Thursday, 8 June 2017




Here is part two of Internship Check-In! Let's jump right into it.

Today's post features:

Jessica Baptista: Museum London - London, ON
Alexis Moline: Museum of Vancouver - Vancouver, BC
Karley Staskus: The Law Society of Upper Canada at Osgoode Hall - Toronto, ON
Breanna Stephenson: Ontario Museum Association - Toronto, ON
Julia Zungri: Halton Heritage Services - Milton, ON

Describe what a typical day is like for you at your institution. What are some of your main duties and responsibilities?

Currently, I am working on organizing the details of five different outgoing loans that will be leaving Museum London over the course of the summer. I have been condition reporting artworks from closing exhibitions and helping with the preparation for their safe delivery back to the lending institutions. I have also been organizing the physical accession files within the art collection’s archives, learning how to complete accession paperwork following the acquisition of new pieces to the collection, and organizing the catalogue collection within the archives.

Alexis: On a typical day I spend time researching at my own personal desk with my own personal laptop (so adult!). I’m currently assigned to two upcoming exhibitions which has me quite busy. I am lucky enough to be invited to insider meetings with my supervisor and other employees at the museum. There are usually a few meetings a week where I get to sit in, listen and observe all that is involved in curatorial practice and exhibition planning! I have also spent a lot of time in collections handling and reporting on objects to be readied for upcoming shows. Every day is different and I love taking it all on!

Karley: A typical day interning with The Law Society of Upper Canada at Osgoode Hall is not really so typical. My main duties and responsibilities right now are providing summer tours and researching and preparing a mini exhibition. I spent most of the month of May planning and preparing for Doors Open Toronto 2017, which involved sitting in on meetings, preparing volunteer lists and information packages, and preparing signage for Osgoode Hall. I was also here for Doors Open Toronto 2017 and it was a crazy, jam-packed day which was so exciting to be a part of.

Breanna: Typically I am responsible for various tasks related to all OMA programs and conference content. I have two supervisors (one for conference and the other for programming) whom I assist and coordinate various projects with. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of designing for conference content and creating tracking documents which can be updated with ongoing information. I am also responsible for the OMA Awards of Excellence that will be presented at the conference this year, as well as a promotional video project involving speakers.

Julia: We are working on two major exhibitions with a very tight schedule, so a typical day for me right now is extremely packed! My main duties include conducting research and writing text for the exhibition panels, as well as helping fabricate and design the panels and other exhibit materials. Most of the exhibition development and fabrication gets completed in-house and I love it – there’s never a dull moment! 

Jessica taking a photo in front of her institution, Museum London. 
What is something you have learned in your first few weeks of your internship?

Jessica: I have learned that there are always projects and tasks on the go that need to be constantly monitored and always in the back of your mind as you progress day to day. There are always loans that are arriving and leaving the museum, exhibitions that are being installed and removed, artists arriving with donations and loans and exhibitions that are in progress. While these tasks are occurring daily, there may be last minute inquiries, complications or details that require immediate attention. As an Art Registrar, it's crucial to be able to anticipate events to the best of your ability, and to be able to budget your time effectively so objectives and deadlines are met.

Alexis: That Vancouver is ruled by crows. It’s a very lovely, comforting feeling to be constantly watched by at least 7 gigantic crows wherever you go. #atonewithnature

Karley: Over the last few weeks I have learned that a typical job title doesn't limit your tasks and duties, especially in this field. I also learned that Osgoode Hall is very confusing, and that I am amazing at getting lost trying to find my way back to my office. I have also learned that I am not afraid at the idea of ghosts, but maybe that will change by the end of my internship!

Breanna: That the museum/heritage sector is smaller than one might think. There are people whose names come up multiple times for different projects, and are involved with so many things that I wonder how they manage to do it all.

Julia: I’ve learned that you cannot jump right into a project without considering many, many aspects and going through numerous steps. Although we are working on such a tight deadline for these exhibits, we’ve spent the first few weeks of my time here focusing on what may seem like very minute details but which make the process much smoother in the long run. I’ve also realized that skills which are not often associated with museum studies are in fact extremely useful, such as graphic design and, believe it or not, woodworking.

Alexis striking a pose in front of the Museum of Vancouver!
What is something that has surprised you about museums that you did not know before working in a real one?

Jessica: I did not anticipate the volume of activity behind the scenes. Hundreds of emails, multiple projects on the go every day, and the number of people involved in museum daily operation.

Alexis: I’ve learned that not everything is planned and to go with the flow. It’s very comforting to see how realistically new tasks and assignments are dealt with as they arise and I’m happy to learn this institution is flexible in how it seemingly effortlessly faces unforeseen challenges.

Karley: N/A! The Law Society of Upper Canada's Osgoode Hall isn't a museum.

Breanna: Since I don’t technically work in a museum, it surprises me how many other people think that the OMA is a museum. There are people who call asking about our ‘collections’ (non-existent) or want information about some random institution in Ontario that may not be a OMA member or affiliated with the organization. We do our best to answer their questions, but I find it strange how little people really know about the OMA and what we really do.

Julia: What I have found most surprising was how much of museum work does not have to be outsourced. Perhaps it is the type of institution that I am working in, but we do everything from research and writing (which seems very typical) to design and fabrication of the panels. What smaller institutions are capable of, especially what I am capable of, has seemed to be the biggest surprise thus far!
Karley interning with The Law Society of Upper Canada at Osgoode Hall.
What are you most looking forward to in your internship? What excites you about your internship?

Jessica: I love exploring the museum’s art collections and the vaults where the material objects are housed. Every object has a wonderful story waiting to be told!  

Alexis: I am excited to see how the different stages of exhibition planning unfold. I am working on exhibitions that open in September 2017 and June 2018 and observing a show that will open in a few weeks – it’s so interesting to see the dynamics and energy involved from start to finish.

Karley: I am most looking forward to preparing and presenting my mini exhibition. I have spent the last few weeks researching and choosing objects from the permanent collection that excite me and tell a story. I am excited to see it all come together. What excites me about my internship is that no two days have been completely the same! I also gave my first tour ever this week, which was extremely exhilarating.

Breanna: Something that I am really excited about is assisting with the upcoming OMA conference. I have never attended a museum conference before, let alone helped plan one, but this internship is allowing me the chance to see how much effort and work goes into those few days. Also, heads up, we will be announcing soon when Early Bird Registration will be open for Conference this year, and be on the lookout for possible student/volunteer opportunities!

Julia: What excites me most about my internship is being able to significantly contribute to major projects that have a tangible end result. Being so hands-on and immersed in exhibition development and collections is giving me practical and valuable experience that cannot be taught in class. I thoroughly enjoy not being treated like a student, but as another employee at the institution and therefore given responsibilities that allow me to get my creative senses tingling and learn so much more!

Breanna taking a selfie at the OMA! 
What do you hope to accomplish while you are at your internship?

Jessica: I hope to gain a well-rounded understanding of the various responsibilities of an Art Registrar.

Alexis: I hope to be able to have an even firmer grasp on the practical, real-life workings of museums. There are things you can’t learn if you don’t experience them firsthand, so I’m hoping to experience it all!

Karley: I hope to prepare and present an exciting online exhibition about an object from the permanent collection. This was one of my hopes coming into the internship portion of the program, and so far it's going really well!

Breanna: One of the main reasons I really wanted this internship was to drastically expand my museum network. The fact that I am emailing, meeting, speaking with numerous museum and heritage professionals is providing me the chance to connect with them, and in turn putting my name out there for future opportunities.

Julia: After only a few weeks, I already know that I will gain valuable experience at my internship that I can use in the future for networking and career building, as well as my second year exhibition project. I also hope to learn much more in areas that I am not so familiar with such as graphic design.

Julia in action! She's getting hands-on experience with exhibit fabrication for an upcoming exhibit at Oakville Historical Society.
What’s your passion?

Jessica: My passion is the conservation and preservation of objects of material culture, particularly glass-plate negatives and anything older than the 20th century.

Alexis: My passion is curation, specifically how research and knowledge can be shared with the public to activate critical thinking and social change.

Karley: My passion is the study of and interpretation of history. I strongly believe that heritage institutions play a vital role in a community's well-being and connection to culture. 

Breanna: I have various passions. But for the sake of this Q&A, I shall limit it to museums. My dream is to be part of an organization that is committed to improving international relations between Canadian museums and other institutions around the world. The potential to open up the channels of communication, to increase the number of art and artifacts that can travel via technology or other means, and to foster more awareness about other cultures and their art forms is right there; we just have to take that first leap.

Julia: My internship has certainly confirmed my passion for curatorial work, particularly exhibition development. I’m fascinated with getting fully immersed into a particular history or story and falling down the rabbit hole of researching and writing.

Big thank you to Jessica, Alexis, Karley, Breanna and Julia for participating in this interview and taking the time to reflect on your experiences. In two weeks, we'll have Part Three of the series!

1 comment:

  1. Everyone is having such awesome experiences!! These are so fun to read :)