More American history, please.
Kirsten Moffett Reoch ’90, Director of Design and Construction
Major: art history
Advanced Degrees: MS in Historic Preservation from Columbia University
Employer: Park Avenue Armory
My focus in art history at MHC was medieval European art, but the first museum job I could find was as a docent in a historic house museum in Washington, DC. I had dreamed of working at the Metropolitan Museum or a European collection but wound up in a tiny 1818 Federal Style townhouse on Lafayette Square. As I began to focus on the story of the home's historic occupants and their collections on exhibit, I began to realize that the story I was most interested in was of the actual built structure of the house and its restoration over the years. Perhaps that connects back to all those Gothic cathedrals that Professor Michael Davis had me study.
I went on to work at a series of small community-based nonprofits focused on advocacy for historic preservation until I realized that I was not advancing professionally without a graduate degree.
I completed my MS degree in Preservation the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University in 1996. My MHC education in art history helped me throughout my architectural history classes as I had a firm grounding in styles and periods of design. However, because all my undergraduate history and art history courses at MHC centered around Europe, I really had to work on my knowledge of American history in graduate school. If I could go back in time, I would make myself take some American history classes at MHC (at least one!).
Since graduating from Columbia, I have worked on two amazing projects, the restoration of the New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street and the adaptive reuse and restoration of the Park Avenue Armory (see also, the article in the International New York Times). Both these projects have included working with amazing architects and conservators on nationally important landmark structures. They have also both centered around their end use as venues for performing and visual arts.
I really enjoy the transformative process - from the initial research and condition surveys to the heavy construction and then the final unveiling. And as each project ends, I begin to look ahead to the next challenge.