Interview by Elisabeth Wilson
Name: Amee Spondike
Title: Associate Director of Development, Individual and Corporate Giving
Can you please briefly describe your job here at the Museum?
I collaborate with the museum staff and various university departments to facilitate individual and corporate giving, which supports exhibitions, programs and the endowment. Essentially, we do a lot of interpersonal communication in development, mixed with some strategic social engineering.
How long have you been employed at UMMA?
I started working at UMMA four years ago, just before we re-opened after the addition and building renovation.
What do you enjoy most about working at UMMA?
I really enjoy working with a variety of people. I love hearing about donor’s connections to the museum and art, as well as working with people throughout the university. I especially enjoying visiting people in their homes and seeing how they live with their art.
How did you get into museum development?
Like most development professionals, it is not a career that I trained for or even expected to find myself in. I went to art school in NY and studied photography. During and after graduate school I worked for a runway photographer and from there was swept up into the world of fashion. I worked for several Italian designers, and really enjoyed it, but found that it lacked substance. During that time I was also volunteering for my local community garden in Brooklyn and started to volunteer for the Trust for Public Land to help write grants for other local gardens while I went back to school to study landscape design and architecture. Writing those grants, but mostly talking to the gardeners, proved to be really enjoyable and meaningful. It all came together after that. I was able to use my skills to support the art I love.
What advice would you give to students who want to pursue a career in museum development?
Seek out internships and pursue other opportunities in which they can enhance their communication, project management, and networking skills.
Do you have a favorite work of art in the museum?
The Helen Frankenthaler painting that hangs in UMMA’s Vertical Gallery. I love the physical scale and fluidity of her work, how it feminizes abstract expressionism.
What’s coming up at UMMA that you’re especially excited about?
There will be some big changes to a few of our gallery spaces soon that will enhance the way we look at our collection. I also love parties, so I’m looking forward to the next UMMA After Hours, coming up on March 14.
If you weren’t working here at the UMMA, what would you be doing instead?
I’d be a boutique florist with loads of free time to do Pilates and visit art museums.
What is something surprising about you that most people might not know?
Most people do not know that I was born in Iceland.
Fun! Thanks for the interview Amee!!
Behind the Scenes at UMMA is a monthly series of interviews conducted by members of UMMA’s Student Programming and Advisory Council (SPAC) with UMMA staff members. The goal of these interviews is to provide a “Behind the Scenes” look at who works at UMMA and what they do. Stay tuned for the next installment of this series next month!