Natalie Reichert is Western Spirit’s Bruner Scholar for Spring 2023. We caught up with Natalie to ask her about her experience as a Bruner Scholar and her work in Visitor Services.

WS: How did you become a Bruner Scholar?

Reichert: After I was hired to work in Visitor Services, I was exploring the galleries. I ran into Sandy Bruner, who let me know that the Bruners had started a scholarship program and that I should apply. I sent my résumé and here I am. It was a very happy circumstance.

WS: Tell us something about your education.

Reichert: When I started at ASU, I intended to get my degree in Early Childhood Education, but as I got into the program, I realized that my interests didn’t lie in the classroom. I read an article about a former student who was working in Education at the Musical Instrument Museum and I switched to the Museum Studies major. I’ll be graduating in May.

WS: What’s ASU’s Museum Studies major like?

Reichert: It’s a fairly new program at the Herberger Institute. There’s a great deal of emphasis on the role of museums in the community: how they can make a positive impact and serve the community as a whole. What role does public art play? What do history and art history, especially of the region, contribute to the ongoing conversation, not only of what the region was, but where it’s headed and what it wants to become. Museums are becoming more active cultural institutions.

WS: Have you always been interested in history and art?

Reichert: We’re a fourth generation Arizona family. We have collections of jewelry, baskets, rugs. My grandmother collected and often wore turquoise pieces. My mom is a huge history buff. We were always watching documentaries on PBS and visiting museums. It’s become a personal passion for me.

WS: What’s your day like at Western Spirit?

Reichert: I split time between Visitor Services and the Bruner Scholar work. With Visitor Services, I help with tickets and memberships and interact with visitors. As a Bruner Scholar I work with Wade Weber, Director of Education. I help with tours and school visits and watch the docents work. I’m a relatively new hire, so I’m learning from everyone. The kids are fun and Wade has activities in each gallery so they see the art and artifacts and do something they can take home with them. It solidifies the experience for them. They like the train, of course, and the Abe Hays gallery. To kids, the whole cowboy idea seems like a “tall tale.” Then they come to Western Spirit and see that it really happened, and that it’s still happening. I see the positive impact on them. Arizona history is deep, rich, good and bad, and I want to work in the museum field so that other kids have the same opportunities.

WS: Do you have any favorite exhibitions or objects?

Reichert: Light and Legacy—the Curtis exhibition. The size and scope alone are incredible. I read Short Nights of the Shadowcatcher and it’s fun to follow the story through the exhibition. The bronzes as well. I have seen bronzes, but the collection at Western Spirit is truly remarkable.

WS: What’s the most surprising part of your time at Western Spirit so far?

Reichert: That artists come in who have pieces in the museum. You can meet people who make Western Spirit possible.