Emma (’16) always loved art, but she never imagined that her childhood love for photography would some day grow into a passion for the world of art and a position at the iconic Milwaukee Art Museum.
A few months before her graduation from Maranatha Baptist University in 2016, Emma Bagin, then Emma Furnari, began searching for a job in the Milwaukee area. One such position was at the Milwaukee Art Museum. “I originally did not think I would get this job at all,” Emma recalls, but the museum immediately showed interest in Emma’s application.
Several factors prevented her from seriously considering the position, but in June of that same year, Emma contacted the museum to reapply. “They called me, I interviewed, and I basically got the job right away.” Soon, Emma found herself stepping into a world of new experiences.
A Whole New World
Looking back on her first days with the museum, Emma felt a little intimidated. However, she was eager to learn everything she could. That wasn’t too hard considering the museum boasts three and a half levels full of pieces depicting a variety of genres ranging from ancient Egyptian to modern and contemporary. Even the building itself is a masterpiece.
One of Emma’s favorite aspects of the job has been immersing herself in the wealth of information and knowledge found in the museum. “I really appreciate being in the galleries because you get to learn so much just by reading the different write-ups about the pieces.”
Emma also found that the art world is not limited to canvases on walls. It’s really made up of people from all over the world. Because of her position in customer service, Emma engages with the world as individuals walk through the museum’s door.
“There are so many things to learn, and there are so many people that I’ve met,” Emma says. “I love that we get people from all over the world. For example, individuals from Paris, London, and Tokyo may visit all in one day.” The constant flow of people also brings new sets of ideas, and Emma has enjoyed the opportunity to expand her horizons as she is exposed to interesting ways of thinking.
“To be honest, I didn’t really appreciate a lot of the contemporary and modern pieces at first. But by working here and learning the stories behind those pieces, as well as learning about the artists and why they did what they did, I don’t necessarily like the pieces any more than I did, but I appreciate them more.”
A Whole New Perspective
As Emma interacts with people from places far and wide, she says her education at MBU, especially from the English department, definitely changes the way she approaches her job.
“I really appreciate the English department at Maranatha and the way the professors see the world and the way they bring you through the world’s literature. They were very influential in my critical thinking.”
Emma also says that her personal relationship with God is far more valuable than the rarest piece of art.
“Because I am a Christian,” Emma says, “I look at people with compassion, and I have patience with them. I let them know I’m there, I’m listening, and I care. I don’t necessarily have to tell them ‘I’m a Christian and I go to church every Sunday,’ but whether it is the way I speak, the way I act, what I do, or what I don’t do, there are little things that people notice whether they say so or not.”
Though Emma will be moving on from her job in Milwaukee in the near future, she hopes to continue pursuing her passion in the art industry as well as building her own photography business.
No matter what the future holds, Emma continues to cling to God’s guidance, always remembering one of her favorite verses: “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (I Thessalonians 5:24).