September 2021, Phillip Brown

September Member of the Month, Phillip Brown, standing in front of the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art at Utah State University where he is the PR/Marketing Coordinator & Assistant to the Director

Phillip Brown is the PR/Marketing Coordinator & Assistant to the Director for the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art at Utah State University. He was one of AAMG’s tech support volunteers helping to make #AAMG2021 a success this past June. Thank you, Phillip, for your membership, sharing your time with us, and all your volunteer efforts!

What’s one thing – either industry/work related or not – you learned in the past month?

I watched This is a Robbery on Netflix, and I learned all about the art theft at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990 in Boston, which I had somehow never heard about before. Aside from the specific details of the mystery still unsolved, I was fascinated—as I always am—by the way value is ascribed to art, not only in terms of money but also meaning. 

If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be?

Ok this might sound strange, but I think it would be interesting to trade places with my husband. To truly know how it feels to be him and have one of his days would give me a lot of helpful empathy and insight into his experience both as a therapist and as a person of color. On a lighter note, he gets very excited about things—and I think it would be fun to reach that level of joy! 

Installation image of works on display inside the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum

Coffee or tea?

Tea, for sure! I really enjoy tea and have been learning more about it as I add to my growing loose-leaf tea collection.

Book/Author suggestion?

I really enjoyed the podcast “The Anthropocene Reviewed” by author John Green, and his essays from the show were recently published as a book with the same title. Thought-provoking, educational (so many fascinating facts!), and often very moving—would give it 5 stars.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

At one point, I wanted to be an artist. At another, a marine biologist. (Really, I’m still figuring out what I’d like to be when I grow up…)

What do you enjoy most about being a part of an academic museum?

Some museums or galleries can feel a little elitist—especially in the world of modern and contemporary art like we have here at NEHMA—and what I love about academic museums is how they, instead, have a strong desire to educate and connect with everyday people from the community. It brings the art world a little more in reach. I handle our communications, and I think it’s a fun challenge to help people feel excited about contemporary art. 

What are your hopes for our industry?

I hope we can keep bringing awareness to important contexts and biases in our collections, that our academic museums can be examples of critical thinking, nuance, and transparency. I see the important work taking place at so many institutions as they grapple with their respective histories and look forward to what their futures might be. I think academic museums are uniquely positioned as places where visitors can look, learn, and engage with new ways of thinking. With that comes a responsibility in how we curate and present material, and I hope that our industry will continue to rise to the challenge.

Headshot of Phillip Brown