The Sandspur profiles museum curator Amy Galpin, who discusses her passion for art and lively museum-goers.
Finding Amy Galpin’s office is quite the journey. Tucked away in a corner of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum’s gift shop is a discreet doorway leading to a narrow spiral staircase. The stairs open up to a small office full of character: a space that one would expect of an art museum curator.
Galpin is an extremely eloquent, put-together lady. Her red hair falls slightly below her shoulders, and she is dressed in a purple and black patterned dress, black cardigan, and silver necklace adorned with rhinestones and pearls. Given her professional appearance, the sight of her office may surprise many. She apologizes for the disorganization of her small office, with books upon books about art from any given time period and artistic movement filling shelves. Whatever does not fit is strewn across her desk. “Organized chaos,” she declared.
Galpin has been the curator of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum (CFAM) since October 2013. Her interest in art stems from her childhood, when the New-Jersey-born curator dreamed of venturing to New York City to see a Georgia O’Keefe retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. With a BA in film, an MA in Latin American studies, and a PhD in art history, it was somewhat of a process before she realized that art could become a central part of her career.
“When I was getting my master’s in Latin American studies, my first class was a course on Mexican modernism, and I just found myself completely enthralled in the art and the history and the political situations of the time in Mexico City,” she said. “I would stay up all night reading the books for this class, and I realized that I was really interested in art, and I wanted to pursue a career in the arts.” After interning at a museum near where she was studying in San Diego, the experience forever changed her path.
A typical day for Galpin involves lots of emails, voicemails, and meetings, but she always tries to walk through the galleries at some point everyday, sometimes even multiple times a day.