Art historian excels with Hixson-Lied opportunities

Anne Rimmington serves as a docent in the Sheldon Museum of Art
Anne Rimmington serves as a docent in the Sheldon Museum of Art

Art historian excels with Hixson-Lied opportunities

calendar icon15 Apr 2013    

Anne Rimmington, a junior from Wichita, Kan., was trying to decide between attending the University of Kansas and the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The deciding factors were a Hixson-Lied College Freshman Scholarship and the opportunities in her area of study.

Upon visiting campus for the first time, Rimmington, an art history and French major, heard about Hixson-Lied Professor of Art History Michael Hoff taking groups of students to Greece and Turkey for further study of art history and archeology.

“I thought it was really cool that this professor takes students with him to go conduct his research,” Rimmington said. “You get to see all of the art work you learn about in class but in real life.”

Last summer, Rimmington was given a Hixson-Lied travel grant and went on a trip abroad to Greece with Hoff. He takes a group of students every other summer for a world campus class known as Art History 311.

“It was really cool because it was art history, but in action,” Rimmington said. “Instead of looking at a photograph you get to walk around the site.”

Rimmington said it was completely different to see ancient artifacts and architecture first hand rather than in photos in class.

“It has a lot more impact when you’re actually at the location because you can see how small you are in comparison to how large the whole stricture is and how the buildings are,” she said. “You don’t understand how large the building is until you’re actually there.”

Hoff said one of the best aspects of being a professor on a trip like the one he took Rimmington and other students on is to see the students’ reactions when they actually see the buildings and artifacts.

“It awakens in them a true understanding of ancient culture,” Hoff said. “Just to watch them with wonder and awe at the Parthenon, to me that’s a great experience because I’m old and jaded . . . but these guys get to see it for the first time and that’s fun just to see the expression on their faces.”

Gained perspective and understanding

One of places Rimmington traveled to that was the most different in person than pictures was the Acropolis. She said the site has been under construction for many years, but a lot of photos don’t show it.

“It was very, very different because it was surround by people,” she said. “It was one of the, if not the most, popular place in Greece. It’s very crowded. There’s a lot of pollution and you don’t see that in the photographs because they take it on a clear day where there’s no construction or people.”

Along with seeing buildings and artifacts, Rimmington enjoyed seeing and experience Greece as a whole.

“Since I was in Greece, you interact with the Greek people, obviously, but you also interact with the landscape,” she said. “It’s very mountainous and being form the Midwest, it was nothing like anything I’d ever seen before.”

Hoff was glad Rimmington was a part of the study tour to Greece.

“I was very pleased for Anne to be able to experience this and it’s a very necessary part of her education and development as a future art historian,” Hoff said.

Rimmington now has been able to picture the location of buildings while studying them in class.

“It’s a lot easier to comprehend when you’ve been there because you can imagine where the buildings are in relation to each other,” she said. “That helped me a lot.”

Additional enrichment at UNL

Since the Greece trip, Rimmington joined the student advisory board for the Hixson-Lied College. As a board member, she helps go over student applications for grants and planning events for the entire college.

“I was really excited to go onto the (student advisory) board,” Rimmington said.

This fall, Rimmington also became a student docent at the Sheldon Museum of Art. As a docent, she gives tours of the museum to schools who are visiting and general visitors.

Rimmington likes to lead discussion-based tours to help the visitors get involved.

“Usually I just ask questions, and the visitors will talk and sometimes we throw in background information about the piece and see if that changes their perception of the piece,” Rimmington said. “That’s always really interesting.”

Also on tours, Rimmington likes to take advantage of the different style of art that are on display.

“One thing I like to do is the discussion of what is art because we have a really good photo exhibition called ‘Encounters,’” she said. “That’s really interesting because they can look at photography then compare it to a painting.”

Hoff said that being a student docent is an experience that not many students studying art history at other universities get.

“She has the opportunity to get close and personal to the arts and to introduce people to the works of art just like I got to introduce her to the antiquities of early Greece,” he said.

Continuation of faculty mentorship

Hoff and Rimmington were able to work together outside of Greece as well. She was his TA for a class of his, and Hoff said there was no question when it came to deciding it would be her.

“She’s good,” Hoff said. “We needed an undergraduate of the highest caliber. There was no question that that person would be Anne.”

Hoff said he has enjoyed being able to watch Rimmington throughout her journey of studying art history so far.

“It’s been a joy and pleasure to watch her mature and grow as a young art historian,” Hoff said. “She was always smart, but watching her become aware of art history and grow as a young art historian and put her knowledge into being a teaching assistant, that has been wonderful to watch.”

- Ally Phillips, College of Journalism and Mass Communications