Barry McNamara  |   Published June 27, 2016

Loving the Louvre

Art and history come alive in Paris, Amsterdam for Monmouth group
  • Professors Brian (left) and Stephanie Baugh (center) guide Monmouth College students through the Louvre in Paris.
Hannah Rillie ’18 has studied great works of art at Monmouth College. But it wasn’t until she saw some of them in person that she truly appreciated their magnificence.

Rillie was one of six Monmouth students and three faculty members who traveled to Paris and Amsterdam in May on a trip that focused on the art and history of the two major European cities.

“It was amazing to get to see all these famous pieces of art in the Louvre that I’d only seen on a computer screen before,” said Rillie, an art major from Morrison, Ill. “I’m so glad we got as much time there as we did. I was in there for hours.”

Even art lecturer Stephanie Baugh was affected by the art, and she had been to Paris previously.

“In both Paris and Amsterdam, I was very aware of how much art is integrated into the cities,” she said. “To see time, energy and resources spent on increasing the aesthetic and visual qualities of a city affirms my commitment to sharing the discipline of art with my students. While art is sometimes seen as a marginal endeavor, seeing so much attention given to art – in public sculptures in parks, along bridges and in architecture, and in cultural institutions such as the museums – confirms the importance of art in everyday life.”

Baugh helped lead the trip along with her department colleague and husband, Brian Baugh, and assistant professor of history Christine Myers.

In the Netherlands, the group toured the Anne Frank House, which Myers said was a sobering reminder of one of history’s darker periods.

“One of the students said she was looking forward to going to the house more than any other destination on our itinerary, and I think all the students appreciated our time there,” she said. “The exhibits were well-done and the use of mixed media to convey the story of Anne and her family was thoughtfully done.”

Rillie, whose hometown has 4,000 people, said she gained a greater sense of independence while traveling in Paris.

“I think the moment that will stick with me the most was the small sense of pride that I felt when I successfully navigated the Metro system alone,” said Rillie, who also enjoyed the opportunity to revitalize the French she learned in high school. “My feet were absolutely killing me after spending 6-1/2 hours in the Louvre the previous day, so I took the Metro back to the hotel, went to the grocery store and vegged out. It kind of felt like I lived there for a day, to be honest. And it was my birthday to boot, so all around it was a great day.”

The Baughs spent an extra week in Europe and used part of the time to connect with a new Monmouth student and an alumnus. In the Netherlands, they met incoming international student Rik Doornenbal.

“His mother hosted us for a day and we visited the local middle school where she works and took a bicycle ride around the countryside near Utrecht,” Stephanie Baugh said. “We learned a lot about why Monmouth College appeals to international students – the focused atmosphere of academic work and the tight-knit caring environment that Monmouth College offers are very inviting.”

They also visited Arjun Ahluwalia ’09 in Bergen, Norway. He attended graduate school at the University of Iowa, and now works as a graphic designer in Bergen.

“It was wonderful to reconnect with Arjun and hear about how much he loved in time at Monmouth and about how he is still in touch with friends from Monmouth,” Stephanie Baugh said.

As so often happens for students who go abroad, Rillie now has the travel bug.
“I also went to Greece for spring break with the classics department, and that was an experience I’ll never forget,” she said. “Monmouth has given me so many opportunities to go abroad and I am so grateful. These trips have only made me want to explore more of the world, and I plan on doing just that.”
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