Behind the Scenes Curatorial Education

Help Us Prototype Your Museum Experience

Signage that says 'Help us prototype your museum experience'

At the entrance to the permanent collection galleries at the Milwaukee Art Museum, you’ll find something new as of December 2013: what we affectionately call in-house our “Prototyping Pedestal.”

So what exactly is it?

Art Behind the Scenes

Advice and Praise for Museum Interns

Visitor Services Intern working at the Kahler Information Desk. Photo by Nell Rae.
Volunteer Program Intern Gwen working at the Kahler Information Desk. Photo by Nell Rae.

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.

Behind the Scenes Curatorial

What Does It Mean To “Curate”?

Pin board of a Milwauke Art Museum Curator. Photo by Mel Buchanan.

Although I try very hard not to bring work home with me, sometimes (okay, most of the time) I can’t help it. I just love museums, and so I often find myself thinking about them after 5 p.m.

Something I’ve been mulling over for a while is the use of the word “curate, and how the phrase has become a buzzword around the world wide web. What does the word “curate mean in popular language—and more importantly, what does it mean for museum professionals that this word is being re-appropriated?