Summer Centered: Emily Dombrovskaya ’19 Returns to Her Roots at the Museum of Russian Art
The history of art major and museum studies minor is getting “real” experience with Soviet realist collections in Minneapolis this summer.
Returning to her roots and venturing to new places, Emily Dombrovskaya ’19 is working as a curatorial intern at the Museum of Russian Art (TMORA) in Minneapolis, Minn., this summer. In her work at the museum, the history of art major and museum studies minor from Moscow is getting to combine her academic interests with her personal knowledge of Russian language and culture thanks to funding from the John B. Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities (HCAH).
Once a funeral home, and later a church, TMORA now houses the world’s largest collection of Soviet realist art, financed by art dealer and collector Ray Johnson. Among the pieces of TMORA’s collection are the jewels of the Romanov Dynasty and Soviet non-conformist art.
As a result of TMORA’s small size, Dombrovskaya gets to help with the physical installation of exhibits, such as the recently opened Gifts and Prayers: The Romanovs and Their Subjects, process items for new collections, dismantle and package loaned art, act as docent and tour-guide, and staff the front desk.
A previous summer internship with Philadelphia-based arts organization FringeArts, also funded by HCAH, was excellent preparation for Dombrovskaya’s current position and helped her have a smooth transition at TMORA.
“I had an understanding of what roles need to be filled at a cultural non-profit,” she says.
But sometimes it is her own life experience that serves her best at the museum whose subject is so close to her home.
“Some days a museum visitor will ask me a question about the exhibit, and I'll find myself giving answers based on knowledge I totally didn’t remember having,” Dombrovskaya says.
She first heard about the museum during student presentations in her “Introduction to Museum Studies” class. And now she has moved into a house in Saint Paul that she shares with three other college students and is getting to spend her days surrounded by inspiring art and people. Even simple tasks, such as retrieving books from her the office of her boss, Museum Curator Maria Zavialova, can make the art-lover starstruck.
“She mentioned that these books comprised the library of Oleg Vassilev, an incredibly famous Soviet non-conformist artist!" said Dombrovskaya. "She shrugged and said, ‘He was a friend.’”
-Andrew Nguyen '19
“Summer Centered” is a series exploring our students’ Center-funded summer work.