Interview with Jaime DeSimone
My name is Katie Bull and I am a senior sociology major at Bates. I am the education intern at the Bates Museum of Art and have learned so much from working at the museum over the past few semesters! One project I have been working on this semester is adding to the Bates Museum Alumni Spotlight Series. The series strives to interview Bates alumni who were previously interns at the Bates Museum of Art. We are interested to learn about the career paths of alumni, to provide advice for current Bates Museum Interns, and to connect alumni and current students.
In October, I drove with Abby Abbott, the museum’s Education Fellow, to the Portland Museum of Art (PMA) to interview Bates alumna, Jaime DeSimone ‘01. She is now the Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the PMA. We sat down with Jaime and asked her questions about her internship at the Bates Museum of Art and her career path since graduating from Bates. Jaime started interning at the Bates Museum of Art during the spring of her senior year and she had the opportunity to curate a show of small prints to be a brief history of printmaking, which inspired her love for curation. She learned how to handle the museum’s collections and to be around art all the time. She left Bates excited about a potential career in museums but right after graduating she did not go straight into working at a museum. As an economics minor, she was interested to study art history from an economic perspective. She
remembers having conversations with Bates professors, Becky Corrie and Ned Harwood, very fondly. She quickly realized that she missed art history after working elsewhere for a short period, and then she applied to graduate school to achieve her master’s degree. She enjoys working with artists and she interned at the Smithsonian American Art museum, where she interned under a print curator and worked with contemporary pieces. She held several jobs at smaller museums where she gained essential professional skills. She moved into exhibitions work and was able to get experience in curation. She worked as a curator at an academic art museum before taking her new position at the PMA. She did six exhibitions a year where she was able to work with lots of artists. Jaime has plans to come out to Bates to connect with students. She did not intend to be a curator nor even an art history major. A very influential time for her was her study abroad semester in Rome, where she took art history courses which changed her view of going to museums to see art. She does everything at the PMA ranging
from working with trustees to cataloging artworks, and she appreciates the spontaneity of her job because “no two days are the same,” says DeSimone. She also visits Bowdoin and Colby to visit and connect with students who are interested in the museum field. The best advice she
ever got was that “you are working for them just as much as they are working for you.”
There were points when she questioned her career path, but her passion for her work kept her wanting to work in the museum field. DeSimone emphasized how important writing is in her work. She said that a challenge she had to overcome was to find her voice and learn
how to express it in her writing. She was interested and very passionate about her coursework and believes the work she does has a socio-cultural effect. Balance between disciplines and areas of focus is a regular part of her job as a curator. At the PMA there is a real commitment to telling the story of American Art. She enjoys traveling a lot for work, for example, she recently attended a conference in Iceland. She also wants people to feel welcome at the PMA and says she is always willing to talk with anyone. She recommends that current interns talk with alumni and others in the museum field.
Our meeting with Jaime was very informative and we are appreciative of all that she shared with us. I learned a lot from Jaime about the museum field and I am happy that I got to make a connection with her through my internship at the museum. I look forward to connecting with other Bates alumni who have worked at the Bates Art Museum.