Jessica Gasbarre

Woman to Watch | Democrat and Chronicle | June 24, 2018

Sandy Sloane, Special to Rochester Democrat and Chronicle USA TODAY NETWORK

As the creator of the Memorial Art Gallery monthly DeTOUR℠ program, MAG’s engagement manager Jessica Gasbarre combines her love of art, creativity, relationship building, and education in an effort to expose the community to the museum’s collection.

“Our DeTOUR℠ programs are quirky, themed tours of the MAG where we pair art with topics that may not be directly related (like Harry Potter, the rules of hair care, yoga, movies, etc.). Relating to the theme of the month, we share fun facts about our artists, make personal connections to our art, and partake in museum shenanigans,” said Gasbarre describing the program. “My role is to change people’s perceptions about art and to get them to engage with the MAG; to think of art museums as places they can have fun, learn to relax, as well as be challenged and inspired. When visitors feel welcome and make personal connections to our collection, they will want to return.”

The idea for the DeTOUR℠ program at MAG was born after Gasbarre attended a Museum Hack boot camp in New York City where she learned how to use insider stories and fun activities in unconventional museum tours. She immediately wanted to replicate the program in Rochester. Coworker Meg Colombo nominated Gasbarre as a Woman to Watch citing how she single-handedly launched the DeTOUR℠ program and made it her own at MAG. Jessica’s enthusiasm and passion and the new programs she has spearheaded have exposed a wonderful new audience to the MAG.”

“Engaging people with the fun parts of the MAG bridges the gap between education and engagement. The name DeTOUR℠ says it all…you take a different route but in the end, you still arrive where you are supposed to, filled with information yet in a fun way!”


Download a PDF


Personal: 30, Rochester resident, single (but married to Leonardo DiCaprio in my mind).

Education: St. John Fisher College, Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Adolescence Education and Special Education, 2011; University of Rochester, Master of Arts in English, to be awarded later in 2018.

My recent work achievements: Spoke at the American Alliance of Museums Conference in Arizona about our growing DeTOUR℠ program; spoke at Museum Association of New York’s Conference about digital engagement.

My current community activities: Overall, I love to help promote all types of local art events to try to get them to the widest audience possible. Also, I’m working with RocMoto, a group of motorcycle enthusiasts to get to get them invested in viewing motorcycles as works of sculptural art.

I am currently reading: The Alienist, The Tipping Point, and The Love Letters of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning.

The biggest challenge I’ve overcome: Learning how to best manage stress is a constant challenge that I’m starting to get the hang of. Balancing a dream job that includes a lot of nights and weekend social events with the increasing demands of grad school, and relationships with friends and family is sometimes overwhelming. I’ve learned to say no to things, to ask for help and to make self-care a priority.

I’m inspired by: My mother Rosanna Gasbarre, who left the sun-kissed cobblestone streets of Naples, Italy, and moved to Rochester for love. She brought me to countless art museums as a kid, let me mix paint with my fingers and explore the realms of creativity. She read to me and encouraged me to be imaginative, to be kind, to have fun, and to set goals and work hard to achieve them.

My future goals: Personally, I would like to travel all over the world. Professionally, I would like to keep growing in the museum world and bring new programs to MAG to keep building our audience.

Career advise for someone just starting out: Make as many great connections as possible; build and maintain as many positive relationships as you can- relationships are instrumental to future success.

My guilty pleasure: Photoshopping Leonardo DiCaprio into a good portion of my pictures.

If I weren’t in my current job, I would be: Desperately finding a way to tap into the Rochester art community in some way!

My favorite inspiring quote: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Joran

Sandy Sloan is a Rochester-area freelance writer.