July 03, 2018

From archaeological digs to museum intern, student finds unique niche researching the ancient past

by Hannah Erickson

Jordan BonadurerCARBONDALE, Ill. — Living in a tent while digging around for old artifacts might not be what most students would consider an enjoyable summer, but for Jordan Bonadurer, it’s a perfect fit.

Like many young people, when Bonadurer, a senior from Chicago, Illinois who is working on a triple major in classics, art history and English, first started at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, she had no clue what she wanted to do with her career. But after taking a class in Greek mythology, everything started coming together.

Using her new passion to tell a story

With the help of her teachers, the world of art history began to open up for Bonadurer, and suddenly, the objects weren’t just objects, but they were a link to past cultures and real stories. Each artifact she studied had new life as she began connecting the story to the piece. These early steps prepared her for the future goal of working in art interpretation at a museum.

“With my love of learning the story, and explaining the story, and getting the background, I kind of wanted to bring it to a museum, because that’s the place where the story is often lacking,” Bonadurer said.

After spending last summer living in a tent and working at an archaeological dig in Pompeii, Italy, Bonadurer was accepted this year into a fellowship at one of the most visited art museums in the world, the Cleveland Museum of Art. Working as an interpretation intern, she is focused on making museums more accessible to those who might visit.

People often see an item only as a random piece of art, but there is so much more to it, Bonadurer explained. Each piece represents something bigger that once happened, every object has a unique story to tell.

Opening this world to other people

Once Bonadurer completes her eight week internship at the Cleveland Museum of Art, she is off to Italy again with an SIU study abroad team to work in an Italian museum. By comparing and contrasting the two cultural experiences, Bonadurer is preparing for her future career.

She also has a unique goal of transforming parts of Italy.

“In a lot of sites in Italy, they aren’t clearly marked,” Bonadurer said. “You can just walk by something that is really amazing, and miss it. I would love to use my career to help with the interpretation of those sites.”

Bonadurer was awarded the 2015 Chancellor’s Scholarship

Bonadurer received SIU’s most prestigious award in 2015, the Chancellor’s Scholarship. Originally from Chicago, Illinois, she also participated in the American Youth Leadership Program in Singapore and Malaysia, sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

She has used her cultural experience to branch into new fields, and is open to potentially working in a foreign museum in the future.