Internship Program Continues to Grow
On a summer morning, Nely Montina, a junior at Muhlenberg College and a summer intern at the Art Museum, stood in the galleries before a group of high school students gazing at Mickalene Thomas’s Le déjeuner sur l’herbe: Les trois femmes noires (2010). He described the photograph as a restaging of Édouard Manet’s iconic Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (1863) and soon sent the students out into the gallery to stage and photograph their own reinterpretations of European paintings on view.
The high schoolers were part of the Princeton University Preparatory Program (PUPP), a rigorous academic and cultural enrichment program that supports high-achieving, under-resourced high school students in the Princeton area. Montina, himself a graduate of the PUPP program, together with fellow intern Olivia Feale, a recent graduate of Smith College, devoted their summer internships to assisting with PUPP.
Since 2002, the Art Museum has held a paid summer internship program that places undergraduates and graduate students in departments across the institution. What the Museum did not have until this year was an effective strategy to inspire first-generation college students and students from underrepresented minority groups to apply for an internship or to consider careers in the museum field. Thus, to integrate a broader array of perspectives into the Museum, a new program—the Museum Voices Internship—was created to encourage diverse candidates to apply to the existing internship program.
This summer, a total of fourteen interns, including four Museum Voices interns, worked in a number of capacities in collections and exhibitions, education, information and technology, and publishing and communications. Danielle Garcia, a senior at the University of Florida, worked on this fall’s installation Making History Visible, which investigates how visual art contributes to the creation of America’s national historical narrative, while also developing content for the Museum’s website dedicated to public art on campus. Taryn Nie, a graduate student at Seton Hall, worked in information and technology to, in her words, “develop a lexicon for online searches” so that students, faculty, and visitors around the world can more easily and meaningfully access the collections.
Through projects like these, the summer interns are primarily situated within their departments or collection areas, but the internship also offers insight into the broader workings of the institution and into each other’s projects. A weeklong orientation introduces interns to the galleries, the collections, and the roles of staff members while raising questions about display, interpretation, and museum careers.
During weekly lunch meetings with curators and staff members, interns have additional opportunities to experience the Museum behind the scenes. This year, changes to the organization of the internship—combined with a particularly passionate group of students—stimulated lively dialogue and challenging questions about the state of art history and standards in museum practice. When the interns met with Museum director James Steward, for example, conversations ranged from the Museum’s strategic plan, to methods for including diverse perspectives on gallery labels, to salaries within the museum profession.
In the evenings, conversations became more informal in the dormitories. For the first time ever, all summer interns were offered housing on campus, an opportunity for the Museum to alleviate financial pressure while creating a deeper and more holistic intern experience. As Feale remarked, “Most of us haven’t been to Princeton before, so it was a chance to explore campus together. It was helpful to talk about how our projects will influence where we will go next and what we want to do in the future. I thought a lot about my own experience in museum education as a female and person of color; and being able to participate in a paid internship as part of the Museum Voices program at Princeton is integral to my career path.”
Curator of Academic Programs
Juliana Ochs Dweck
Mellon Curator of Academic Engagement
The Museum’s Summer Internship Program has been made possible, in part, by the Joseph F. McCrindle Art Museum Internship Fund; the Frelinghuysen Foundation; the Hilla von Rebay Foundation; the Anne C. Sherrerd, Graduate School Class of 1987, Art Museum Fund; and Christina Simonius, Class of 1990.