Interning with the Bates College Museum of Art
With my fall semester as an intern for the Bates College Museum of Art completed and the year 2016 behind us, I would like to start this post with acknowledging just how amazing the staff of the museum is and how much of a difference their presence and personality made on my internship. Many thanks to Anthony, Bill, Corie, and Dan for their guidance and for everything they give, which is everything!
Working as the Collections Management/Communications intern this past semester, I learned about the important and tedious behind the scenes operations that allows the museum to provide an art and cultural education to the students of Bates College and to the larger Maine community.
Working as a Collections Management Intern is not the most glamorise position: behind the scenes, always inputting data, committed to work that is entirely repetitive. The grind of it gets to the individual. However, taking a step back from the position allows oneself to remain focused on why the work is crucial. The art owned by the Museum would in large remain inaccessible without the important work done by the Collections Management position. The position is in charged with documenting the location of the art work, its condition, its value, a brief description, etc. and then digitizing it in order to make it accessible. The documentation of the work allows physical access to the visitors of the Bates College Museum of Art by informing its staff as to the accessibility of the art piece and its exact location within the Museum vault or its off-site storage facility. In addition, the digitizing of the work allows individuals who are interested in the art owned by the museum to access it virtually even if they are not on campus.
The Communications Intern position was the space where I found myself using the most creativity and in turn having the most freedom. I sought new methods through which the Museum could increase the student foot traffic at its events. One such example was the amount of effort we committed to the lecture given by Darsie Alexander, who was one of the most vibrant and intellectually curious individuals I have ever met and have had the joy to talk to about art. Prior to her visit we instituted student to student communication in order to attain a larger audience. We found that when students reach out to students individually, students are more receptive of the message than when for example the director of the museum reaches out. As a result the more practice me and the other interns got at publicizing events on our own media platforms, the more traffic we saw at the museum events.
This past semester was a learning experience and I met incredible people who I hope to continue relationships with. I look forward with great anticipation for the rest of this semester and the rest of 2017! Wishing the museum nothing but the best. Look out for our future posts on the blog about other intern experiences.
Till then thank You,
José Luis Herrera
Studio Art & Politics