The Birmingham Museum of Art is excited to welcome the new Museum Shop Manager, Sophie Cosper. A Birmingham native, Sophie discovered her love for art as a child and says that art has played a vital role in both her personal and professional life. Sophie looks forward to learning about upcoming exhibitions at the BMA, as well as purchasing items that are relevant to the Museum’s collection.
How has art impacted your life?
Sophie Cosper: I’ve been around art my entire life. My mother is an art historian, my grandmother was an art teacher, and my dad is an architect. I remember when I was probably four or five years old my parents took me to see the Treasures of Tutankhamun in New Orleans. I was and still am fascinated by art and artifacts of ancient civilizations. From that point on, all of our vacations centered around going to see a painting, a sculpture, or a cathedral. In high school, I spent more of my day in the art classroom than anywhere else, and that is around the time I took up photography. I went on to get my BA in art studio with a minor in art history. While I am not a practicing artist by any means, art and design have played significant roles in my professional career.
What are you most looking forward to as the new Museum Shop Manager?
SC: I’ve set some pretty lofty goals for the future of the Shop, and I am looking forward to seeing it evolve and grow. The Shop should be an extension of the Museum and should enhance the visitor experience. I am excited about bringing new and interesting products to the Museum and finding fun and relevant items to mirror the exhibitions. Come visit soon to see some exciting changes!
What is your favorite part of managing the Museum Shop so far?
SC: By far the best thing has been the feedback I have gotten from visitors, docents, and patrons. I love hearing how much they enjoy the shop and finding out what their favorite items are. I’ve talked to husbands who come in to shop for their wives, out-of-town visitors who come by every time they are in town, and even customers from other states who call to order items from us.
How do you plan to draw inspiration from the Museum’s collection when purchasing items for the Shop?
SC: I believe that this is what sets a great museum store apart from the rest. You have to create a connection between the art itself and the merchandise in the store. There are a lot of ways to do that. Some shoppers are consistent and will go straight to the postcards or the magnets after their visit. Others prefer a more meaningful or inspiring item that ties to the exhibition or collection. I plan to spend some time in the galleries and talk with the curatorial staff to learn as much as I can in order to make the right purchasing decisions.
What is your favorite collection area or work of art at the Museum?
SC: I can’t say what my favorite piece of art or collection is for a couple of reasons. First of all, there are incredible works all over this building and it would be impossible to choose. Secondly, I want each curator to think that their collection is my favorite! I will say that currently I have a favorite painting, a favorite photograph, and a favorite sculpture. I expect (and hope) for those to change on a frequent basis as my discovery process continues.