Anna Serotta '03, Associate Conservator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, recently participated in the Hood's "The New Now: Art, Museums, and the Future" symposium. Hosted in celebration of Dartmouth's 250th anniversary and the reopening of the Hood, the symposium showcased alumni who have gone on to careers in museums through panel sessions and a reception. Learn more about Anna's career below.
What have you been up to since you graduated from Dartmouth?
The fall after graduation I began an internship in objects conservation at the MFA Boston. I knew that I was interested in exploring art conservation as a career path, and during my senior year, I wrote to many of the labs in the northeast to see who might take an intern. I was lucky to land at the MFA, where I met colleagues who have been mentors and friends ever since. I was also really lucky to receive funding for that first year from the Dickey Center. After two years at the MFA, and night classes in chemistry, I began my graduate training in art conservation at New York University's Institute of Fine Arts. I majored in objects conservation with a focus on archaeological materials, and I spent my summers working on excavations in Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Egypt. For my final year of graduate school, I interned at the Brooklyn Museum and followed this up with a fellowship at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I stayed at The Met for several years as a contract conservator and then left in 2014 when I received a Rome Prize, the subject of which was "The Documentation, Analysis and Replication of Tool Marks on Ancient Stone Sculpture." After a glorious stint at the American Academy in Rome, I returned to New York where I worked as a contract conservator at the American Museum of Natural History and the Brooklyn Museum before being hired again by The Met, this time permanently, as the primary conservator for the Egyptian Art Collection.
Were your original intentions to pursue a career in the arts after college?
Yes, but it took me a while to figure out exactly what that career would be. When I first arrived at Dartmouth I was interested in some sort of career in fine arts, but then I took my first art history class and fell in love with that discipline. Ultimately, I decided that I was neither an artist nor an art historian, and that's when I discovered art conservation, which is somewhere in between. All of that being said, I have to confess that while at Dartmouth my main focus was not the arts at all—I was a rower and this took up a lot of my time and energy!
What do you enjoy most about working in the arts?
I'm extremely privileged to be in my particular corner of the arts world, where I get to have such intimacy with works of art and artifacts. Every object tells a unique story—uncovering those stories and communicating them is really fun!
Was the Hood a valuable resource for you as an undergraduate?
Absolutely. Many of my classes used the Hood, and the accessibility of the collection and staff really opened my eyes to different professions within the museum world.
What advice would you give to Dartmouth students as they consider their future career choices?
Take advantage of Dartmouth's vast network of incredible alumni! When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do after Dartmouth I reached out to alumni in the museum world. They were tremendously generous and gave me lots of great advice, connections, and even set me up with conservation lab tours. Also, learn languages and learn how to write well! Those skills are foundational for so many careers in the arts and beyond.
As Associate Conservator in Objects Conservation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Anna Serotta is primarily responsible for the Egyptian Art collection. She received her MA in art history and an advanced certificate in art conservation at the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU, where she majored in objects conservation with a focus on archaeological materials. Prior to her current appointment, Anna held contract positions at the Brooklyn Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she has worked as an archaeological field conservator on sites in Egypt, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. Anna is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome and also a lecturer for the Institute of Fine Arts Conservation Center.