The artist behind the MFA’s sound

Thanks to experiential learning and determination, Northeastern alumna Jasmine Hagans is living her dream as curator of lectures, courses, and concerts at the Museum of Fine Arts, where she’s building its concert profile. Photograph © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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.”

Written by Greg St. Martin

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