By Theresa Kuhlmann
Melissa Hueting '04 grew up in Alton, Illinois, near St. Louis, but has spent much of her post-Knox career a few hundred miles up the Mississippi.
Hueting graduated with a bachelor's degree in classics and a minor in art history and then directly entered a two-year master's program in art history at the University of Iowa. Specializing in ancient Roman and Greek art and archeology, her passion for ancient art took her on archeological digs in Italy and the Netherlands during the summers.
After earning her master's, Hueting had a tough choice to make -- continue with her Ph.D. or take some time off and work as a curatorial assistant at the University of Iowa Museum of Art (UIMA). With her laser-sharp focus on art appreciation and a zeal for African and Ancient art -- African art being one of the UIMA's strongest collections -- it made perfect sense for her to join the museum's staff and learn about art from a new perspective.
Soon after she started at the UIMA, the catastrophic flood of 2008 hit Iowa City. Nine Iowa rivers crested at record levels; 22 levees breeched; and 83 out of 99 Iowa counties were declared disaster areas. For the UIMA, Hueting says there was a scramble to save as much art as possible before staff members and volunteers were forced to evacuate the museum, leaving behind more than a quarter of the collection, which was later saved.
Despite the chaos caused by this natural disaster, Hueting paints a pretty picture of what happened next. "The Figge Art Museum in Davenport knew about the UIMA's situation and approached us about moving the 12,000+ artwork collection into their facility temporarily. We could access the art and, eventually, work together to host exhibitions," she says.
It was a win-win situation, and the art was moved to the Figge in April 2009.
Less than a year later, Hueting moved to the Figge as well, accepting a position as the educational outreach coordinator. Hueting directs "The Big Picture," the museum's outreach program that teaches Iowa's and Illinois' K-12 core curriculum through art. "The goal is to engage the students in the classroom," Hueting says. "For example, if students are studying Geometry, I can bring in images of the Parthenon and other Greek architecture to demonstrate how math and art are connected."