An Introduction to Curation: My Semester at The Frick Art Museum

Clayton: The Frick family's Pittsburgh home and our main attraction

 

An Introduction to Curation: My Semester at The Frick Art Museum

Museum Studies Intern at The Frick Pittsburgh - Spring 2016

Remember the first bit of your freshman year of high school when it felt like you couldn't get through the week without another teacher thrusting another aptitude test in your face? I must've taken at least 7 throughout the course of that year, but the only one that mattered was the one whose results introduced me to the word "curator" and claimed I'd be a good one. A google search was done, and about 2 minutes later, I knew what I wanted be when I grew up. Flash forward almost 6 years, and here I am, telling you about my experience as a curatorial intern this past semester. Funny how life works sometimes, right? 

Since January I have been fortunate enough to intern at the Frick Art and Historical Center in their Art Museum's curatorial department. I've been working under head curator, Sarah Hall, to help prepare and plan for the museum's upcoming exhibition,The Frick Collects, as well as its accompanying publication. The goal of this exhibition is to provide a deeper look into the museum's permanent collection to tell a more complete story of the Frick Collection, and to encourage it's continued growth. To achieve this, the curatorial office has been digging into forgotten corners of storage, and considering how to organize the galleries in order to effectively tell a story through the juxtaposition of objects that may not normally even be in the same building.

Throughout this process, I have been responsible for creating and updating object files as new objects are added or more information is required of old ones, writing and formatting gallery labels as well as tombstone texts, updating and adding to the object checklist that pertains to The Frick Collects publication, and creating the filemaker database also corresponding to the publication. The nature of this work has been very independent, allowing me to develop a sense of self-motivation in the workplace. In addition to the technical work I was doing, my site mentor, Sarah, encouraged me to exercise curatorial ways of thinking by asking me to prepare my own input on the exhibition's design, which I then presented to her, and to find possible additional objects that I believed would be assets to the exhibition. 

Even though,The Frick Collects has been the primary focus of my position, during my time at the Frick I have been involved in various stages of three different exhibition. From installation to filing to research, this internship has had it all. I've been able to apply and improve skills gained through past professional experiences to my work, while gaining and becoming adept at new skills pertaining to curation.

This experience has been an invaluable asset to my Museum Studies program, and I would reccommend it to everyone interested in museums, a career in the arts, or arts management. Moving forward, I am excited by the prospect of applying to more positions with my resume updated to reflect this experience. This internship has given me the skills and confidence necessary to keep chasing my dream job, so that in another 6 years I can look back and once again say, "funny how life works sometimes, right?"

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