The gray door of the Bowdoin College of Museum of Art—facing the Visual Arts Center—is an emergency exit, but not for Curator Joachim Homann, who uses it as a main entrance to his underground office.
A curator is "someone who likes to understand stories behind the art," said Homann.
Homann began working at the Museum at the end of September.
"I'm still as confused as a freshman and trying to understand how the Museum works," he said.
Though he may be a "freshman" at the Museum, Homann is a senior when it comes to creating art exhibitions. Homann's resumé shines with years worth of education and experience as a curator.
Before coming to Bowdoin, Homann worked at Colgate College, where he was a curator for three particular exhibitions: "Linn Underhill: Of Someone and Something," "Christina Zück: Defence Phase II Karachi," and "Woodcuts in Modern China, 1937-2008: Towards a Universal Pictorial Language."
Underhill is an associate professor at Colgate and an artist whose work explores queer and gender themes.
"Her art is very powerful because she expresses and defines her queer identity with her pictures."
Similarily, Zück's exhibition, which contained everyday scenes of Karachi, Pakistan, and the Modern China exhibit raised awareness of cultures that viewers may not have been familiar with.
Continuing his history of diverse exhibitions, Homann is hoping to "equally tap into the diversity and unique resources that Bowdoin has to offer," he said.
"[The] Bowdoin community can learn about the world through these shows and also learn about themselves in the process with art," said Homann.
Homann said he wants to "use the depth of the collections to make sure people understand how historical aspects can bring inspiration to people today."
Homann said he hopes to open up conversations amongst students about the Museum and how it is perceived on campus.
The Museum is a space "where people can come together, care about something, be inspired, and share their perspective that enriches others," he said. "I don't want [to] think of it as a Museum for art history majors."
He is optimistic about generating more student interest in the Museum.
"I'm going to find a way to intensify my interaction with students," he said. "I want to bring together the energetic campus body and the amazing work here."
"The Museum is not just a place for art historians," said Homann. "It is a place for everyone on campus."
Homann is open to ideas of what students would like to see exhibited at the Museum, and said he encourages them to get in touch with him.
Homann's interest in art began in high school in northern Germany, where he was born. At the State Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe, Germany, he majored in art history and minored in archeology and history.
Homann then received a fellowship to work as a curator for the Harvard University Busch-Reisinger Museum from 2001 to 2003. There, he curated his first show, "Le coq d'or: Natalia Goncharova's Designs for the Ballets Russes."
"It was totally exciting," he said. "I wanted to create a show that made a compelling statement."
Homann wrote about the political use of art for his dissertation.
"[It was] a topic I found thrilling, but no one wanted to hear about," he said.
Homann said he hopes to "do something here that investigates the political use of images in the 1800s, a formative period for 200 years of modern art," he said.
Homann's career as a curator continued in Texas.
From 2004 to 2007, he taught as a lecturer of art history and was the art gallery curator at the University of Texas at El Paso.
"The environment there is characterized as being on the border of Mexico," said Homann, who was disappointed that many saw it as a grim.
Homann's observation inspired him to create an exhibition that did not "always point at the misery of living on the border," he said. "I wanted to create an exhibition that made people proud and happy."
And so he did.
The exhibition, "El Maestro Francisco Toledo," blended the art of the indigenous Mesoamerican Zapotec culture with surrealist western art.
"It created a very erotic, environment-concerned art," said Homann. "It drew a bridge that was very meaningful to many people."
"El Maestro" was so well-received by critics and audiences that it traveled to Princeton University. Homann noted this as an important connection between a big state university and an elite school.
Homann has two children and is married to Natasha Homann, who will be teaching "Art and the Street" in the spring semester.