Meet the Board: Kate Blake
Kate Blake, Manager of Curriculum, Toledo Museum of Art
Tell us a little about where you work and what you do there.
The purpose of the Toledo Museum of Art, where I work, is Art Education, and so it’s probably not surprising that as the Manager of Curriculum they keep me pretty busy. I oversee the school tour program which serves over 22,000 students annually and manage the Museum’s partnerships with area schools and universities. In addition to working with our docents and staff to deliver programs for K-16 students, I design curriculum and workshops for our teacher and executive professional development programs.
What is your earliest museum memory?
When I was five years old I won a contest to decorate a paper bag. The prize was a free art class. That was it, I was hooked! I was a regular at TMA art classes for the next ten years. I tried everything - painting, ceramics, metals. But I especially loved drawing in the Cloister gallery. The Cloister always felt like a really magical place to me. It still does.
What led you to go into the museum field?
I have always loved museums. I love the way that they are like giant treasure boxes that you can walk into and explore. And I really get behind the way that museums provide this open and enticing entry to learning. Plus, as a museum employee any time you get stuck on a problem or need a break, you can wander the galleries. Talk about stress relief!
What is your workspace like?
Well, to be honest, it’s not as tidy as I would like it to be. As a museum educator it is covered with artifacts from my various projects: 3D models made by high school students, origami from a visiting artist, old game pieces from gallery interactives. It’s a bit of a time capsule of my history at the Museum.
What item in your office can you not live without?
My colleagues. We work in an open office, and I am so lucky here to work with a really creative and encouraging team. I wouldn’t be nearly as good at my job without their feedback and support.
Describe your favorite work memory. What was your best day like?
There have been lot of good memories, but the summer block parties stand out. For the party, we shut down the street in front of the Museum and bring in food trucks and performers. There are activities and games and musicians and a scavenger hunt that spreads across the campus. Last year was our biggest party yet, the weather was perfect, it seemed like the whole city came to the museum that night. I remember standing at the top of the steps leading up to the museum at the height of the party and looking out on the crowd. The sun was setting, people dancing around the Calder sculpture. That was a really great day.
What does your dream museum look like?
I’m not sure there is one dream museum. I guess I’d say a museum where things are always changing, where there is always something new and surprising. People would be encouraged to be comfortable. There would be lots of places to sit, games to play and books to peruse, and a strict no “sushhhhing” policy. (I’m comfortable with a little noise in the gallery.)
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Don’t worry about problems you don’t have yet (and maybe also – keep it simple).
What are you currently reading?
I always read two books at once one fiction and one nonfiction. Fiction:” Little Fires Everywhere,” Celeste Ng, Non-fiction: “Visual Intelligence,” Amy Herman.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I am honored to be able to give back to the museum community by serving on OMA’s board. I think we are so fortunate in Ohio to have so many museums doing such great work!