Passion Projects: Senate Clerk’s Desk

An Art History and Studio Art major, Olivia Bowers (Class of 2020) began work in the Museum this year. While working on a variety of projects, she became fascinated with one object that most people don’t know is in our collections. Read on to find out how Olivia is highlighting this important piece while furthering her future personal and professional goals.

What brought you to the Kentucky Museum?

The Kentucky Museum was one of my first memories of WKU. I visited it with my family before I became a student, and the idea of having a museum on campus was one of the main reasons I chose WKU. I never thought I’d actually be able to work there, but when the opportunity presented itself, I had to take it. I think the Kentucky Museum has such a unique collection and place within Kentucky history. It’s a crucial learning space that I am proud to work with.

You started working on the Senate Desk in our collections. What drew you to it? Why is it significant to you?

The Senate Clerk’s Desk was a huge draw for me because, being an art historian particularly interested in functional pieces, I believe every piece of furniture, no matter how significant, has a story to tell. I just wanted to be the one to tell the desk’s story. It’s a remarkable work of art that deserves a story.

Olivia Bowers with her supervisor, Dr. Guy Jordan (WKU Art), in front of the Ohio Clock in the hallway where the U.S. Senate conducts press releases. Bowers and Jordan were in Washington, D.C., as part of her Faculty-Undergraduate Student Engagement (FUSE) grant to work on the Senate Clerk’s desk, June 2019. Image courtesy Olivia Bowers.

You mentioned that your Honors Capstone Experience/Thesis (CE/T) project will focus on the museum. How so?

A significant part of my CE/T will cover the unique journey the desk took to get to the Kentucky Museum. One of the main things that interested me in the desk was how it ended up in Bowling Green. I intend to clear that up with my research. I also plan on creating an online exhibit for the desk, which has proven difficult to exhibit physically with its size and condition. I believe this will be a significant contribution to the museum I’ve come to know and love.

How has working with us helped further your personal or professional goals?

 The staff at the Kentucky Museum have all helped me find my path in museum work by allowing me to try everything that I find interesting and take on projects, such as the Senate Desk, to expand my knowledge on museum work. They have definitely helped me become a better worker and student, and have helped me prepare for my future in museum work.

Senate Clerk’s Desk, held by the Kentucky Museum.

Why are museums awesome?

Love this question!! There are so many reasons, but I’ve said from the start that my favorite thing about museums is how they make learning about the world accessible to everyone. There are so many unique ways to learn at a museum, and the options are infinite. No matter which way you learn best, museums are always finding new ways for you to explore the past, present, and future in an entertaining and educational way. They’re intellectual amusement parks, and they’re absolutely indispensable. I love them!

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Published by kentuckymuseumwku

The Kentucky Museum is located in the Kentucky Building on the campus of Western Kentucky University. The Museum houses several changing exhibits. There are a variety of partnerships, services, opportunities, workshops, camps and other outreach provided to the public each year.