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December 22, 2014

Art, history and a great museum, too

New director for Heritage Hall feels right at home

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Posted: Monday, June 2, 2014 11:40 pm

She loves architecture and things old, and art and it just seems to be the perfect place for her.

Heather Miller has been “in the house” as the new director at Talladega’s Heritage Hall Museum going on a couple of weeks now, and she says it just feels right.

Miller is taking on the position vacated by retiring director Kelly Williams, and said she is very happy to be in this environment of the arts, as well as inside the historic building she’s already feeling an affinity for.

“I have held a position in museum management before, but it was in a historic house museum,” Miller said. 

“This position will allow me to promote preservation due to our wonderful historic building as well as promoting art education.”

Miller found her specialty in art in printmaking, and her favorite forms being in linoleum and wood. 

Miller’s prior position was as manager for one of the Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society’s properties in Marietta, Ga., the Root House, where she oversaw maintenance and operations for the property, arranged for tours, supervised docents and the museum collection, along with working with museum marketing and policies and procedures.

Prior to this, Miller was employed by the Atlanta History Center as historic house interpreter at the organization’s historic property, The Swan House, in the Buckhead area of the city.

As a preservation handbook graduate assistant for the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation/Fox Theatre Institute in 2011, Miller conducted research for the Georgia Historic Preservation Handbook and also researched the organization’s role in historic preservation, among other duties.

Miller was also a collections management intern for Anniston’s Berman Museum of World History and a work study student for the Department of Art history at Jacksonville State University, tutoring students, establishing a digitizing system, assisting a professor, performing research among other duties.

She received her bachelor‘s degree in fine arts from Jacksonville State University which included coursework in print making, art history and anthropology, and a master’s degree in heritage preservation with a focus on museum studies from Georgia State University in 2012.

It was while taking an American art history class from art history professor Karen Henricks, under whom Miller was a work study student, that she began her connection to the world of architecture, and later, to preservation..

“I did not like architecture, so I had not planned on taking the class,” Miller said. “She convinced me to take it anyway and I learned from her through her lectures that you could see the so much about America’s history and culture by studying the buildings we use(d) on a daily basis. I absolutely loved architecture after this class and decided to go into historic preservation.”

The different facets of her job at Heritage Hall incorporate her interests and background, Miller said.

“Since I have a background as an artist, art historian and preservationist, I get to use all of my formal training in one job,” she said. “I am really looking forward to getting back into the arts as executive director of Heritage Hall. I took dance for years as a child and even got to dance one summer in New York, and would not be who I am today without having been immersed in the arts from such an early age.”

Though artists are often portrayed as free spirits, Miller said it is her belief that the arts help people become dedicated and disciplined people. 

“That’s why art education is a huge passion of mine,” she said. “Every child needs to be at least introduced to the arts to become a fully rounded adult.”

After holding the position she did in management for a historic home, Miller said her new position will allow her to promote preservation.

“This is due to our wonderful historic building, as well as in art education,” she said. 

“I would love to see the museum have history share the spotlight with the arts,” she said. 

“In this building it is really important. Just in my first week here, I have already experienced people coming into the museum to reminisce from the building’s ‘library days.’ Talladega has such a rich history which could be a major focus at Heritage Hall.”

Miller also hopes to remind the community that the museum is a public place for those who love and have interest in the arts.

“I would love for everyone to know I am really looking forward to getting to know and working with the residents of Talladega,” she said. “I hope they will stop by.”

The museum is open Tuesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and hosts regular receptions for artists with their work on display, shows selections from the permanent collection and houses an extensive historic photograph collection.

There is a Facebook page to help stay up to date on upcoming events happening at the museum.

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