Meeting Holly Shen

I had the privilege of meeting Holly Shen. Holly Shen is the Deputy Director of the San Jose Museum of Art, where she oversees community outreach and digital engagement.

I enjoyed learning about Holly’s experience as an undergrad and how she figured out her path to being apart of museum management. As an undergrad, she interned at the Smithsonian, and she enjoyed the hands on work inside of a museum and enjoyed being involved with artists. Holly learned how to put together public programs. But through being an intern at the Smithsonian, Holly realized that she did not want to be a curator, and although she double majored in art and art history she decided on getting her masters in Art History. During her time in grad school, Holly was able to work at Artsy as a consultant where she oversaw public programs.

Throughout her time as Deputy Director, Holly talked about her latest achievement of developing 50× where people who are interested in artists at the museum can learn about the background of the artist and information about their studio practice. Holly also expressed how there would be more programs that integrate art(plus), where museum-goers can have the opportunity of learning science and history through art.

Holly told us about how successful SJM SUMMERCAMP 2020. Though the pandemic eliminated the physical aspect, the museum was able to have featured star artists each week through zoom, where students were able to learn and meet new artists. This allowed the museum to afford artists that they normally wouldn’t have, and grew a desire for people to be apart of the summer program.

I loved how honest Holly was, and the advice that she gave my peers and I. She was to afraid to express her opinion and be kind at the same time. My favorite word of advice was her saying “Now is the time for you to find what interests you and what you’re good at” and it’s true. I cannot find myself trying to enjoy something that I don’t find myself doing in the next couple of years and something that I’d put half my effort into. Right now is the prime time to focus on myself and consider fellowships, internships or graduate school interests. After meeting with Holly Shen, I definitely felt more inclined to tighten my straps on my goal of working in museum management because of how exciting and moving the experience is.