Some of my favorite rainy afternoons during my childhood were spent exploring the Milwaukee Art Museum. My family spent hours wandering through the halls – I would often stop and stare at a work, entranced by the interplay of colors or rich, varied textures, and then have to run and catch up with my parents. The experience always continued to inspire my brother and me for days afterwards, and we would spend our free time creating our own artworks or making up stories inspired by our favorite pieces.
As I grew older, I still tried to come to the museum as often as I could, but my visits become much more infrequent after I moved to the East Coast for college, pursuing an art history degree. Fortunately, I recently found myself with a free month in the early part of summer, and I knew without a doubt where I wanted to spend it: my hometown of Milwaukee. A chance contact with Manager of Digital Learning Chelsea Kelly opened up the possibility of an internship at MAM during this time, working with the Education Department to create new content for the Under the Wings Blog. I was absolutely thrilled: now I had the chance to spend time each week in a beautiful museum that I already knew and loved, learning about the inner workings of the organization and spending even more time exploring its excellent collection.
And explore I did – in even more ways than I anticipated. Tasked with writing several new blog posts each week, I often spent my mornings just as I had so many years ago: walking through the galleries and experiencing the art, and then returning (in this case, to my cubicle) to write about what moved me. Working in an art museum, I was fortunate to have a very easy solution to writer’s block: a simple five-minute stroll from my desk would take me into halls filled with powerful, evocative artworks. It certainly never took long for inspiration to strike!
Much of my time working with the blog was also devoted to creating a new series called “MAM Behind the Scenes.” The goal of this project was to showcase the many types of people who work behind the scenes to keep the museum running, from curators to comptrollers to security personnel. And, to be honest, I myself didn’t even know exactly what some of these positions entailed! So, it could not have been more perfect: not only did I get to sit down and chat with some very intelligent, interesting people about art, but I gained a thorough introduction to the wide range of positions that make up the field of museum work, as well.
As my internship comes to a close, and I begin to reflect upon my experience writing about the people and the art that make up the Milwaukee Art Museum, what I have come away with is an overarching sense of both diversity and unity. The museum is made up of an incredibly diverse array of staff, with a wide range of responsibilities, but each plays an integral role in how the Museum functions as a whole. The individuals themselves are each unique, with many different skill sets and a surprising number of hidden talents. However, they all share something in common: a passion for art, and a dedication to ensuring that this wonderful resource continues to be available to the public each and every day. Their passion ensures that the Milwaukee Art Museum is both a great place to work, and even more importantly, a truly world-class institution.