Get to know the Ackland Art Museum staff! Katie Voss is the receptionist and Administrative Assistant to the Director at the Ackland Art Museum, and is probably the most visible of the behind-the-scenes staff. Voss, a recent college graduate who is fluent in French, enjoys the fast-paced work environment. She spoke with Sarah Headley about her hobbies and her role at the museum.
Where did you go to school and what was your major?
I went to the University of Michigan and doubled in French and Linguistics. I’m definitely a language person. I graduated in four years and studied abroad in Southern France.
Why did you move to the Triangle?
The job market here is better than what it is in Michigan. Michigan has the highest unemployment rate in the country. For recent grads, the unemployment rate is astronomically high. It was a big slap in the face. My boyfriend is also a grad student at Duke and a lot of my friends go to Duke.
So are you a Tar Heel or a Blue Devil?
I’m a Tar Heel. I’m a little bit partial to both of them, but since I am finally working here I am a Tar Heel.
How would you describe yourself?
Perfectionist, hard worker, organizer, planner, leader, goal-oriented. I definitely like to set goals and get them done immediately. I don’t like to-do lists; I like to have “done” lists.
What do you do here?
I am the receptionist and Administrative Assistant to the Director, and I play many different roles here. I do a little bit of everything here which is really interesting — I never know what is going to happen. There are usually five or six things going on at once, but it’s fun and I like it like that. One day I’ll help the director, Emily Kass, book travel, the next I’ll help deliver merchandise to our store, or help set up in the galleries for one of our numerous programs.
What interested you in this job?
I was having some trouble finding a job being new to the area. I found a temp agency and they found a position for me. I didn’t know I was working at the Ackland until my first day. I’ve been here since January and was just hired full time on Monday. I’m very proud of these keys (shows them excitedly.) Having a full-time job, period, is a huge relief.
Can you describe an interesting or memorable experience you’ve had at the Ackland?
The staff tour of the exhibition The Sahmat Collective: Art and Activism in India since 1989. Being from the languages side of academia, I never really spent that much time in the arts. Before the opening of The Sahmat Collective, I had the privilege to go on a staff tour of the exhibition led by our Chief Curator, Peter Nisbet. I obviously have been in museums before, but I’ve never had a tour by the museum’s head curator. That was like the coolest thing ever. I really appreciated that we all came together and took the time to do that as staff. It got us all on the same page. For me that’s important because people ask me about the exhibition a lot.
How do you interact with UNC students who come to the Ackland?
Students will come to me if they can’t find their tour or their class, or if they want to try to schedule a meeting with a staff member. They also come to give me materials to display. I also interact with all of the students who work at the Ackland: work-study students, interns, and graduate students. I direct a lot of questions to other people on phones since I’m almost always the one callers talk to first. But the most popular is helping students when they’re lost – many don’t know that the Museum is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and that they can’t get to the galleries on those days.
What is your favorite thing about working at the Ackland?
Ackland staff members are warm, welcoming, and more than happy to share their expertise with you. There’s a difference between someone who is really smart and someone who is really smart and a good educator. It’s important not only for students, but for all members of the community.
Do you have any hobbies?
I love Renaissance fairs. I also go to a lot of gaming and sci-fi conventions. Basically, I’m a big geek in my spare time.
What is your favorite thing about Chapel Hill?
What I love most about Chapel Hill, it’s resemblance to Ann Arbor, Michigan. I was homesick at first, but I walked down Franklin Street and it made me feel at home.