Slinging wine and pizza at a bar in Pittsburgh provided both skills and art-sector mentors for Leah Comiskey, the education and public engagement coordinator for The Galleries at Moore.
“I think the service industry gives you a good sense of assessing and valuing other people’s needs and quickly coming up with ways to satisfy that,” she said, “and talking to people, an ability to think on your feet, and putting out small fires constantly.”
In her role, Comiskey hosts programs and events that connect Moore’s students, faculty and Philadelphia communities in a welcoming learning environment. Projects include a wellness and self-care-based series that plays off of exhibitions in The Galleries, and a collaboration with high school students to create a permanent exhibition about the history of the Ferguson School, which now houses the U School.
After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with degrees in English literature and art history, the Lehigh Valley native managed a wine bar and restaurant where a lot of museum people, curators and educators hung out.
“They sort of introduced me to the idea of pursuing arts nonprofit work as a career because I definitely had an interest in it then,” she said. The chef-owner of the restaurant also encouraged her to follow her interests.
Comiskey moved back to the Philadelphia area and earned a master’s degree in museum education from the University of the Arts.
Before joining The Galleries in November 2019, Comiskey did work for the Brandywine River Museum, the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia, and was the Richard C. von Hess Tours and Visitor Learning Fellow at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
“It’s amazing to see how much is going on here in Philadelphia and how many nonprofit arts organizations are working together,” she said. “It’s just a really good place to be.”