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The artist behind the MFA’s sound

Jasmine Hagans

Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

By Greg St. Martin

North­eastern alumna Jas­mine Hagans has lived and breathed music her whole life. Her father is a pro­fes­sional jazz musi­cian, and she has worked at local venues, man­aged two bands on tour, and played drums in a rock band for the last year and a half.

“I don’t think I could live hap­pily without music being a part of my life,” said Hagans, a 2009 grad­uate of the music industry pro­gram with minors in busi­ness admin­is­tra­tion, urban studies, and history.

Thanks to both her dogged­ness and valu­able experiential-​​learning oppor­tu­ni­ties at North­eastern, music cur­rently plays a role in what she does every day. Hagans is the curator of lec­tures, courses, and con­certs at the Museum of Fine Arts on Hunt­ington Avenue. In this role, she pro­grams more than 150 events per year, ranging from adult art his­tory and cul­ture classes to dynamic lec­tures and concerts.

In par­tic­ular, Hagans has embraced the oppor­tu­nity to expand the MFA’s music offer­ings. She pro­posed and imple­mented a pro­gram called Sound Bites, which brings in free live music one Thursday a month between the fall and spring. As a result of her cre­ative insights into plan­ning and music, the museum has fea­tured both pop­ular and worldly acts such as Pas­sion Pit, Oliver Mtukudzi, Eme­line Michel, Cal­i­fone, Lost in the Trees, So Per­cus­sion, and My Brightest Diamond.

Opened in 1876, the MFA is one of the globe’s most com­pre­hen­sive art museums, with a col­lec­tion com­prising nearly 450,000 works of art that are viewed by more than 1 mil­lion vis­i­tors each year. To Hagans, building the MFA’s con­cert slate to com­ple­ment its remark­able art exhibits and edu­ca­tional pro­gram­ming seemed like a nat­ural fit.

“Why not? This is the MFA,” she said. “As you walk around the museum, you feel truly inspired by these artists, and I felt that adding more music pro­gram­ming could only bring it even more to life. It gets you in the mindset that you’re in a spe­cial place.”

Hagans started at the MFA in June 2006 as a part-​​time intern, helping to coor­di­nate and manage winter and summer pro­grams and other events at the museum. Over time, she took on more respon­si­bility as pro­duc­tion assis­tant and then a man­ager, even­tu­ally coor­di­nating all aspects of the museum’s con­cert pro­gram­ming, from pro­duc­tion to hospitality.

After grad­u­a­tion, Hagans spent a year teaching Eng­lish in South Korea. When she returned, she soon real­ized her heart remained with the arts. So she recon­nected with her former employer and earned a posi­tion as the man­ager of lec­tures, courses, and con­certs in Oct. 2010. In July of this year, she was pro­moted to curator.

She credits her North­eastern edu­ca­tion for fos­tering her open mind as well as for fur­thering her engage­ment with arts, cul­ture, and the music industry.

“Each day I have the oppor­tu­nity to look at a visual ency­clo­pedia of human his­tory,” Hagans said. “Working here is nothing short of inspi­ra­tional and ful­filling both on a per­sonal and com­mu­nity level. Not a day goes by in which I don’t learn some­thing about the world’s his­tory and how we’re all moving forward.”

This article was originally published by News@Northeastern
Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston