Get to know our faculty through this ongoing series. This month, we interviewed Dr. Victoria Young, Professor of Architectural History and Chair of the Department of Art History.
What area of art history/architectural history did you focus on in graduate school? And where did you go?
I attended the University of Virginia and have a Master’s and Ph.D. in Architectural History which is unusual, as most programs offer Art History titled degrees. I focused on sacred space in the 19th and 20th centuries during my time at Virginia, writing a Master’s thesis on a 19th-century Trappist Monastery in England and my dissertation on the Abbey Church of Saint John’s here in Minnesota.
And what research area do you focus on now?
My current research considers the design of World War II museums internationally, with a special focus on the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, the subject of my book manuscript. Did you know that in the last decade that several war museums have opened around the world (Canada, Poland, Germany, England, etc.) and that the National World War II Museum in New Orleans ranks 2nd in the nation and world according to the 2017 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice awards? (The award highlights the world’s most popular museums based on quality and quantity of consumer ratings). There are wonderfully powerful stories in these places, in both exhibits and architecture.
Best advice you have ever received?
The best advice came from my Methods professor at Virginia, Camille Wells. Dr. Wells told me that the best thesis/dissertation is a COMPLETED thesis/dissertation. This means that at some point you have to let your work go forward, and I realized with the publication of my book on Saint John’s Abbey Church, that a book, thesis, etc., is just the start of something – it opens up a dialogue about the object that is wonderful to be a part of!
If you weren’t a professor, what would you do and why?
I’d either be an architect or meteorologist! Someday I’ll take my son on a storm chasing vacation in the summer and look at the built environment along the way.