Childhood museum trips inspire career

Olivia Coghe working at the Erie Art Museum

Olivia Coghe working at the Erie Art Museum

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Museums feel like home to Olivia Coghe. The Pittsburgh native recalls a youth spent exploring the museums of her hometown, including the Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Natural History Museum, Carnegie Science Center, and The Andy Warhol Museum.

“We had a family membership to the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, so we spent a lot of time at all of them,” Coghe said.

There she found inspiration not only for her own artwork, but for what she would like to be her life’s work.

“I hope to work in the marketing department of a museum after I graduate,” said Coghe, who is majoring in both arts administration and digital media, arts, and technology (DIGIT) and minoring in marketing. “I’d like to help with community outreach, education, and social-media marketing.”

She has already gained valuable, hands-on experience in all of these areas thanks to a spring internship at the Erie Art Museum. While there, Coghe helped inventory the museum’s 8,000-plus-piece collection, created a family guide for visitors, and assisted with outreach programs. She even had the opportunity to help construct exhibitions, including a Kids as Curators display.

“At the Erie Art Museum, I had the chance to do a little bit of everything,” she said. “It really helped solidify my career choice and the specific areas with which I wanted to be involved.”

While the internship experience helped Coghe narrow her career focus, her classes at Penn State Behrend gave her a wide skill set.

She is in the data visualization and digital humanities path of the DIGIT major, which involves the archiving and digital preservation of all types of art, including literature. She said it has enhanced her technological skills, including programming.

“I like coding much more than I thought I would,” she said.

When she’s not working, Coghe remains immersed in the world of art. She is a painter and a photographer, but enjoys all creative outlets.

“Recently, my high school art teacher taught me how to throw pottery, so I kind of want to get into that,” she said.

She will have the chance to do that this summer when she returns home to do an internship at the Carnegie Science Center.

“I’ll be working with the Art of The Brick exhibit,” she said. “It’s a global touring exhibition that focuses on the use of LEGO bricks as an art medium. I’m excited about it; I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”