Author: Danielle Baxter
I interned at the University of Pittsburgh’s Art Gallery (UAG) under the guidance of Dr. Sylvia Rhor Samaniego, the Director and Curator of the UAG. Currently, the University Art Gallery is working on multiple different aspects to improve and rework, such as redesigning the website. To assist with this, I have been helping to create “pods”, or different academic themes that will be featured on the newly developed website. Each pod will highlight a group of artworks from the UAG collection. This will provide academic categories for the viewers of the website to be able to more easily navigate the collection online and find artwork. Some of the pods I have helped with creating dealt with women, and the landscapes of both rural and urban Pittsburgh. With my fellow interns at the UAG, I was able to help give feedback and some of my own thoughts on the pods they also were working on.
I found the landscape to be particularly interesting to research and write about. For this topic, I selected 6 artworks depicting both rural and urban landscapes of Pittsburgh and the surrounding region. The Pittsburgh landscape was particularly interesting to research and work on because each of the different locations offers a unique view into the history and evolution of the city and region of Western Pennsylvania. In each of the different locations, there are different and interesting stories told. This work allowed me to bring my own interest in history and apply it to my internship.
Another important part of my involvement with the University Art Gallery has been looking at how to expand accessibility and the use of social media platforms. The UAG has been looking at ways to make its physical space and the new website more accessible for all its visitors. I personally have found it very interesting to look at the aspects of accessibility and inclusivity. I have learned a lot of new aspects of creating information on posts for social media. I have learned how to add accessibility using language for alt text and descriptions of works of visual art. Also, we had discussed and made decisions on many different aspects of how to use social media as a tool for museum outreach. We have discussed the museum's responses on social media and facing the public about different social and political events happening in the United States. This internship has shown me how to view museums in a wider context of the cultural sector and allowed me to consider how museums have an impact on the world around them.
I have been able to see firsthand the decisions that the UAG makes and the ways in which the museum sector operates and works. A large part of my internship has been about connecting the collection and the UAG with social media and the students at Pitt. I have had a lot of amazing experiences and am very thankful for those I have had during my internship. I have learned so much and had new exciting experiences. I have been able to tailor my internship towards encompassing my own interests, such as with the academic pods I worked on for the website. I am really excited to see how the University Art Gallery will continue to expand and redevelop its website, and its social media presence.
Danielle Baxter, Museum Studies Intern at the University Art Gallery, Spring 2021