For as long as I can remember, I have loved museums. Growing up, I begged my parents to take us to art museums whenever we would go on vacation, and I adored the public art and murals in my hometown of Stevens Point. Some of my earliest and fondest memories are of our family trips to the Art Institute of Chicago, one of my all-time favorite museums and one particularly dear to me now that I go to school at Loyola University Chicago.
I first became aware of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum as a junior in high school, when I had a colored-pencil drawing included in the Student Art Exhibition. I came back a few times afterward, but it wasn’t until I saw The World According to Federico Uribe exhibition last summer that I decided to pursue an internship.
Interning at the Woodson Art Museum this summer has been an amazing experience. It’s exactly what I hoped for, as I try to decide what career path to pursue. I’ve had opportunities to do a little bit of everything at the Museum, working on various tasks, and experiencing what it is like to work at an established art museum.
So far, most of my time has been working with Jane Weinke, curator of collections. We’ve been scanning images from the collection to replace the database’s slide images (taken before I was even born), inspecting artworks for the upcoming Birds in Art exhibition as they arrive, and working to maintain collection artwork in storage.
One of my favorite assignments was assisting with the installation of the summer exhibitions, Botanical Art Worldwide: America’s Flora and Flora, Fauna, Font: Illustrating the Alphabet. Installation week was filled with new experiences: packing up the Cut Up/Cut Out exhibition to ship to the next location, assembling the incredible greenhouse designed by Shannon Pueschner and constructed by Dave Jones to complement Botanical Art Worldwide, and coming up with a layout for the illustrations and materials in Flora, Fauna, Font. It was such a busy and exciting week; I could hardly wait to see all the artworks installed and the labeling and lighting details finished.
Along with my work with Jane, I have helped curators of education Catie Anderson and Lisa Hoffman with the Museum’s outreach program, taking art projects to area elementary schools to connect kids with this summer’s botanical art exhibitions. From tissue-paper flowers and sticker gardens to crayon rubbings and collages with the students, it’s been a lot of fun working with and encouraging kids to visit the Woodson Art Museum and continue making art.
I also helped with the recent Summer Art Sessions, leading groups of elementary school students through the current exhibitions before heading out to the sculpture garden to create their own works of art. (I was particularly excited when I learned we were making cyanotypes, which I have always loved but never had the opportunity to try!)
I have worked with various daycare programs for almost five years and want to focus on community and school involvement in museums in the future, so combining my love for education with my passion for art has been wonderful.
Every time I go home, I continually tell my friends and my parents how excited and lucky I am to be spending my summer at the Woodson Art Museum. It’s been an incredible experience so far. I can hardly wait to see what the rest of my time here brings!