Adriana Ospina, MA Art History '13, is the director of the Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States (AMA). Prior to joining AMA, she held the position of educational program manager, and in 2014 she was named curator of the permanent collection. In 2017, Ospina edited the book Collection of the Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States.
CHSS had the privilege to sit down with Ospina to discuss her career path, how her degree played a pivotal role in her career trajectory, and her advice to students pursuing a degree in the humanities and social sciences. Here’s what she had to say.
Can you tell us about your college-to-career journey?
When I started as a student at Mason, I was working full-time at the Museum of the Americas, and I took classes at night. I had already finished my undergraduate degree in history back in Colombia and had come to the U.S. to learn English. I fell in love with Latin American art and the work that we were doing at the museum. The museum director told me about a professor who taught Latin American art at Mason. I wanted to study with and be mentored by her, so I applied. Since graduating, my career flourished. I became the register of the collection, then the curator of the permanent collection, and now I'm the director of the museum. Today, that professor still mentors me. Even though we are not peers in the field, she's still the backbone of the work that I do.
How has your degree helped you get where you are today?
My experience at Mason helped me not only with knowledge and understanding of the field of art history, but also gave me the critical tools for overall success in my career. I learned how to work with other people, develop partnerships, discipline, and develop my work ethic. I learned to be open to input, communicate around it, and apply it to real-life opportunities. Different lenses of input help your work grow and flourish.
What skills did you learn at Mason that have been the most valuable to you?
As an undergrad, I always tended to gravitate toward working alone, to think I can do it all by myself. But at Mason, I met peers in my field, and I realized that partnerships are better because of the collective knowledge you gain. It’s better when everyone gives input. Knowledge is not your own; it’s a construction of everybody’s input.
What is your favorite Mason memory?
Right before I graduated, I had the opportunity to create an exhibition at the museum where I work. I partnered with one of my classmates and two of my professors who were integral in developing the concept of the exhibition and supporting its opening. It was a collective work, and I was able to connect my education to the place where I worked. The exhibition then became something larger—it became part of an exhibition that traveled around the U.S.
What is your advice to current CHSS students?
Use all the tools that Mason gives you—the library, the labs, your professors. Ask questions, establish connections, and absorb everything.