Meet the Staff: Debbie Pulley

Debbie Pulley is the Ackland Art Museum’s Security Supervisor.

How long have you been at the Ackland?
I started at the Ackland in August 1990.

What brought you to the Ackland?
I had been working for Northern Telecom Security for about six years, and I wanted to do something different in the security field. I applied for both a detention officer job at the Durham County Sheriff’s Office and a position with UNC Security at the Ackland Art Museum. Both offered me a job, and my husband said I should take the UNC Security position. I’m so happy I did!

What do you do at the Ackland?
As the Security Supervisor, I’m on-call 24 hours. I’m responsible for training the security staff, protecting the Ackland’s collection, and assisting the visitors. I also train the Museum’s work study gallery assistants, make sure operating policies and procedures are implemented and followed by all personnel at all times, and monitor the Museum’s closed-circuit television (CCTV) system.

What is a memorable Ackland experience?
In August of 1990, the Museum staff was moving back into the building following a three-year closure for renovations. On December 2, 1990, I got to see the reopening party for the newly redesigned Ackland Art Museum. Then-director Charles Millard and Chancellor Paul Hardin were on-hand to receive ‘Welcome Back’ posters from children as we opened the doors (see photo). What an evening!

What is your favorite thing about working at the Ackland?
Seeing our growing collection. I also love working with university and K-12 students, as well as meeting visitors from all over the world.

SEE. MORE. ART.: What is your favorite arts experience in the Triangle?
I love DPAC (Durham Performing Arts Center).

Editor’s Note: Debbie Pulley was chosen as the UNC Department of Public Safety’s 2016 Employee of the Year. UNC Police Chief Jeff McCracken presented Pulley with the recognition at the department’s annual awards ceremony Friday, June 17, 2016.  Pulley—who was also recognized for 25 years of service to the agency—was cited for the fresh passion she brings to her job every day as well as for leading by example and her kindness to her team, museum staff, and visitors to the Ackland.

Meet the Staff: Alice Southwick

ALICE SOUTHWICK is the Manager of the Ackland Museum Store.

 

How long have you been at the Ackland?
I came to the Ackland prior to the opening of the Ackland Museum Store in 2010 to help with getting the Store launched. I became the full-time Manager of the Store in March 2011.

What brought you to the Ackland?
I jumped at the chance to work with the Ackland since I’d seen a couple of exhibitions and I loved the people I was meeting. Everyone on staff was so enthusiastic and dedicated. It seemed just the kind of place I would like to work.

What do you do at the Ackland?
I manage the Ackland Museum Store which is a job I love since it involves working directly with lots of people–both within the Museum and University but also the general public. I enjoy meeting people and derive a lot of energy from getting people excited about the Ackland Art Museum and the Store.

What is a memorable Ackland (or Museum Store) experience?
There have been so many, but I distinctly remember coming to the Ackland prior to working here. There was an exhibition on Aldwyth (Aldwyth: work v. / work n.: Collage and Assemblage 1991 – 2008) that I came to see with a couple of friends from Raleigh. I was really knocked out by the exhibition and the Museum. I likened the Museum in my mind to some of the smaller museums I had encountered in Europe–it had an intimacy that I found delightful.

What is your favorite thing about working at the Museum Store?
Definitely the people. I have an amazing and talented group of people who work with me in the Store and I am extremely fond of them. We seem to bond over the experience–even when some of them have moved on to other things, we remain good friends. Our customers are the best, too. They are loyal and wonderful people who enjoy coming to the Museum and to the Store. They are passionate about supporting what the Ackland is trying to do by keeping its exhibitions free, educating people of all ages, and being involved in its community.

SEE. MORE. ART.: What is your favorite arts experience in the Triangle?
I’m a gallery hopper and I love going to galleries for the openings, especially of people I know. I live in Raleigh so First Fridays are a big thing there and lots of fun.

BONUS QUESTION: What has been your favorite exhibition that has been on view at the Museum Store?
Each of our shows in the Store has been pretty unique, but one of the earliest ones we did was really fun. It was an exhibition of Ron Liberti’s posters from the last 20 years. We had this huge wall of Ron’s colorful posters for local bands over the years. Ron went all out and even did one-of-a-kind t-shirts. We had a band and it was so much fun to talk with people who were buying the posters about their time as students at UNC during the late ’80s and ’90s. They are now raising families and engrossed in their own careers so it was a fun “blast from the past” event for them.

Meet the Staff: Scott Hankins

SCOTT HANKINS is the Ackland Art Museum’s registrar.

6846ef81-7b1b-413e-9f58-cfca56fd55cfHow long have you been at the Ackland?
I’ve been at the Ackland for 10 years.

What brought you to the Ackland?
In 2005, Rebecca and I found ourselves tired of New Jersey and began looking at different opportunities. Rebecca took a chance and applied for a development job at UNC. When she got the interview we decided to make a weekend trip to come to North Carolina for the first time and explore. We feel in love with North Carolina and decided this is where we wanted to be. Then when the position of Assistant Registrar opened here, I applied and the rest is history. There were two things that initially attracted me to the Ackland. First, was the planned expansion. At the time I was working at the Newark Museum and they were working on the beginnings of an expansion project. I really wanted to work at a museum doing an expansion and get the experience that comes with it. So seeing the Ackland doing the same thing was attractive. The second thing was that it was part of a University. I was really interested to see how a museum worked within a University structure and how it integrated with the education mission of the University.

What do you do at the Ackland?
I’m the Registrar, I manage the collection.

What is a memorable Ackland experience?
There are so many, how to choose. One of my favorite moments was hanging Jim Hodges, You (the flower curtain in More Love). I really enjoyed installing More Love in general, but there was just something about that moment.

What is your favorite thing about working at the Ackland?
I work with amazing people and great art.

SEE. MORE. ART.: What is your favorite arts experience in the Triangle?
The Georges Rousse installations in Durham. We had just moved here and it was this really cool public art moment. I remember walking around downtown Durham with Rebecca and seeing the different installations. It was very cool.

Meet the Staff: Emily Bowles

EMILY BOWLES is the Ackland Art Museum’s Director of Communications.

 
bowles_roaminggnomeHow long have you been at the Ackland?
My first day working at the Ackland was August 30, 2010, so as of this writing I’ve been here over six years.
 
What brought you to the Ackland?
A job that was the perfect mix of my backgrounds in the arts and in communications. And a freelancing gig that was about to dry up after eight solid years.
 
What do you do at the Ackland?
I make sure that the word gets out about all the amazing exhibitions and programs that we have going on. That means I’m responsible for the website content (text and images), our bi-weekly eNews, media relations, press releases, advertising, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), printed invitations and posters, e-fliers and printed takeaways, flat screen TV slides, etc. It’s a big job because we are a very active museum.
 
What is a memorable Ackland experience of yours?
I have several, and most of them fall under the category of highly anticipated works of art arriving in the building; I call them “Big Truck Days” or “Big Crate Days.” There’s a wonderful, heart-stopping moment when you get to see in person the work of art that you’ve been “seeing” reproduced in small jpgs during months and months of exhibition planning. The hush when the loaned Francis Bacon is finally on the wall. The “oooohs” when a Roy Lichtenstein painting is uncrated. There’s also the thrill of unusual pieces being installed after months of anticipation, like the time an Indian rickshaw was steered into our lobby. During the Ackland’s 2013 exhibition More Love, it was Jim Hodges’ “spider web” piece Hello, Again (1994-2003) being deftly installed in a corner of the ceiling and his huge curtain of flowers, You (1997), being hung.
 
What is your favorite thing about working at the Ackland?
As you can guess from my previous answer, for me it’s the chance to see great works of art up close, in person, and this is always possible working at the Ackland because I can walk downstairs to the galleries at any time. I studied art history both as an undergrad and as a graduate student. I never take for granted the opportunity to look closely at a work of art when it’s right in front of me. It’s the reason why I am devoted to getting the Ackland the attention it deserves: everyone should know about and visit a world-class art museum and see art from all over the world, up close and in person.

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Meet the Staff: Lauren Turner

LAUREN TURNER is Assistant Curator for the Collection.

TurnerHow long have you been at the Ackland?
I started at the Ackland in January 2009 as a Curatorial Assistant.

What brought you to the Ackland?
My long-term goal was to work in a museum, and I was an undergraduate alumna of the Art Department at UNC-Chapel Hill. When the job posted, it seemed like it was a sign from the universe to return to campus. Also, in her annoying habit of inevitably being right, my mother told me that I would be an idiot to not apply.

What do you do at the Ackland?
My current title is “Assistant Curator for the Collection,” but it encompasses more than researching, growing, and exhibiting the almost 18,000 objects of our collection. I also coordinate catalogue publications, act as a project manager (and sometimes curator) for our changing exhibitions, and introduce interns and student assistants to the many different types of tasks in a museum career. Continue reading

Meet the Staff: Allison Portnow Lathrop

headshot1ALLISON PORTNOW LATHROP is the Ackland’s Public Programs Manager.

How long have you been at the Ackland?

I started at the Ackland as a graduate student intern in August 2009, then continued working here while I was finishing my musicology PhD in the Music Department at UNC. A short while later, I was hired full time as the Ackland’s Public Programs Manager.

What brought you to the Ackland?

I was interested in applying for the internship because I thought I’d learn some strategies for teaching music in a more interdisciplinary way. I ended up in a more administrative internship–but immediately fell in love it with it. While most musicology PhDs pursue college-level teaching careers, I knew after just a few weeks at the Ackland that a career in arts administration, specifically, museum administration was a better match for me.
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Meet the Staff: Katie Voss

Katie Voss is the Ackland’s Administrative Assistant to the Director.

How long have you been at the Ackland?

I started working at the Ackland as a temporary employee in January 2013. In October 2013, I officially joined the Museum’s staff as the Administrative Assistant to the Director; combined, I have worked at the Ackland for a little over three years.

What brought you to the Ackland?

After graduating with my undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and moving to North Carolina to be closer to loved ones, I was quickly drawn to UNC-Chapel Hill and the Ackland as I wanted to work in the non-profit sector, and because I believe in the importance of higher education and the arts.

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Meet the Staff: Carolyn Allmendinger

CAllmendingerCAROLYN ALLMENDINGER is the Ackland’s Director of Academic Programs.

How long have you been at the Ackland?

I started working at the Ackland in fall 1999.

What brought you to the Ackland?

I had just finished graduate school in art history and was trying to figure out what kind of career I wanted to pursue (some people do that before they finish school; others change their mind a few times). There was a part-time position available as an editor for the Ackland’s catalogue of European drawings. I got that position and quickly discovered I wanted a career working in an art museum. As the editing work began to wind down, another position opened – teaching university classes from various academic disciplines with art objects in the galleries. Once I started doing that, I was completely hooked. Continue reading

Meet the Staff: Joel VanderKamp

JOEL VANDERKAMP is a preparator at the Ackland Art Museum.

5cde0142-46c2-4a78-92d2-dcb1ef3ca16aHow long have you been at the Ackland?
I began in August of 2013

What brought you to the Ackland?
The Ackland is at the intersection of my community and my work experience. I followed my wife to Chapel Hill and spent the first few years of my relocation commuting to the Weatherspoon Art Museum in Greensboro. I have a fairly broad art handling experience and have found that I really enjoy working with encyclopedic collections. When the opportunity arose to work with the Ackland’s collection and programming I jumped at it.

What do you do at the Ackland?
I am a preparator. That means a lot of different things depending on the museum. The primary role of the preparator is to handle the art, be it for exhibition, storage, shipping, documentation, etc. At the Ackland the preparator also creates/supports the design and construction of the exhibition spaces, display cases, signage and lighting. Because the Ackland has a diverse collection and is relatively small in scale my responsibilities are quite various.

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Meet the Staff: Brian Fletcher

BRIAN FLETCHER is a Security Guard at the Ackland Art Museum.

How long have you been at the Ackland?

Since October 2011.

What brought you to the Ackland?

I had recently come to the university as a part-time contract guard through the Department of Public Safety, looking after various parking decks, dormitories, and other campus buildings-mostly third shift, overnight hours. I was approached by one of my supervisors, Steve Riddle, about some available hours at the Ackland Art Museum. I took him up on the offer, as I have always loved art — my late grandmother was a gifted oil painter, I took several art classes during my time at Campbell University, and I paint acrylics when time allows. The prospect of no longer starting my day at three o’clock in the afternoon or going to bed with the neighborhood rooster crowing didn’t discourage me either. I quickly came to really enjoy the Ackland and the people here. I learned that there was an opening for a full-time security officer, so I applied. I became a full-time guard here in January of 2012.