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Meet Founder of Meet Me At The Museum, Ally Pass!

School & class: 

Barnard 2017


Art History


Bronxville, New York

1. Tell me a little about yourself. What are you favorite activities and interests?

Well in addition to being an art history major, I am also Pre-Med so a lot of my interests revolve around the medical world- specifically issues related to women’s health.  Currently, I am training (and really excited!) to become an ER advocate at Bellevue, which is a position that will entail being a responder to domestic violence or sexual assault cases coming through the emergency department.  I also work with a research team at Columbia’s medical center in the radiology department to investigate breast MRI techniques and outcomes for the detection of cancer.  On campus, I am a member of Delta Gamma, which I could not love more.  

2. In 2015, you founded Meet Me At the Museum. Would you mind telling me a little more about this? 

Meet Me at the Museum is an initiative that seeks to make elementary arts education as meaningful as possible by creating curriculum specific tours for each class.  For example, we have a fifth grade class who learned about the impact of sports in society, so we create a tour throughout the Met that includes pieces like a Roman chariot and sculptures of Mesoamerican ball players.  By associating concepts the students are familiar with to arts in the museum, we are making the often intimidating and seemingly dull art museum as place of engagement and interest.  To date we have led just over 530 students and with out 14 new student tour guides this semester (yay!), we double that number by Christmas.

3. How and why did you start MMatM? 

So it started off super casually – a family friend who is a NYC public school teacher asked if I would accompany her fifth grade class’s trip the Met.  She knew I was an art history major and explained that every year they go to the Met and every year it’s a day of awkwardness and frustration as they try to navigate the museum without any specific concepts in mind or working knowledge of art history.  I jumped at the opportunity (loving both the Met and opportunities to hang out with children) and ending up leading a tour that had to do with their lesson in human rights.  Long story short, the teacher reported back to her colleagues that the kids had a great experience so that fall I led the rest of the five classes in that schools fifth grade.  In the spring, the idea of expanding it into a club formed as more classes than one person could handle wanted to partner up.  I thought this could be a rewarding opportunity for my peers who just really love art and believe its power/place in a public school’s education.

4. What has been your favorite part about MMatM? 

No question, the kids we get to lead.  Every single tour I am struck by their enthusiasm, insight, and willingness to engage.  There is absolutely nothing better than when a kid walks into the museum feeling timid or a little confused about how this fits into their life, comes up to me and says (more like yells-they are so excited!) that they want to come back “tomorrow with their parents!”

5. How can people get involved in MMatM?  

At the beginning of each semester, we have an application to become a tour guide. Our senior tour guides and curricula makers are just getting started training our group for this fall’s tours. Applications will go out again in the spring.  

6. What is your favorite museum in New York City? 

Technically out of the city (but still super close)-the Cloisters

7. Who are your favorite artists? 

I’m currently obsessed with Hannah Wilke (the post-modern feminist photographer who I am writing my thesis on), Kehinde Wiley, and Marcel Duchamp.

8. Congrats on being a senior! Do you have any plans for MMatM after you graduate? 

Thanks! Yes, this semester is all about getting Columbia recognition for MMatM, so that it can have all the bells and whistles of a real “club.”  After I leave, the club will continue in the capable hands of our younger members.  I’m sure I’ll be like an over protective mother and constantly be checking in with the new president/stalk the instagram and website relentlessly

9. Looking back on your experiences, what advice would you give to your freshman self? 

I would say to stop taking myself so seriously.  Your general chemistry exam is not a matter of life and death so chill out- you’d be surprised how that actually makes things better.

10. In your opinion, what is one thing all freshmen should do to get a full New York City/ Columbia experience? 

Go to orgo night and midnight breakfast!!! Re: freshman year self not taking everything so seriously-those traditions are precious and so fun and you will do fine on your final. Actually better having laughed at the jokes and filled your belly with tater tots!

11. What is one thing you hope to do before you graduate? 

Reopen Cannons

12. What has been your favorite memory at Barnard so far? 

My bid night for Delta Gamma, my freshman year.  It was so exciting-dancing and being all loud (I’m sure obnoxious to many) on the steps of Low in the snow.  It sounds so dramatic, but as a SWUG I’m filled with nostalgia thinking about how at that moment I had a whole three and a half more years of fun like that.

13. Who is your biggest role model? 

It sounds so cliché by definitely my mother. She manages to be a bad ass surgeon, while maintaining a killer wardrobe and curly hair, yet she still makes time for brunch with me.

14. If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be and why? 

One of my best friends in the world is currently completing a Fulbright in Florence.  I would meet her for lunch because I know we would have the absolute yummiest, authentic, Italian food and after, she would give me an expert level tour of Florence’s art museums.

15. What is your guilty pleasure? 

Trashy reality TV and easy crossword puzzles.

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Catherine Atherton

Columbia Barnard

Student at Barnard College, Columbia University
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