Reflections On A Summer Internship at UMOCA

“Hello! Welcome to UMOCA! Have you ever been in before?”  

I’ve probably said this phrase at least a hundred times this summer. As an intern, one of my roles is to greet people from behind the front desk. The answers to this question are equally exciting; if the museum-goer says no, you get to share what UMOCA is all about and encourage them to ask questions. If they say yes, you get to welcome them back to a space they’ve already been, but to see all new exhibits.

For me, this internship has really been about getting to share my love of art with staff members who love art equally as much, as well as with patrons who are both avid museum-goers and unsure of where they stand in terms of contemporary art. Contemporary art can seem intimidating, so having hesitant people come and stop by the front desk on their way out to tell you how much they loved a certain exhibit is really rewarding—even if all you did was convince them to check out the exhibitions after they stepped in for air conditioning.

“For me, this internship has really been about getting to share my love of art with staff members who love art equally as much…”

Because of UMOCA’s small staff size, I’ve been offered the chance to work on projects in different departments. Under Kendal Sudman in the Visitor Services department, I’ve been working on translating pamphlets to make the museum experience friendlier to our international visitors. In the education department with the guidance of Elly Baldwin, I’ve been helping create a lesson plan based on an art exhibit on community. As someone barely over a year out of high school, it’s definitely unusual to get to be a part of designing a lesson plan for high schoolers, but this is just one of the many unique opportunities UMOCA has given me.

“As UMOCA makes the art world more accessible to its interns, we get to serve as a part of the interface that makes art more accessible to the public.”

Recently, I got to spend the day with our curator, Jared Steffensen, and chief preparator, John Burdick, shadowing them as they de-installed the exhibit in our Main Gallery. Getting to help clean and carry a piece of artwork is just as thrilling as you would expect it to be, especially after you’ve spent your whole life being told not to touch the artwork (but seriously, please don’t touch the artwork unless you are wearing surgical gloves and are told to do so by a curator).

Still, some of my favorite moments are the more mundane tasks: opening the museum in the morning, turning on the first lights and then the sound in Willow Skye-Biggs’ Tastes Like Mandy installation. It has a stadium light switch sound effect, incinuating that something big is happening right in the compact room we call the Codec Gallery.

As UMOCA makes the art world more accessible to its interns, we get to serve as a part of the interface that makes art more accessible to the public.

Alejandra