Why did you choose the University of Virginia?
For my 21st birthday, my mom asked me where I would like to spend my special day. I responded, “Charlottesville, Virginia.” To some, this sounds weird, but as a history major, I am a big fan of American History and the lands of Thomas Jefferson. I wanted to explore Monticello and one of the few architectural World Heritage Sites in America.
I wandered around Monticello, soaking in the rich history. As I strolled down the Lawn, I told my mom that I wanted to go here. Four years later, I attended my first class as an official UVa student. UVa’s Architectural History program is known in the academic world as a very successful program. The department encourages students to not only earn their historic preservation certificate but also take courses in the Art History department. As a person who wants to work in a museum, this is an ideal academic environment.
In addition to having a stellar program, many of the professors that teach courses in the department are interested in American history, Thomas Jefferson, and modern architecture. An advisor at my undergraduate university, Washington State University, told me to choose a school in which I can connect academically with professors. Not only am I surrounded by amazing history, I am instructed by people who encourage deepening my knowledge of subjects that matter most to me.
How did you become interested in Architectural History?
I lived abroad in South Korea for a year teaching English. While I was visiting various UNESCO sites, I was amazed at how well buildings were cared for and the amount of visitors. South Koreans are very proud of their history, and it was a beautiful experience to wander palaces and see only a few foreigners. A majority of the visitors were Koreans. I loved the idea that they wanted to be involved in their history and go to sites of cultural significance. In addition, S. Koreans are truly ahead in historic preservation. Since a majority of their historical structures are built using wood, they require constant maintenance and rebuilding. Though they are not original structures, skilled laborers apply traditional skills while rebuilding or fixing structures and use materials that were used in the past. I admire this and think that Americans would benefit from this form of historic preservation. Although originality is important for historical accuracy, the built environment will not last forever. Without preserving and re-building important structures, we may lose important cultural sites. I came to UVa to learn about historic preservation but also how to engage society in history in a more exciting manner. History is often seen as the most boring subject, but I hope to someday change this!
What do you like best about Charlottesville?
Being from Seattle, WA--I love being outdoors and attending cultural events. I love the local community here, because it is truly involved in its history, culture, and the outdoors. There are always events going on from local farmers markets to outdoor concerts. The vibe of C-ville is truly awesome, and I have met a lot of wonderful people here. I enjoy relaxing with friends at the Corner and walking past a World Heritage Site every day. I discover new historical sites almost every week. Virginia does a great job at marking historical sites, which does not really happen in Washington State. We mark the Oregon Trail and Native American sites, but that is about it! I am excited to be close to such amazing historical sites. But my favorite is being in the land of Thomas Jefferson.
What is the most interesting project you've worked on?
This summer I worked as a summer intern at Sandy Spring Museum. The Public History department at UVa offers amazing internships that revolve around public history. I served as a curator, and developed an exhibit for 18th and 19th century farm implements. The goal of the exhibit is to challenge myths that people have about farming and those who choose this as their profession. General perceptions are presented and then challenged with historical narratives, photographs, and farm implements. Hopefully the exhibit will be a permanent exhibition, and will be installed in the spring. It was an amazing summer and really cemented my passion for museum studies and the importance of historical education.
What have you learned that surprised you?
Before I came to UVa, I thought that modern buildings were extremely ugly and boring. I thought American vernacular architecture and neo-classical buildings were amazing structures. Yet, after a year of being here, I have developed an interest in this style of architecture. The department offers some amazing courses in modernism, and I have enjoyed taking these. I always thought that I would write my thesis on Southern Architecture, but instead I am researching the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculptural Garden, designed by Gordon Bunshaft. A modern building located in a classically dominated landscape! I discovered that modernism is definitely more interesting than I thought, and really represents the amazing technological progression that has been made and continues to occur today!