​Daniel Zies ’08 Connecting History & Art at Odessa’s Ellen Noël Museum

July 31, 2018

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By his senior year in high school, Daniel Zies ’08 knew he wanted to major in history. Growing up, he always had a passion for the past and recalls always visiting to museums and historical sites. For the last five years, Zies has been the curator of collections and exhibitions at the Ellen Noël Art Museum of the Permian Basin in Odessa, Texas.

Using the combination of his history major and art minor, he’s weaving what he loves into his career every single day. Zies, who also hold a Master of Arts in Museum Science from Texas Tech University, says he loves how studying history can take you back to a different time in place.

“The story of how people got to one place or overcame obstacles is always really interesting to me,” he said. “I also love to research; there is something so gratifying in finding an important resource or forgotten date or person.

One of the things he enjoys most about working at the museum is being able to intersect art and history in every exhibit.

“Art is usually representational of what was going in a certain time and place,” he said. “This could be how the artist was feeling or trying to portray an event in time, sometimes both. When I started working in the museum field, it gave me an opportunity to get up close and personal to works of art. It’s interesting to research what was going on during the artist’s life when that particular work was made and try to interpret that to the public. When you think about it, you can get a more in-depth understanding of that time and what people were going through. We get to see the context, and really experience it ourselves.”

Aside from hard work and perseverance, the ability to connect different subjects and see how they coexist is a skill he learned at TLU.

“TLU’s liberal arts curriculum helped guide me into understanding the qualities needed to continue my success into graduate school,” he said. “It’s because of the structure provided there that I was able to purse my passion within the museum field and was able to complete my graduate education.”

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