Summer Internship at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Georgia

Over summer break, I was given the opportunity to complete an internship at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Georgia, as a part of the Collections department. During my internship, I worked with Ms. Stacey Savatsky, the head of the Collections department, and a team of four other interns. Under her supervision, I, along with my other interns, did research on the artists who MOCA GA exhibits, helped organize the permanent collection, worked at the front desk, and learned how to handle contemporary art. I also helped complete condition reports for the art of Larry Walker, and most importantly, helped deinstall and install exhibits in the public museum itself. I gained many skills during this period, and soon recognized the need to think on your feet in museum curation to prevent catastrophe. One example of this was when the A/C broke in the art vault. There were many pieces which needed to be kept at a cool temperature, so we (the interns) were tasked with setting up many fans to circulate cool air in the vault, in the hour it took the A/C repairman to fix the main problem.

This internship helped me gain much-needed experience in museum work and exhibition design and see the inner workings of museums themselves. I also got to meet and work with several key figures in the Atlanta museum scene, such as Ms. Annette Cone-Skelton, the director of MOCA GA. As I hope to pursue a career in museum curation, the connections I made in the Atlanta art and museum scene and experience I gained at MOCA GA will help me set a manageable and possible career path. While I will always cherish the time I had at MOCA GA, I hope that it will provide a useful stepping stone as I pursue internships at larger museum institutions and apply for Museum Studies graduate programs.

 

Related Art History Learning Outcomes:

  • Take responsibility for direction of education; articulate areas of future development or inquiry).
  • Embrace experiential learning and take responsibility for education (attend events at the Dalton Gallery or other campus events; participate in activities off-campus with artists, galleries, museums, and other venues; connect with the larger art world regionally, nationally, and internationally; articulate paths for future development of individual research).

Exhibition Processes

As one of my classes for spring of 2018, I participated in Exhibition Processes. During this class, my classmates and I worked in Dalton Gallery to learn about designing and installing exhibitions. We worked all but one of the shows for the spring semester, hanging art and cleaning the Dalton Gallery. Most importantly, as our midterm project, we designed and installed the annual Showing/Thinking exhibition. My group of four worked together to design and install an exhibition based on the research of Dr. Yvonne Newsome, one of Agnes Scott College’s Professors of Sociology. We focused on how growing up during the Civil Rights Era led to Dr. Newsome’s focus on intersectionality and inequality in the media. We also created several of the pieces of art in the exhibit, such as a quilt of the southeast United States which was embroidered with information on major Civil Rights events in the South. In the exhibit, we juxtaposed the quilt with one of Dr. Newsome’s lectures on the representation of African Americans in the media, portraits of Dr. Newsome’s inspirations, quotes from famous sociologist Audre Lorde and poet Maya Angelou, and a wardrobe with an “I AM A MAN” poster in it (Dr. Newsome’s clearest memory of the Civil Rights Movement was seeing her father put his poster in their wardrobe).

Not only did this class provide useful training in exhibition design and installation, it also helped me settle on my decision to go into Museum curation as a career. I am now able to focus in on museum work in my studies of Anthropology/Sociology and Art History. I believe that the experiences in my class helped me figure out where I need to focus in my exhibition design and museum training. I also think that my experience in the class was one of the reasons I received the opportunity to work at the Museum of Contemporary Art this summer. Going forward, I hope to use what I learned in this class as I pursue more internships in museums.