Was it not just yesterday that I was only applying for the internship that is soon ending? I recall the nervous feelings that came with awaiting an email from the Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) and the pure joy of actually receiving one. I feel thankful to have been given the opportunity to intern in such a highly regarded institution that, let’s face it, is also incredibly beautiful.
Reflecting back on my time at the Milwaukee Art Museum interning with the Satellite High School Program brings many valuable memories and thoughts to the surface. I’ve been privileged to have had the opportunity to work with dozens of bright, creative, and enthusiastic students from high schools around Milwaukee. Looking back on those weekly Thursday meetings, there are too many good times to mention. There were not so good times too–students having difficulty with final projects, frustrations with resume editing, and challenges giving tours to younger kids. These are the situations that make a pre-service teacher like me stronger; I was forced to come up with strategies for helping to work through student’s problems along with them in a way that was conducive to their unique learning styles.
When I told my Alverno College advanced media and journalism instructor that I was looking for an internship, she wasted no time connecting me with Chelsea Kelly, the Milwaukee Art Museum’s Manager of Digital Learning. I am not an Art Major or Education Major, but I knew immediately that I wanted to be Chelsea’s digital learning intern. I quickly learned that my CMT (Communication, Management and Technology) Major would definitely guide me for the tasks she had in mind.
I am interning for Chelsea while she is building a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course). These courses are available to anyone online, and the Museum received a special grant to develop a course. This one in particular was about getting to look at art in a different way. I know this must be shocking to hear from a Milwaukee Art Museum intern, but growing up my favorite form of art wasn’t actually paintings, sculptures or photography–it was dance. I had very little knowledge of art or its history, which actually made me the perfect candidate for interning for this MOOC: I love museums, but I never knew how to interpret it. Working on this MOOC has made me look at art differently.
For my internship with the Satellite High School program, Chelsea, my supervisor, let me organize the elementary school visits, where our teens taught much younger students about art in our collection. The teen interns work with students from Milwaukee Public Schools Community Learning Centers (CLCs) to introduce them to the Museum Collection and the feature exhibition. This was a challenging yet rewarding experience to manage!
As an upcoming art educator myself, I found I had to take into account different layers of teaching. I first only thought about the lesson I would teach to the teens–meaning I would show them what exactly we would be doing with the kids. But soon I realized the extra layer–that the teens would then be teaching the younger students. So essentially, I was teaching how to teach.
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.
I had the pleasure of being the Media Intern for the 4-week-long High School Internship Program at the Milwaukee Art Museum. As an Interactive Media Design and History major at Alverno College, being chosen to intern at such a beautiful place full of creativity, history, and passionate people was not only a great learning experience, but also a real treat for me.
This summer’s High School Internship Program was slightly different than how it had been in the past—it was part of the TED-Ed Clubs pilot program (TED-Ed is the educational side channel of TED Talks). As the Media Intern, it was my mission to film and edit a video directed by the 16 teens, which answered the question: “What are museums for?”
This summer, fourteen teens from 12 Milwaukee-area high schools came together to impact the present and future of museums.
Funded by the MPS Arts Internship Program through the Milwaukee Public Schools Recreation Department, these teens were paid museum studies interns for five weeks, going behind-the-scenes at the Museum, developing career skills, and helping the Museum in its day-to-day functions.
They also thought about two framing questions over the course of the program: Where and how do I see myself in the Museum? And: what do museums of the future look like?
There’s so much to say about what the teens did this summer, but I think it would be better to let them speak for themselves. Check out the videos below!
Sometimes, when I feel overwhelmed or lost in my own career trajectory, I remind myself that I have paid some serious dues to get my sensibly-heeled foot in the door of the museum world.
I licked envelopes at the Hudgens Center for the Arts in Georgia when I was a moody, but somewhat artistic high school junior. Soon after I interned at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, where my duties included tasks for registrar Frances Francis and helping with family programming for H. Nickels B. Clark (apologies if I have gotten the spellings wrong- it was a LONG time ago).
Another great internship followed the High Museum, I got to work at the Musée du Petit Palais in Geneva, Switzerland while studying abroad. My memories are vague–did I really try to translate French visitor guides into English using my remedial high school language skills? Did I really try to help conserve Karl Gotsch artworks by carefully moving works on paper off of acidic mats to prevent horrible speckling? One thing sticks: My friends were doing political internships at NGOs, curing cancer, and saving the world, but I felt just as meaningful working with art all day in one of the most incredible cities in the world.
What I mean to say about my internships is that they changed my life, and I know I’m not alone.
Since Easter is Sunday, I thought it would be fitting to write an Easter-themed blog post for the occasion. But other than choosing a piece of art depicting the crucifixion of Christ, I wasn’t exactly sure how I could approach the topic.
Therefore in the spirit of Easter egg hunts I have decided to make a two-fold hunt of my own to find out more about pieces in the Museum’s collection as well as creating a post that is related to the holiday.
Let’s use a little game by the name of “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” (or more simply “Six Degrees of Separation”) to relate a non-Easter-themed work of art to the holiday!
This past semester, I was fortunate enough to have a talented, dedicated art education student named Jessica Janzer interning as a teaching assistant for the Satellite High School Program. Jessica worked hard every Thursday and Friday on all of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into creating a program, and also taught one of the sessions. As part of her internship, she wrote the below blog post reflecting on the program. I’m thrilled that Jessica will continue to intern with me in the spring semester, too! –Chelsea Kelly, School & Teacher Programs Manager
The Milwaukee Art Museum. To most, the Museum is a beautiful and almost untouchable place – a place of high class and good taste, and of course, it is also Milwaukee’s most attractive asset. When I saw an internship opening there, I promptly jumped on the opportunity. The fact that I would be working at the Museum excited me, but I was intrigued even further when I learned it would be in the Education Department!