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Program takes students beyond art gallery’s walls

The Albright-Knox Art Gallery and First Niagara Bank have teamed up to create a program to educate teens about the work and finances that go into running a museum. The Future Curators is part of the AK Teens program and is a group of 14 teens from Western New York and Southern Ontario that meets weekly at the Albright-Knox to learn about art and how a museum functions.

Most of the teens are considering careers in the arts or other creative pursuits, while a few of them would like to continue working in museums and become curators.

Whitney Kehl, 17, a senior at Attica Senior High School, is pursuing a career as an art curator. She is one of the 14 students in the program and is headed to SUNY Purchase next year for arts management.

“It’s a little extra perspective that is really fun and getting to try what this career could be like,” Whitney said.

One of the activities AK Teens provided her with was the opportunity to speak with Justin Morcelle, first vice president and director of finance for the Business Unit-Retail at First Niagara Bank. Morcelle provided insight about the finances of running a gallery.

“My goal is to take something that’s very important to them and to [help them] see the financial side,” said Morcelle.

He also spoke to the students about the importance of managing finances in their own lives.

“The real thing I was trying to get at was how does this relate to my personal finances?” said Morcelle.

“He showed us how to make a budget and stick to it every month,” said Whitney.

The Future Curators program also provides the teens with the opportunity to see a variety of professions that are important to the museum.

“Mostly we’ve been talking to people in the museum who do different things,” said Whitney.

The teens also learn how exhibits are created. The museum has more paintings than it can display, so it is important for an art curator to choose what will be shown to the public.

“Everything has to be shown a certain way,” said Whitney. “You have to ask – what is the correlative between these paintings?”

Some upcoming events in the AK Teens program include portfolio review sessions from 10:15 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 21 and a panel discussion – “Career Chat: Working in the Visual Arts” – from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. April 21.


The Future Curators program will be planning and running an exhibit of artwork from area high school students. The exhibit will be open from May 3 to June 16. An opening celebration will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. May 2 at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Emily Coleman is a senior at Frontier High School.