7 thoughts on “Gallery Diving: Interns Tackle Public Engagement”

  1. As an art history major, I have often been told to think about art in an academic and information-focused way. It was really exciting to learn from Mike about how various museums were subverting this traditional stance in favor of one that engages an audience in a meaningful way. I must confess that I had many doubts in the process of how successful this kind of learning would be. My change in attitude happened while putting our project into action. The excitement that our participants felt was the same that I have always felt when studying art. We were able to convey to others the joy of art in a way that reached them on a new level! The overall outcome of all our projects was to connect people to objects in a personal way, one with a truly human connection.

  2. I really appreciate this internship. What I learn most out of it is how art can relate to and how IMPORTANT it is to relate art to the lives of the public. I have been viewing slides, listening to lectures about famous works and period styles, reading and writing a lot about art in art history classes all the time. But the experience at SLAM opened a new window for getting involved with art: through experiencing, imagining, even creation yourself! This means a more friendly and personal way to meet with the specific art work, and really starting to THINK about it/them. Through inviting museum visitors to participate and collecting their responses, we came to realize how important it is to know how people wish to connect to the works, and more importantly, how they wish to connect with each other! This internship also addresses the notion that museum is a public place and people are welcome to create their own unique, CREATIVE museum experience as long as it does not harm the safety and well-being of the museum, the people in it and the exhibits. The museum can and should be creative, and PEOPLE are the most important factor in reaching this target. (Sicong Zhu)

  3. Currently I am a Graduate Student majoring in Photography and Educational Technology. I believe that the internship at the Saint Louis Art Museum opened my eyes to new and creative ways that I could engage my future students (especially with art that they didn’t like immediately).

    It was extremely beneficial to work with so many people from different majors and experiences, and it was great to translate all of our backgrounds into such neat projects in community engagement. Although I wish the internship would have lasted a bit longer, it gave me energy to push my educational projects forward, and try things that are new and unexpected.

  4. Yikes, sorry this is so late! I just started grad school for museum studies and I think this internship was the perfect prelude. Mike encouraged us to think about museum experiences creatively, and was very supportive of ideas that were surprising and fun. This was a great atmosphere to work in. Even though the process of putting our ideas into practice was sometimes frustrating and laborious, it was great that everybody involved was so positive and excited about making things work.

    The project I worked on involved story-writing based on different works in one of the galleries. I was worried that it would be a little too involved and that visitors would not want to take the time to participate, but there were many who did so eagerly. Even if they didn’t stick around for the whole workshop, several people grabbed journals and wrote stories on their own. One family with several young school-age children seemed to really enjoy the activity; I saw the kids curled up on the floor in front of one painting, writing furiously, which I thought was really cool. My takeaway is similar to Sicong’s – that many museum visitors really want to engage with art in deeper ways than they have been, and they like to engage with each other in a museum setting. The people I observed responded positively to new and different experiences in a traditional art museum. I hope to continue to pursue this kind of engagement with visitors in my future museum work.

  5. This internship was awesome! I learned so much from all of the interns’ projects and the activities we did in the galleries. One of my favorite parts of the experience was on the last day when we had three events– an open dance rehearsal, a public talk on museum education, and a poetry reading– one after another in the same gallery. It was amazing to see the way the space and the modern art in the gallery seemed to transform over the course of the afternoon. I also got to experience “failing forward” with the (somewhat disastrous) ballet workshop I led. From the beginning of our project design process, I really wanted organize a ballet class in the gallery but was scared this idea seemed silly. One of our final meetings was full of creative activities and inspirational quotes that convinced me to commit to doing the project at the last minute. After the ballet workshop, one of the other interns and museum staff members, Kay, commented that she had never laughed so much in the museum before. I learned that having fun in the museum is a good thing and that it’s important to take silly ideas seriously. Mike also danced with the visitors and asked a question during the discussion that helped me see Degas from a completely new perspective. Thanks so much! I hope to go to graduate school for education and someday work on programs that are as inspiring and supportive as this internship!

  6. Thanks to each intern for adding their perspective here. I really miss the program, and just loved having the opportunity to take some risks and play in the museum. I hope that other museums develop similar internship programs that allow for creative exploration and reflective thinking about what museums are here for — what keeps them relevant in today’s society. We need as many emerging professionals as possible to provide museums with a fresh perspective.

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