While growing up in New Jersey, Carmen Hermo, ’07, often visited museums in New York City to admire the art. These days, priceless paintings, drawings, sculpture, and more are all part of a day’s work as a curatorial assistant for collections at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
Hermo, who double-majored in art history and English, has been working at the Guggenheim for the past two years. She fields public inquiries about the collection and presents research to scholars looking for information about the Guggenheim’s artworks or exhibitions. She also manages the online presence of the Guggenheim’s constantly expanding collection by adding photos, text, and artist biographies, all with an eye toward shining a public light on recent acquisitions. On some occasions, Hermo even makes international “courier trips” to escort a work of art on loan to another museum back to the Guggenheim.
Her desire to share new works and demystify the acquisitions process for the general public was the inspiration behind Hermo’s first professional co-curated exhibition, which opened in one of the museum’s side galleries in November 2012. Hermo and her co-curator selected art that reflected different mediums including sculpture, installations, and abstract pieces— aiming to show the variety present in the contemporary art world.
“We pulled from the past five years of artwork the Guggenheim has acquired, and focused the exhibit on showing the public a peek into the art world, ” she says.
Hermo came to the University of Richmond with a love of writing and a plan to major in English, and was encouraged by the art history faculty to add a second major after showing promise in an introductory course she took her first year. Her passion for art history continued to grow and eventually she received the Harnett Summer Research Fellowship from University Museums. Hermo worked with University Museums staff on a major anniversary exhibition that included paintings by Francisco de Goya, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol, as well as a smaller exhibition showcasing works on paper.
She also received two Quest scholarships, one that took her to Mumbai, India, to study water architecture, and a second that funded her thesis research in Madrid, Spain, on 19th-century Spanish art.
“Once I graduated, I had all these experiences on my résumé that got me noticed every time I did an interview,” she says. “When I tell people about what I did, and that the University funded it, they’re amazed.”
Hermo began her professional career with an internship at the Museo del Barrio, writing educational materials and interviewing artists to help prepare for the museum’s contemporary art biennial. That experience, combined with her work with the University of Richmond Museums, led to a prestigious yearlong fellowship in the drawings department of the Museum of Modern Art.
She considers that experience her introduction to the art world, and claims it was where she began to love working in collections. “I believe in the maintenance and promulgation of not only the masterpieces that art institutions are known for, but also looking deeper into their holdings to find the hidden gems,” she says. “I feel fortunate that I’m able to live and work in New York and have the opportunity to do something I love.”
Photo: Carmen Hermo leads a curator's tour of installation view: "Now's the Time: Recent Acquisitions," at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, November 3, 2012 - January 2. 2013. Photo: David Heald