Internship Summaries

Isabella Leon, Laguna Art Museum, Advancement Department Internship W and S 20

I interned with Bernadette Clemens, Director of Advancement at the Laguna Art Museum, where I was able to work with the developmental department and participate in visitor services, events, and sponsorship. Everyone in the department did a wonderful job of providing insight on why each task was important so that I could better learn and understand the responsibilities and impact of each project. They provided a wonderful and welcoming environment and were always eager to answer any questions.

I mainly focused on donor and sponsor relations, which came with a variety of tasks from solicitation, events, and organization within the database. Over the course of the internship I was able to learn how to properly utilize the database (Altru), and helped expand the museum’s Prospect coding. I was also able to work and experience their California Cool Art Auction and an exhibit opening. These events and the experience in general gave me a much better understanding of how a museum runs and the different career paths within each department. I was able to hear from every department exactly what role each person served and the different career paths they took to get where they are. It opened my eyes in terms of learning the variety of opportunities and careers available within a museum other than a research or curator position. The entire experience was rewarding and enjoyable, it only further inspires me to pursue a career within a museum.
Hania Hendrickson Laguna Art Museum (LAM) Internship/Award W and S20:

As an intern for Marinta Skupin, the Curator of Education at the Laguna Art Museum, I had the wonderful opportunity to learn about and be involved in the behind-the-scenes action of a historical and established museum. Working with the Education Department, I spent most of my time advancing the museum’s program records. I researched future program speakers, catalogued community outreach data, and assisted with the preparation for weekly events with local schools. My largest project was updating the Docent Training Manual to reflect the new exhibitions presented by the museum. With this project, I was able to learn about the curation process as well as the background of each artwork in the new exhibition. During my internship, I also had the amazing opportunity to assist with Laguna Art Museum’s California Cool Art Auction. I was able to see first hand how different departments worked together to produce such a successful event. Participating in the auction also provided me with further insight into the career possibilities present to an art history major like myself. Interning at the Laguna Art Museum was both an enjoyable and educational experience that gave me a stronger understanding of the art museum world.

Arina Lurie Laguna Art Museum (LAM) Internship/Award W and S20:

As an intern for Tim Campbell, Collections registrar at the Laguna Art Museum, I was able to delve further into the history behind paintings than I ever have before. I spent most of my time going through the old collections documents and files and digitizing them.

There were folders with information and photographs from the 1800s up to now. Being able to see the behind the scenes of how museums acquire artworks and the documentation and research efforts required was very insightful. I appreciated being trusted with delicate and old documents; it was fascinating to be able to get up close and personal with these papers. I spent much of my time transferring these documents into electronic form as well as organizing files, paper documents, and doing some light research into old newspaper articles about future exhibitions. Learning how to work the online database of art and how to edit the records was confusing at first but it became like second nature as I worked more. I also spent time with Tim, finalizing documents for the latest exhibits, determining the positioning and order of paintings in the Travels in Mexico exhibition, as well as even getting to go to the Bowers museum and look in their vault as a painting acquisition was finalized.

In addition, I was able to tag along with the art handling crew, on occasions, as well as work with the art conservator Victoria, assessing and documenting the conditions of artworks. I really enjoyed and appreciated being able to work in an environment where questions were encouraged and everyone was open to talking about their experiences, making it much easier for me to figure out what other realms of museum work I would like to learn more about.

Iris Chuan Special Collections and Archives Internship W20: As an intern for Derek Quezada, the Outreach and Public Services Librarian at the Special Collections and Archives in Langson Library, I assisted in the overall process of putting together an exhibit on artist books with East Asian influence. This process included researching all available resources available to us, brainstorming ideas for themes as well as publicizing, and putting those ideas into action through making advertisements and writing descriptions for all the artworks. I learned the overall process of curating an exhibit and the different elements that need to be considered in planning it all. I was able to develop skills in researching and organizing artworks as well as communicate and cooperate with a small group of people to visualize our exhibit. It was very exciting having access to the Special Collections and Archives and being able to physically touch these artist books as many of them relied on more than just the visual sense but also the tactical sense.

Zoe Portnoff Unpaid internship Award at the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) W20: "As an Education Resource Center intern at the Seattle Art Museum, I updated library catalogue information using OCLC (Online Computer Library Center) and created new educational materials such as family gallery guides. I chose to intern here because I had never worked in a large museum before, and I wanted to learn more about career opportunities in art institutions. I assisted in various education events, such as community art projects in the Olympic Sculpture Park and teacher conferences at the museum. I had the opportunity to learn about the different departments within the museum, visit the conservation department and work with volunteers at the information desk. I learned art education strategies for students K-12 and improved the Education Resource Center’s outreach and online accessibility. My work cataloguing original resource guides created by the SAM proved particularly rewarding, as a greater number of educators were able to access the guides and request them for their classrooms. I also had the chance to explore the SAM’s art collection and exhibitions during every shift, and thus I was able to take a closer and more detailed look at the works on display."

Risa Ogiwara Laguna Art Museum (LAM) Internship/Award S/Su19: Risa interned with Bernadette Clemens (Director of Advancement). She learned Altru (a cloud-based museum management tool for tracking donations), created a spreadsheet of prospective donors for future Galas, auctions, and/or new exhibitions, assisted Sara Gale (Events and Development Manager) with their biggest fundraising event of the year, and helped Leilani Yamanishi (Visitor Services and Membership Manager and UCI Art History Alum and past FOAH award recipient) with membership management tasks. Risa appreciated the opportunity to gain exposure to, and experience with, the various people and departments and the knowledge she gained in how museums raise funds to support their programs. She also enjoyed a Q&A developed by Kristen Anthony (Education Associate) that introduced the interns to the museum staff, who shared details about their career paths with interns.

Celeste Armenta Su18/Su19 LAM: Celeste enjoyed being part of a “hands-on” department with Collections and Curatorial Department Registrars Tim Campbell and Dawn Minegar summer 2019. She assisted with preparations for upcoming exhibitions, “working with the very intimidating database, delivering a painting to its owner, and going to the museum’s off site storage unit to pick out art pieces.” She “frequently tagged along with Tim and the crew members and got to physically work with the paintings; learned how to install a painting, how to light it, how to handle the art work, how to transport and store them, how to track and label them among so much more.” She enjoyed attending two of the exhibition openings for which she had assisted, John Baldessari’s “I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art” , and Gwynn Murrill’s “Sculptures” . She helped Dawn with shipping and writing condition reports for the artwork being shipped out and shipped in, assisted with installations, unpacked artworks and documented the processes.

Celeste writes that “Tim was a great mentor”, assisting her in learning how to work with the database and creating “a 60 page detailed handbook that made the process so easy” when she began working with the database. She writes “working with the database was so rewarding. I went in knowing nothing about them and by the end, I was very confident with what I was doing. Even though not all institutions use the same databases, I feel much more comfortable working with them in the future.”

Celeste interned Summer 2018 with Curator of Education Marinta Skupin conducting research and putting together a curriculum guide for Educators Night, to which teachers are invited to view the museum’s current exhibit, followed by a lecture on how the exhibition can relates to California’s school standards (helpful for educators planning a field trip to the museum). Celeste began by familiarizing herself with the exhibit, reviewing the art, the catalog produced by Janet Blake (Curator of Historical Art) and 3rd and 4th grade California standards, then compared art subjects and topics to the standards. She reviewed all the art in the exhibition and selected six paintings for their compatibility with the most standards, then researched the artworks. She included the paintings and its labels such as title, date, medium, etc. and background information on the painting, artist, the standards the art correlated to, and a pre or post activity the teacher could provide their students. The packet Celeste became a template for future Educator Nights.

Celeste noted “Marinta was a very gracious and wonderful supervisor who did all she could to help me gain the most from the position” and “gained a great understanding of how, not only the Education department works, but how closely each department works together to arrange all aspects of the museum.”

Sebastian Sarti  OCMA Internship/Award F18/W19: worked with curators developing public events and preparing for a new exhibition. He worked with docents on their tours, developed materials for new and upcoming programs, and produced an audio tour for an upcoming exhibit, which included designing a map and recording artists discussing their artwork. Much of Sebastian’s work consisted of research and interactions with outside sources to expand and enrich the museum and help the curatorial staff.

Sebastian wrote his internship ‘helped him to better understand inter-social relationships within a professional working space outside of school, manage multiple tasks throughout the day, and revise useful workplace strategies within a working space to use when dealing with unexpected challenges.’

Chuman Zhang Orange County Museum of Art (OCMA) Internship/Award F18/W19: wrote that her internship experience was ‘an incredible journey’ for her and felt that ‘everyone in the OCMA team helped her to understand the idea of working in a museum, and gave her many opportunities to be part of the project and to interact with the artists.’ She worked with both curators and the public engagement team during her internship on a variety of projects throughout her six-month internship, learning how curators and public engagement interacts with, and engages in conversation with, artists, museum docents and children from the local school, and applied what she learned in her internship work.

Chuman conducted research for OMCA’s permanent collection and Season Two Exhibition, researched artists for future exhibitions, and assisted in producing public programs, including OC Cinema, artists performances and school programs. Her research topics included West Coast leading artists featured in the Season Two Exhibition for which she studied their artistic concepts, organized their past press releases, and found significant accomplishments and little-known facts. This ‘taught her to be organized, filter out non-important ideas with efficiency and turn information into detail-intensive factual and educational material.’

She assisted the public engagement team for the Season Two opening; drafting an invitation letter, editing guest lists, mailing out invitations and helping prepare the event space, as well as with school tours, public programs, family days, artists talks, and book signings. Chuman created an information web page for museum docents, interacted with the artists, helped with installation, and participated in OCMA’s many public programs.

Chuman felt the most beneficial aspect for her was the opportunity to be on the curatorial team from preparation to production of the Season Two Exhibition, seeing first-hand how ideas and artwork become a real exhibition. She wrote her  ‘internship was truly an inspiration for her future career and a turning point for her research. She did not know much about contemporary art before she came to OCMA, where she found her passion for contemporary art. Her OCMA internship inspired her to study modern and contemporary art market in graduate school.’