Behind the Walls of SDMA

Mackenzie Little, Arts and Entertainment Editor

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   The San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) is a fine arts museum in Balboa Park. It opened in February of 1926 as the Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, later changing its name in 1978 to the San Diego Museum of Art. The San Diego Museum of Art’s mission is to inspire, educate, and cultivate curiosity through great works of art. Nearly half a million people visit the museum each year.

   Cindy Little started working at SDMA in 1998. Little worked in the Registration Department. “I helped pull artwork for exhibitions and scholars.  I examined art to prepare it for exhibit and travel.  I helped install shows.  I travelled  with art to other museums.  I wrote Collection Management Policies. I worked on the Registration Department’s annual budget.  You name it, I did it,” said Little. Before working at SDMA, she worked at Mingei Museum. Little had an internship with their Registration Department while she was attending San Diego State University.  “The Chief Registrar at SDMA told me that  one of their colleagues had just announced that she was pregnant and would be going on maternity leave in the Spring.  They asked if I would I like to fill in for her when she was out.  I said yes.  A week later, they called again and said they’d let go of a contract person that was helping  them digitize the  collection and wondered if I’d like to take over  that job until the employee went on maternity leave.  So, I was contracted, then a temp, then when the employee came back from maternity leave, I was offered a full time position with the department. Which, I happily accepted.” Little originally had never thought about working at SDMA until she met the staff and they approached her for a position.  

   While working at SDMA, Little got to work with art by Degas, Warhol, O’Keefe, and Dali. She worked on a Norman Rockwell exhibit that was put together by the Brooklyn Museum. She even got to work on a Star Wars exhibit.  “It was fun to work up close with pieces that were in the movie.” She was able to travel with SDMA as well she went to British Columbia, New Hampshire, New York, and China. She was able to travel with a Dali painting, crates of Southeast-Asian-Indian artworks, and even took ancient tomb treasures to China. “It was fantastic traveling with the art,” she stated. “When you travel with art, you get to fly first class, or ride in semi trucks,  things I’d never done before.  You find out ahead of time what kind of plane you’re traveling on, to see if the crates will fit, or if you have to take another  kind of  plane.  You have to be there ages before the plane leaves, as you either have to watch the art get loaded on the plane, on the tarmac, or take it with you on the plane if it’s small enough.  I also got to explore places I’d never been, from Hartford, Connecticut to New York City, Shanghai and Wuhan, China.  I had fantastic opportunities with SDMA.” Little sadly left SDMA shortly after her husband passed away.

   Ms. Little enjoys traveling and SDMA gave her the chance to travel with art that she also enjoyed. A few years later, she was contracted by SDMA. She now works at the American Academy of Pediatrics California Chapter 3. Ms. Little still loves going to museums whenever she can.

    

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