Jordan Hanas was not expecting to fall in love with art history when she started her post-secondary education at the University of Lethbridge, but she knows for certain she’s on the right path, especially as she works to gain critical work experience skills in her field.

A fifth-year student in the Art History/Museum Studies program, Jordan came to Lethbridge to follow in her sister’s footsteps. Born and raised in Whitecourt, Alberta, Jordan says the prairies were a significant change from the boreal forests of northern Alberta, adding that Lethbridge is an incredibly special place to her.

Jordan started at ULethbridge as a general Art major with the goal of doing a combined degree with education. However, when she started taking courses related to art history and museum studies, she knew that was the path for her.

“I took Education 2500, which is an incredible program, but it helped me realize that I don't know if that's what I want as a career. I kind of reconsidered everything and I was like, well, if I'm not going to be a teacher, what am I loving? And it was art history and museum studies,” Jordan says.

“I feel like I could research and write papers forever. I love it so much. I went and talked to an academic advisor and then settled on that, and I’ve just been loving it since.”

The Art History/Museum Studies degree is an innovative program that combines critical studies in art theory and history while also allowing students to develop crucial skills in museum and gallery operations. Through her time in the program, Jordan has taken courses ranging from an introduction to art history to a topics course on the art history of the Italian Renaissance.

Students are required to participate in a museum studies internship as part of the program, providing them with an in-depth sense of the range of work and career possibilities in the museum field, and the opportunity to develop experience beyond the art gallery and classroom.

Jordan was able to stay on campus with an internship this semester through the ULethbridge Art Gallery and has been working on various tasks related to collections care and maintenance. She says one of her biggest goals for the internship was to develop skills related to writing for public spaces and audiences.

“I'm very comfortable writing my papers for my courses, but it's very niche in terms of the language and the research. It's been really fun and challenging to write in a way that more people understand, than just for a really narrow target audience. I’m trying to widen my scope and write in a fun way that is engaging for other people.”

“Another one of my biggest goals for the internship was to overall just be able to feel more comfortable around these very special objects. Even the thought of first going in at the Gallery, I was so scared to even be around the items, I was like, I can't even breathe in that direction. It was a huge goal to be able to feel comfortable there and feel like I belong there. I think that's come a long way, too,” Jordan adds.

Through her internship, Jordan has learned about practices to make museums more climate-friendly, how to organize and catalogue art prints and paintings and how to properly tag art works. She says one of her favourite projects during her internship was learning how to carefully add labels to art on fabrics. This task required a precise attention to detail and a delicate execution to ensure the tags were applied in the least invasive way.

“I do lots of little tasks to maintain the health of the overall collection, and it’s just so fun doing these little tasks. They all seem so little, but once you look at it, there's all these little tasks that go into making sure everything is running smoothly. It’s been really cool to see.”

Jordan says she has a long-term vision for herself when she finishes her studies, as she says she would love to work at an artist collective centre.

“I would love to support other artists’ shows and help put them on and help with putting on projects and doing community things and stuff. I think would be super fun. I don't quite know what the plan is, I'd love to work in researching, or working with a gallery and being around art. Really anything to kind of stay connected to art.”

Jordan has a deep love and appreciation for art, particularly when it comes to creating it. She says she loves drawing, writing and reading, and gets her inspiration from nature and the outdoors.

“Anytime I have a little bit of free time, I'll sit down, write, and see what's going on in the day. What's the sky like, can I write about that? Now that it's warm out I've been really liking going outside. I think there's so much to be inspired by outside, I try to go out as much as I can.”