Grinnell Artists: Jocelyn Krueger


Evan Hein

Jocelyn Krueger, Collections Manager and Registrar at the Grinnell College Museum of Art.

Ashley Baek, Staff Writer

As the collections manager and registrar at the Grinnell College Museum of Art, the bulk of Jocelyn Krueger’s work consists of something many people only dream of: sifting through thousands of beautiful prints and works of art every day.

Krueger, who was named “member of the month” for September by the American Association of Museums and Galleries (AAMG), jumped into collections management by accident.

Krueger is an artist by training, and in 2008 while she was pursuing a degree in studio arts at the University of Iowa, Iowa City was struck by a record flood. Outside her classroom, she recalls seeing barricades to hold back the high water from the flooding. “Partway through the first two weeks, it became apparent that those barriers weren’t going to hold,” Krueger said. In response to this impending threat, she, one of six students in her printmaking class, helped to move hundreds of prints.

“I remember seeing work by Elizabeth Catlett, just passing in front of my fingers while I was shuffling through really fast. And it felt like an important thing to do, and there just wasn’t anybody there to do the work,” she said. Krueger’s commitment helped to save hundreds of pounds of artwork and sparked a lifelong interest in collections work.

Her experience moving artwork during the flood helped her after graduating, when she secured the position of curator at the Indiana State University Permanent Art Collection. “I was looking at a job that wanted to move their collection storage,” she said. “They didn’t have anybody again that could move it, and I had some experience from that moving artwork … so I lucked out and found a job.”

After her stint at Indiana State, she came into her current position at the Grinnell College Museum of Art. As an Iowa native, she remembered coming to Grinnell for a Halloween party when she was sixteen. Her brief encounter with Grinnell inspired her to apply for the job posting here.

Outside of collections work, Krueger is an artist, saying she works in “a large variety of media, from drawing and painting and printmaking to video and performance” with a specialty in figurative art. She also makes her own ink from walnut husks. Krueger’s diversity in artistic interests lends itself naturally to the wide range of media she encounters in both her collections work and work with students.

Krueger said she enjoys working with students in a nontraditional classroom setting. This often involves working directly with the collections material and information about the material, such as the College’s databases and historical paperwork. Visitors to Special Collections come from majors ranging from anthropology to German to physics. This semester, there have been 45 sessions of courses signed in from a variety of different departments.

Krueger said, “I like being able to show the artwork to people and students. I think that the number of students and classes coming in is one thing I really enjoy; I really love the way that the collection and the students engage with one another.” She said that despite not being compensated for teaching, she holds a large amount of knowledge about the material in the collection and enjoys sharing it.

Krueger said she wishes that more students knew that it is possible to access the collections outside of their classes, and she encourages them to come in and do research, whether for a creative project or purely out of curiosity.

“I didn’t know that the collections of the institutions I attended were available to me as somebody interested in art and art making. I think that there’s a lot to be gained from pursuing your own creative research in collections. It’s something that once I started knowing I could do, either with art, books, manuscripts or archives, it opened up and taught me the things that I was interested in,” she said.

If you find yourself in the basement of Burling Library between 1:30 and 5:00 p.m., consider stopping by Special Collections and Archives to see these works for yourself. The collection also has an online database on the Grinnell College Museum of Art website.