de Saisset Museum

South Bay's free museum of art and history

Jean MacDougall, '94

Collections Manager

Jean MacDougall at work

Katie Cronin: Where did you go to college and what did you study?

Jean MacDougall: I attended SCU and studied Art History and English, and then went to the University of Chicago for my MA in Art History.

KC: How did you begin your career in the arts? Did you originally start your career in a different field?

JM: I volunteered at the Triton Museum in Santa Clara on weekends as an art guard while I was a student at SCU. Also, I volunteered to work at the de Saisset and worked under the Preparator at the time. I didn't know there were paid student positions at the de Saisset, but after a quarter of working with the Preparator, I was put on the payroll. I also worked under the de Saisset's Registrar/Public Relations Officer, assisting with PR.

KC: Who or what inspired you to work in a museum?

JM: I took an Art History class in high school through Mission College, which was held at the Triton, and I became interested in the field of Art History. It was something different than what my peers were doing, and it was unlike anything else I was studying in school.

KC: What are your responsibilities as the Collections Manager?

JM: As Collections Manager, I am responsible for the legal and physical status of all works in the building. I update records, check the physical condition of works when they come into the Museum, while they are at the Museum, and when they leave the Museum if they are part of a traveling exhibition.When the Curator schedules temporary exhibitions, I make the arrangements for the works to be brought here. A primary aspect of my job is managing the 11,000 works of art in the permanent collection. The rule for storing an object is to keep it safe and to be able to find it easily again. A fun side of my job is providing access to the collection for faculty members and students at the University.

KC: What are the most rewarding aspects of your job?

JM: Providing access to the collection is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a Collections Manager. It is impossible to show all 11,000 works of art in the galleries, so researchers make appointments to view specific pieces. The individuals that request to see works are usually very enthusiastic; it's a pleasure to see their reactions to the work.

KC: What advice would you give someone thinking about pursuing a museum career?

JM: For students, many positions are volunteer positions. By volunteering, you will get the experience you need to decide if museum work is the right career for you.

KC: What hobbies do you do outside or work?

JM: I have a nine-year-old daughter with whom I share my hobbies: reading, knitting, and hockey. Go Sharks!


Meet the Other Staff

Rebecca Schapp

Lindsey Kouvaris

Curator of Exhibits & Collections


Chris Sicat

Exhibition Project Coordinator