Author: Jamie Roncinske
Museum experiences are different for everyone. That is part of what makes a museum such an important venue of culture: where you experience art and learn about others, as well as yourself. I had the opportunity to experience a museum in an entirely new way through my work as a Museum Studies Intern at the University Art Gallery in the Fall of 2021.
My work at the University Art Gallery at the University of Pittsburgh opened the doors for me to learn about and participate in the vital work that goes into creating a valuable experience for museum visitors, focusing on the main exhibit of the semester; Women of Visions: Celebrating 40 Years. It also gave me the opportunity to experience many types of museum work that make a great exhibit possible. Under the guidance of Isaiah Bertagnolli, Graduate Assistant at the University Art Gallery, I aided in prepping gallery spaces for exhibits, sorting digital archives, welcoming and facilitating visitor experiences, as well as creating my own project in educational programming to foster meaningful interaction with the Women of Visions exhibit for students and visitors of all ages. My work at the University Art Gallery gave me a well-rounded experience of all the components that go on behind the scenes in creating and running an exhibit from beginning to end. I assisted in the preliminary work of painting walls and allocating gallery space for different works and was given a space in conversations with professionals about how these factors have power to change the tone and meaning of an exhibit.
As the exhibit opened and I moved into work as a gallery attendant, I was able to practice valuable advice given by Sylvia Rhor, University Art Gallery Director and Curator, about creating a welcoming and positive environment through interaction with museum visitors. Alongside my work in the gallery, I created three lesson plans for engagement with the Women of Visions exhibit to foster guided interaction with the exhibit as a whole as well as specific works. These lesson plans, based on educational programming research in museums, provide the framework for visitors of all ages to have guided engagement with the exhibit and gain experience deeply interacting with art in general, as well as highlighting the important and unique contributions of the artists’ collective, Women of Visions. My experience and interactions with museum spaces will forever be enriched by the knowledge I gained as an intern at the University Art Gallery, and I hope my work there has done the same for others.
Jamie Roncinske, Museum Studies Intern at the University Art Gallery, Fall 2021