Linnea Hodge (WCAS ’17) is an Art History student pursuing a minor in Theatre. Thanks to a SIGP 2015 grant, she spent this summer interning at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. She hopes to work in arts administration, ideally in the museum field.
First off, I appreciated how short and sweet my internship search was! I had become familiar with and fond of the Block Museum after taking a class on museology from three of its directors, so I thought I would explore this avenue of gaining valuable museum experience. After a few meetings with the Engagement Manager at the Block Museum my summer plans were confirmed. So don’t discount opportunities on campus, ‘cats.
The Engagement Department (where I worked) is concerned with community outreach and programming geared to on- and off-campus audiences. For most of the summer the museum showed an exhibition called The Last Supper: 600 Plates Illustrating Final Meals of U.S. Death Row Inmates. This exhibition was fascinating in terms of community engagement because the death penalty can be a polarizing issue. I got to see first-hand how the Block’s programming serves as a community forum for productive discussion of complex issues.
On a day-to-day level I managed the museum’s tour program, because the Engagement Coordinator had recently returned to graduate school. I acted fairly independently as liaison between docents and tour groups to schedule visits; I even had a chance to plan a lesson for high school aged students from Barcelona. I was happy to feel I was fulfilling a need in the organization as I covered various duties of the Engagement Coordinator.
I also had several long-term projects, including building an outreach list for the next exhibition and coordinating the production of promotional posters for the Block. However, my favorite project was planning a Wildcat Welcome event for new students. The Engagement staff was interested in my input as a student, so I proposed an idea for the event. They loved it, so from then on I was working independently to make it happen. I had worked at Block outreach events before, but planning one was still new to me and very exciting. I learned to develop a marketing scheme, articulate staffing needs, and organize all other aspects of this event. I also had a chance to select Warhol works from the museum’s collection for a small exhibition.
I’m looking forward to hearing about how the event goes, as I’ll be studying abroad when it happens. It’s an honor to be able to introduce new students to great visual art and campus resources simultaneously. Completing the project really fortified my belief that providing access to art is a public service. It felt great to be trusted with this kind of project, and this experience taught me that you should share with your coworkers if you have an idea you are excited about. Others might like it as well, but you’ll never know if you don’t speak up.