to construct a short Museum-based course for second-year medical students offered by UMMA educators, along with guest U-M physicians.

“During college, I studied art history, but it was an interest that took a backseat once I started medical school. However, as I progressed through medical school, I became more and more interested in how art may be used as a tool to improve observation, interpretation, and communication skills in doctors and future doctors. I plan on going into primary care medicine and hope to stay within academic medicine so that I can continue to teach medical students. I'm grateful for the experience that I had to work with students through my time at UMMA.”

– Grace Huang, U-M Medical Student


As the 2013–14 Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow, Antje Gamble especially relished the opportunity to work with Senior Curator of Western Art Carole McNamara to develop an exhibition titled Mine More Coal: War Effort and Americanism in World War I Posters, which will be on view from May 9 to September 20, 2015.

“As I worked to learn more about these seldom-viewed UMMA works, the most intriguing for me were the posters urging miners to ‘mine more coal.’ After researching the war effort further, the importance of the coal industry and the multi-dimensional issues these works addressed came into clearer view. Both my dissertation project and the Mine More Coal exhibition deal with artwork created during war, and I have discovered that there are some profound similarities in the propaganda models in the USA during WWI and Italy during WWII—encouraging both mobilization and national cohesion.”

– Antje Gamble, Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Fellow

Join the SEC

U-M Students: Become a member of the UMMA Student Engagement Council.


Andrew W. Gurstelle, a doctoral candidate in Anthropology at U-M, drew upon his expertise as an archaeologist of Western Africa’s Iron Age to provide new knowledge about one of UMMA’s most striking African objects, the Nkisi Nkondi.

Andrew also worked with Mellon Academic Coordinator David Choberka to integrate his findings into a film resource for U-M History 202–Doing History, ensuring this research reaches successive generations of students as well as UMMA visitors.

“My research on the (iron) nails of Nkisi Nkondi takes a basic principle of archaeological research—artifact typologies—and applies it to re-date this object as one of the colonial period rather than the pre-colonial past. Working with the objects at UMMA has shown me how valuable existing collections of African art are to historical understanding.”

– Andrew W. Gurstelle, U-M Anthropology Doctoral Candidate


Scholar, teacher, curator, and film star are some of the roles U-M graduate student Kristine Ronan has filled at UMMA over several years. Currently working at the National Museum of the American Indian and writing her dissertation on 19th- and 20th-century American and Native American art, Kristine continues to work for UMMA, researching and developing interpretive and teaching information relating to UMMA’s collection of Native arts with Curator for Museum Teaching and Learning, Pamela Reister.

“UMMA has been outstanding in offering me hands-on, professional museum experience. My UMMA work has proven to be the foundational credential and experience that I have needed for professional museum work—I really cannot say thank you enough!”

– Kristine Ronan, U-M History of Art Doctoral Candidate