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Whitworth Alumna Accepted into Competitive Master's Program in Museology

Laura Cotton, class of '97, says internships guided by Whitworth Art Department Chair Barbara Filo and Associate Professor Gordon Wilson played a prominent role in her recent acceptance to the University of Washington's master's program in museology.

Cotton's graduate studies in museology will prepare her for a career in curation and management of museum collections or as a professor of art in higher education. The program features coursework in the theoretical and practical aspects of museum operations as well as intensive internships at Seattle-area museums.

"I'm really excited; the program only admits ten applicants each year," Cotton says.

As a studio art and arts administration major at Whitworth, Cotton interned as an assistant to the head curator at the Cheney Cowles Museum (now the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture) in Spokane. The experience fueled Cotton's love of art and helped her realize that she wanted to work in an art-centered environment.

"The best way to figure out what you want to do for a career is through an internship," Cotton says.

After graduating from Whitworth, Cotton assisted the head curator of the Tacoma Art Museum and worked in galleries in the Seattle area, including a stint as a volunteer at the Seattle Art Museum.

"Volunteering doesn't feel like work," Cotton says. "I don't get paid as a volunteer, but I love it anyway."

Cotton's work in art museums in the Pacific Northwest led her to pursue graduate studies in museology.

"The next step was to get my master's degree; you need one for even entry-level positions in museums," says Cotton, who will study fund-raising, grant-writing, museum ethics, and art education in the program's curatorial track.

Cotton will begin the two-year, full-time program in September and expects her graduate studies to be similar to an intense internship.

"The program will answer a lot of questions to help me determine my career path," Cotton says.

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