I began writing this blog post weeks ago but had to set it aside—because I became too sentimental to continue, but also because I was pulled into a discussion about an issue around 19th century chairs, Eliel Saarinen, and Cranbrook House (the exact details escape me). This, to me, is the perfect encapsulation of what the last two years have been: a whirlwind of emotional investment, intellectual engagement, and a work pace that proceeds at a quick clip as projects emerge from questions as diverse as “is this sandbox at Brookside a historic one?” (the answer is, “no”) to “how did those Cranbrook School chairs get all the way out to California, and what do we do with them now?” (the answer is, “we don’t know” and “return them into circulation after ensuring their condition and documentation”).
As the first full-term, resident Collections Fellow at the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research, I have worked with an amazing staff of individuals to field these questions and countless more (the less said about the discussion regarding spray-painted vandalism on the posterior of a sculpture on campus, the better). I have also had the chance to both figuratively and literally reach across the aisle to collaborate with the staff of Cranbrook Art Museum and Cranbrook Institute of Science, as well as the amazing volunteers at Cranbrook House. For two years I have watched the seasons turn from my desk in the lower level of the art museum. I have made a place for myself in CAM’s gleaming new Collections Wing as well as the less glamorous (but perhaps more curious and mysterious) storage spaces that fill attics and basements across Cranbrook’s sprawling campus. I have learned this storied site’s history, engaging with its past through three exhibitions and countless house tours, lectures, and public programming. And now, unfortunately, it is time for me to say goodbye.