VER Staff Spotlight: Ramon Espinosa
There is nothing quite like walking into a new exhibition and letting yourself be guided by the rush of curiosity from seeing an artwork that shocks, confuses, intrigues, or maybe does all of the above. Over the past few months, the Hammer has welcomed in a slew of new exhibitions, including a retrospective of the Italian Arte Povera artist Marisa Merz, highlights from recent acquisitions to the Hammer Contemporary Collection, and four distinct Hammer Projects that inhabit the museum’s lobby wall and galleries. While this diverse range of works on display has the power to speak to visitors in new and exciting ways as they stroll from one gallery to the next, our team of Visitor Experience Representatives (VERs) brings unique perspectives to the table as facilitators of positive museum visits.
We continue in our series of VER staff highlights (earlier posts here and here) with Ramon Espinosa, Visitor Experience Lead and (spoiler alert) former pastry cook. Ramon shares his must-see artworks on view, reflects on the value of student work experience, and even reveals the best part about working at a museum.
When did you start working at the Hammer?
I was a VER from February until October of 2015. I left to finish some courses and to work for Blick Art Materials. A Lead opportunity came up this February, and I’ve been here since then.
VERs are usually the first people visitors interact with upon entering the museum. Can you talk a bit about how the Vistor Experience department helps keep the museum space accessible for all?
VERs are given information about exhibitions and events every day so that they can help promote our programs (especially for first time visitors) and to also help them navigate through the museum spaces and uphold museum policies. The VERs are trained in a similar manner as customer service representatives. The department has an overall friendly and welcoming vibe, and visitors are welcome to pick their brains about the art!
Are there any favorite exhibitions at the Hammer this summer? Any you are looking forward to?
I was excited about the Keiichi Tanaami and Oliver Payne collaboration. I first found out about Keiichi Tanaami a couple of years ago in this book store on Fairfax called Family. They were selling one of his monographs, and I was an instant fan. I was also excited to see Daido Moriyama’s photographs as part of the museum’s new acquisitions in Living Apart Together (I found out about the photographer in the same book store). And I’m always looking forward to Made in L.A., which comes back next summer.
What’s the best part about working at a museum, in your opinion?
Getting to look at the art every day is definitely a rare treat. Oddly, I also like the rush of opening the museum every morning, and engaging with VERs and letting them know about events and happenings.
As a Lead, you see many students come to work at the Hammer before moving on to higher education and/or professional careers. What is something you hope student employees might take away from their time at the Hammer?
The Hammer is a really good place for students to practice their professionalism because we do engage with different kinds of people all the time. But what I hope for them to take after leaving here is the openness to the different ways of how people think, to not be single minded, and to consider every opinion before coming up with solutions.
Fun fact about yourself:
I went to culinary school, and I was a chef from age 19 to 26. I worked as a pastry cook for the restaurant Providence, which is a Michelin-starred restaurant.