Marjorie Schwarzer is the receipient of this year's Leadership Award. She is the Administrative Director for the Museum Studies program at University of San Francisco.
I've been thinking about all the people—mentors, teachers, family, friends, colleagues upon whose shoulders I stand and of the people upon whose shoulders all you stand as well. And of all the people who will come after us and stand on our shoulders. That’s a lot of people holding each other up. Like all of you, I've also been thinking about inspiring museum experiences. I've had a few just this past year: at the courageous National Museum for African American History and Culture in DC, at a queer art exhibition the Rockbund Contemporary Art Museum in Shanghai, at the stunning and profound Preston Singletary exhibition just across the street from here at the Museum of Glass.
Two weeks ago I had another kind of transcendent experience. A former student took me along to see Yoyo Ma perform the Bach cello suites. I joined 8,500 people to see Yoyo Ma perform the six Bach cello suites at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. Yoyo has been playing these suites for over 50 years. But as he’s grown older, his feeling for the music, the rhythms has grown stronger, less technical, less showy, wiser, more nuanced, loving, attentive to the moment. After he’d finished playing for two and a half hours straight, he spoke to us about the man upon whose shoulders he stands: the great Spanish cellist Pablo Casals. Yoyo told us a story. In 1939, after Franco took power in Spain, Casals went into political exile, risking not only his career, but his life. Casals vowed he would not perform again in his home country until democracy was restored.
Yoyo, however, implored his audience that night not to go silent in our home country: he wants us to use the truth and power of our art forms, our storytelling capacity and our passions to continue to play our music—but to do so with renewed purpose and commitment to being not just loud, but nuanced, loving, attentive to the moment, and at the very highest level we can possibly strive to.
This is what I believe we—all of us—all of us here at WMA—all of us fortunate to be in the museum world—must do. We need to keep our shoulders strong, loving, attentive to the moment, in order to lift all of those who will come after us.