Index of Medieval Art

Index Spotlight Series: Brooke Jurgenson

This blog post is the ninth in a series focusing on members of the Index staff. Today we introduce our student worker Brooke Jurgenson.

What year are you in your Princeton education? What are some of your favorite courses or subjects?

I am a second-year student in the Class of 2026. I intend to declare psychology as my major, but I also love philosophy, literature, and art history. My first year, I really enjoyed the Western Humanities Sequence, which traced the development of the Western intellectual tradition through such foundational works as Augustine’s Confessions and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This semester, I am bridging my interests in psychology and philosophy with the course “The Psychological Foundations of the Mind” and branching out into linguistics by taking “On the Origins and Nature of the English Language.”

A woman with long brown hair standing in front of a stone wall. In the background, architectural ruins, a tree, and buildings.
Brooke Jurgenson visiting the Acropolis in Athens, Greece in October 2023.

What do you do at the Index?

At the Index, I go through different iconographic categories, such as Virgin Mary, Dormition and Christ, Presentation, and add subjects to make the categories more comprehensive and accessible for researchers. For instance, I might add the subject tags “Joseph the Carpenter,” “Anna the Prophetess,” and “Dove” to all the records containing this imagery in scenes of the Presentation of Christ. I also collaborate with the Index research staff on refining the subject taxonomy and applying it more widely to records.

Aside from your experience at the Index, what was the most interesting job or internship you had?

In addition to fostering a love of medieval art at the Index, I have learned much about Princeton’s modern sculpture collection by serving as a Student Art Tour Guide with the Princeton University Art Museum. I lead small group tours around Princeton’s campus, highlighting the subtleties of Henry Moore’s bronze craftsmanship and Jacques Lipchitz’s mysterious abstractions.

What have you learned about medieval art since working for the Index? Has anything surprised you, or does anything stand out as extraordinary or curious about medieval art?

I absolutely love medieval art! Beautiful florals, ornate Latin scripts, gold pigments, and captivating renditions of the Virgin Mary and Christ Child regularly grace my screen. My appreciation for medieval art has grown immensely, and I have come to recognize just how rich and varied the subject area is.

I also never fail to come across the most mysterious and fun “hybrid creatures.” It is only here that I stumble across cats playing hurdy-gurdies and half-dragons slaying monsters. Medieval art truly expands your imagination.

A rectangular card painted with the text “The Index of Medieval Art” within an elongated diamond frame and surrounded by red, yellow, and blue floral ornament and scrolls. Plant leaves in the background.
Jurgenson’s medieval-inspired floral art made for the Index, which was directly inspired by Index records!

Do you have a favorite work of art or favorite place you’ve visited?

This past summer, I took a somewhat impromptu trip to Berlin and visited the Bode Museum. I reveled in the amazing Byzantine collection there. Aside from medieval art, I enjoy Impressionism because of how it captures the ephemeral. My favorite work (as of right now) is Claude Monet’s “View of Vétheuil” painted in 1880, now in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Accession number 56.135.1).

What’s your favorite building or spot to sit on campus?

When it is warm outside, I love sitting on a bench in the garden behind Maclean House while reading. It is the perfect place to listen to the birds sing and feel the serenity of nature. I also love gazing at the stained glass windows of the Princeton University Chapel, watching the colorful dances of light play out in the sacred space.

Coffee or tea?

I avidly drink both coffee and tea, but I am a tea lover by heart. A steaming cup of freshly brewed green tea is all I need to be content.