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Museum studies students Allison Thompson and Jean Pietrowski never imagined they would have the opportunity to curate an exhibit on their own.

From selecting artifacts to actual site installation, Museum Studies students Jean Pietrowski and Allison Thompson learned about curating an exhibit in a memorable, hands-on way. Their exhibit, Lessons in Laughter, which celebrates the life of deaf playwright, director, and performer Bernard Bragg, was the first entirely student-curated exhibit held at the RIT Museum. “I had been in charge of Bragg’s collection and had absolutely fallen in love with the story of his life,” Jean says. “It was like watching an adventure unfold before my eyes.” When Allison came to work wanting to curate an exhibition related to Deaf art, Bragg’s collection was an ideal fit. Lessons in Laughter not only showcased Bragg as a treasure to performance art, but also gave both students a remarkable work experience. Under the guidance of RIT Archivists, the mentoring relationship offered a rare glimpse into the process and demands of professional museum work. Jean recalls, “It was a challenge to keep up with the exhibit and school. There were so many things to consider.” But they pulled it off with resounding success. “I would love to do more curatorial and exhibition work in the future,” Allison says. “This opportunity was really important for my future career goals.”