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Jacobson, Lori

Published onMar 12, 2021
Jacobson, Lori

Lori Jacobson, 2017

Commissioned by University Museums. U2017.118

LORI JACOBSON (BS ’80 history, BA ’80 advertising design) followed her passion for work in the museum world, learned as a student employee at University Museums, and directs her own Los Angeles consulting firm that specializes in museum planning.

Jacobson, who grew up in the Story County community of Roland, said Iowa State was “familiar and highly appealing” as her college of choice. However, a part-time job while a student launched Jacobson’s career.

“Once I learned about and was hired as a part-time student employee by Iowa State’s University Museums at the end of my second year, I was smitten by the museum world in a way that changed my life,” Jacobson said.         

“Thanks to Director Lynette Pohlman’s stellar mentoring and training, I found and followed a career path that took me to Texas and ultimately Los Angeles, where I live with my husband Jason.” She has remained a member of University Museums for more than four decades.

She formed her current company in 2013, offering project management and planning for museums. Her experience includes 15 years as director of THINK Jacobson & Roth, a company that organized and facilitated custom teams to plan and build interactive exhibits. Jacobson’s firm completed interpretive planning projects and/or exhibits for El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park, Nevada State Museum in Las Vegas, the LA County Natural History Museum (including Marine Hall, Diorama Halls, and Thomas the T. Rex Conservation Lab), Alf Museum of Paleontology, and the Goleta Valley Historical Society, among others.

Prior to co-founding THINK, Jacobson was project manager at a California-based firm whose 20-member team developed exhibitions for the new Golden State Museum at the California State Archives in Sacramento. Her responsibilities included identifying, hiring, and overseeing the work of guest curators and devising a plan for collecting 800 historical and cultural artifacts for the exhibits.

Jacobson also was executive director of the Western Museums Association, a nonprofit group serving 1,000 museum professionals in the nine western states of the United States. She was Assistant Museum Educator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Curator of Collections at the McAllen International Museum in McAllen, Texas.

Jacobson managed the development of Iowa State University Museum’s newest book, Campus Beautiful: Shaping the Aesthetic Identity of Iowa State University, published in 2015.

“I’ve always believed that the ideal in life is to ‘work hard and play hard,’ enjoying time with friends and family throughout – time spent on a walk or a hike, savoring a good meal and/or conversation, or enjoying  quieter moments,” Jacobson said. “The all-important added component is to pay it forward to others where possible through positive encounters and service.”

Jacobson passed away in 2018. Jacobson, through her estate, established the Lynette Pohlman Student Mentoring Scholarship Fund, which supports the Lynette Pohlman Museum Fellowship. The goal of the Fund is to provide a one-on-one mentoring experience at the University Museums to selected undergraduates to enable them to develop the knowledge and training required for continued education, and to secure a career, in the flourishing museum field.

When making a gift to establish the Lori A. Jacobson Gallery of the Brunnier Art Museum to honor his late wife, Jason Kogan captured her best as he wrote that Lori was, “A beautiful spirit with matching smile, kind, warm, caring, gentle, optimistic, inspiring, always grateful and looked only for good in others.”

Director and Chief Curator of University Museums, Lynette Pohlman: Lori’s professional beginnings lie with University Museums, and her professional contributions have informed and shaped the museums evolution.  Assisting with the strategic vision of the Christian Petersen Art Museum, to project managing Campus Beautiful, and conducting student engagement research, she remains, even after passing, highly impactful to University Museums.

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