Throughout the year, the National Portrait Gallery welcomes interns from all over the United States to participate in the daily operations of professional museum work. Providing invaluable support to a wide variety of departments and projects, interns in turn receive unique experiences and a new cadre of professional skills. As summer 2009 comes to a close, we present a brief selection of their impressions:
Caitlin Swindell, Center for Electronic Research and Outreach Services:
I learned a great deal about how art museums operate… My work incorporated entering data onto The Museum System, our gallery database, scanning and cropping a number of images from many galleries and museums, as well as responding to research requests and public inquiries. As a result I have learned a variety of skills that I know will prove to be useful later on in the work place and in life.
Maggie Crosland, Department of Painting and Sculpture:
From day one I have felt not only welcomed but also that the entire NPG staff genuinely enjoys the interns and appreciates their work. My supervisors on the [Outwin Boochever] Portrait Competition have gone out of their way to include me in as many elements of the project as possible. I have never had a more career directing experience and at the end of two summers here I have a much clearer sense of what it is I want to do after I graduate.
Teresa Adams, Design and Production Intern:
I have enjoyed my internship this summer. I have learned a lot about how the text for shows is installed and de-installed. I enjoyed helping to install the Thomas Paine show and de-installing the Duchamp show. This internship has been an eye-opener for me into the inner workings of the museum world.
Kendra Sykes, Department of History:
My summer in DC has been one of the most rewarding of my life... Besides conducting really great research, I was able to learn so much more about various museum professions and what they entail by talking with my supervisor as well as other staff at the NPG. I also learned that the execution of an exhibition requires a lot of work and time. I feel that my internship project was especially unique because I was able to work with material that was not always readily available—such as retrieving LIFE magazines from the Concourse—and this made my research all the more rewarding. I will truly miss it here at the NPG and I can’t wait to see the finished product of this exhibition!
Valerie Egan, Department of Education:
My internship with the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has proven to be an invaluable professional experience. As I enter the arts and cultural sector, the NPG staff has welcomed every opportunity to discuss their positions, career paths and provide professional guidance and resources. I count myself very lucky to have benefited from the unique resources of Washington DC and the Smithsonian Institution.
More information about the National Portrait Gallery's internship program is available on the museum's website, including an application form.
Top photo, left to right: NPG Director Martin Sullivan, Ashley Holmes, Brooks Swett, Erica Cottam, Mike Maizels, Christopher Sutton, and Lyrica Taylor.
Bottom photo, left to right: Rachael Penman, Brittany Sigley, Maggie Crosland, Catherine Swindell, Teresa Adams, Valerie Egan, Amy Lowman, Kendra Sykes, and Internship Program Manager Leni Buff.