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.