Driving People to See Van Gogh, Cézanne and Matisse

By Jessica Troskosky, October 31, 2019
Adrian Anderson Phung ’14 turns her passion for fine arts into a career at the Barnes Foundation.

Adrian Anderson in front of paintings hanging on the wall

Adrian Anderson Phung '14 in front of two paintings from a triptych by Henri Matisse. They are, from left to right,  "Three Sisters with Grey Background" and "The Rose Marble Table," both painted in 1917. 

Adrian Anderson Phung ’14 has had an interest in the arts since she was little. In high school, she dabbled as a flutist, painted for the theatre, drew and immersed herself in art history. While she wouldn’t call herself a master in any of these art forms, she knew early on that a career incorporating her passions was important to her.  

It was this desire that led her to Ithaca College. Anderson, who is from Philadelphia, was unfamiliar with the college. However, she found the Theatre Arts Management B.S. degree requirements to be exactly what she was looking for in her collegiate education.

“I was not wrong,” says Anderson when describing the program. She worked shifts at the box office, was an usher for performances, and helped with the production of shows. Her course work was carefully curated to provide an even split between business acumen and art. “Essentially, IC gave you the tools to drive your own career in the arts field,” she says.

Each student was also assigned a practicum experience every semester. These experiences included management of performances, holding opening night receptions, and publicizing the events.

The four years at IC, combined with Anderson’s internships with the Donmar Warehouse Theatre in London, the Pennsylvania Ballet, Walnut Street Theatre, and the Barnes Foundation led to her carrying out her dreams. For two years after graduation, Anderson worked at the Philadelphia Walnut Street Theatre, the oldest theatre in America which is currently celebrating its 210th anniversary season.

“It was a great first job out of college,” says Anderson. As part of a small team, Anderson was able to gain experience in a wide variety of promotional activities from email marketing and social media promotion to merchandising for the gift shop. The historic venue provides shows, tours and educational sessions, which Anderson helped to promote.

In 2017, the Barnes Foundation was hiring for a marketing design and content specialist. Anderson jumped at the opportunity and had a relationship with the hiring manager from her senior year internship. Anderson loved her job at the theatre but longed for an opportunity to work at a museum. “My background as an art history minor and experience scene painting drove my desire to get closer to this art form,” she shares.

“Careers should be treated like a work of art. Most masterpieces weren’t thrown together in an hour. It takes time, thought and creativity to create something noteworthy.”

Adrian Anderson '14

Today, Anderson is the marketing manager for the Barnes Foundation. She helps drive admissions and ticket sales, promotes exhibitions and programs, and creates content and imagery that reflects the brand. As an art museum, the visual standards of the organization’s brand are very high and must be consistent. It is Anderson’s role to help ensure this is reflected throughout the organization.

Anderson credits her last semester of college to how she learned the importance of brand consistency. Her adviser asked for help creating a print piece for student recruitment. This required knowledge of the overall college brand image. She learned the importance of fonts, color palettes, and writing style.

Learning doesn’t stop at graduation. Anderson continues to hone her marketing skills and seeks out opportunities to learn something new. For instance, the Barnes Foundation’s membership team wanted to track guest purchases to personalize and target them with relevant offers. This required Anderson to learn and test ways to sync ticketing, purchases, and membership together that would automate and personalize promotions to guests. This wasn’t something she learned at IC, but she credits her practicums and internships for helping her to feel confident that she can teach herself new skills.

Anderson’s learnings and experience at IC continues to serve her well. A piece of advice she would offer recent graduates: “Careers should be treated like a work of art. Most masterpieces weren’t thrown together in an hour. It takes time, thought and creativity to create something noteworthy.”

Regional events

In September, Ithaca College held a regional event for alumni in the Philadelphia area, including a tour of the Barnes Foundation. The Welcome to the Neighborhood event was designed to make newcomers to the city feel more at home. To find regional events for alumni in your area, visit the Calendar of Events on the alumni website.