The Norman Transcript

N-town Q/A

January 10, 2014

Q&A: Emily Ballew Neff comes to OU inspired



Q: When you switched to art history what was your plan for the future?

A: My parents asked that very same question. [laughing] They were a little concerned. What do art historians do? I’m not sure what I was envisioning. My freshmen year, actually, I remember it suddenly clicked for me that people did this for a living so I was fairly — I would say 99 percent certain — that a life in the museum was going to be the life for me. And I feel extraordinarily privileged to have that life and to have that life in incredible institutions.

Q: What’s a day in the life like for you?

A: Every day is different. You often hear people say, “I love my job because every day is different,” and I’d say that’s true in our field. A day in the life is crazy. You work for a nonprofit. You feel passionate about what you do and you never have enough time so a day would be anything from let’s say I’ll be in New York next week for a number of museum exhibitions I will be seeing — and believe it or not — that’s work but obviously a pleasure. There will be a number of dealers I’ll be meeting for acquisitions or possible acquisitions. You’ll be meeting with trustees and hoping they’ll agree with you and that whatever it is that you’re presenting will make sense to them. You might be going to a fundraiser luncheon to try and help to raise funds to try and buy a work of art or launch an educational initiative. We try not to have too many meetings but you have to have some meetings. The best part of the day is when you’re actually with the art.

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