Alexis Meldrum, an honors art history major and marketing minor from Carrollton, Texas, was the first Havner curatorial intern for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Her months of sifting through Buckminster Fuller’s design papers helped shape the interpretive exhibition on the architect’s Fly’s Eye Dome, which launched in July and is currently on display on the museum’s North Lawn.
While her internship at Crystal Bridges started in summer 2015, Alexis’s experience at the museum began as soon as she hit campus. She joined Crystal Bridge’s college ambassadors group her freshman year and coordinated rides from campus to Bentonville so that U of A students could explore the museum.
Walking through Crystal Bridges, seeing the colors of a painting reflect off the walls and noticing how the context of a piece affects its viewing, was something Alexis says adds so much value in the classroom. “You can read about the color palette they use, but seeing it in person really makes a difference.”
Doing deeper research on pieces in the collection, leading tours and sorting through offers for new pieces, Alexis has had a wide variety of opportunities during her time at the museum. After curators noticed one of the rooms was getting less foot traffic, Alexis was commissioned to write a label for a self-portrait of painter John Steuart Curry– a contribution that will remain on the walls even after she leaves.
Alexis spent countless hours in the Crystal Bridges library, researching art pieces found in the museum’s collection.
Alexis was one of the first people to lay eyes on these papers since Buckminster Fuller died in 1983. Her months of sifting through the documents helped shape the interpretive exhibition on the Fly’s Eye Dome.
Dylan Turk, Meldrum’s supervisor and curatorial assistant for Crystal Bridges, sees the virtue of bringing in fresh voices and ideas: “It kicks you when they’re there, to have someone who isn’t engrained in the regular process of the museum, and that’s why I like it. There are some teaching opportunities that help us reevaluate why we’re doing what we do.”
Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome looks more alien than human in construction. The world-renowned architect was inspired to design it after studying the compound eyes of flies; when you look over his papers you can see him working this out, slowly shifting away from his accustomed triangles toward more circular patterns.
Alexis and Dylan get a view of the Fly’s Eye Dome under construction from the museum’s gallery bridge. After working for so long with illustrations and diagrams, it’s exciting to see the real thing!
After helping to develop the internship program at Crystal Bridges for other Arkansas students, Alexis will be heading off to graduate school in art history at Texas Christian University, where she hopes to garner even more experience in Fort Worth’s top-notch museums.