What Our Interns Have To Say

UMOCA prides itself on providing members of our community with interests in museums and the arts with door-opening opportunities. Our internship programs offer a variety of temporary work placements in numerous departments of the museum, from Front Desk and Marketing to Curatorial and Graphic Design, our interns get real-life, hands-on experience in their future fields. And who better to tell you about it than the interns themselves? We asked some of our summer interns to write about their experience with UMOCA and share their stories.


Visitor Services Intern, Emina Tatarevic discusses her overall experience interning at UMOCA. 

I am often asked by peers how I came to learn about the internship opportunities at The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. The short answer is always something along the lines of, “I just looked on their website and applied” but, in actuality, UMOCA has been somewhat of a constant in my life since the early days of elementary school.  As a child I attended an after school program that often collaborated with local organizations to create meaningful activities for students, one of these organizations happened to be UMOCA (then known as the Salt Lake City Art Center). I was invited, along with a group of fellow students, to work with the education coordinator at the time as part of a student-run exhibition. This opportunity allowed me to experience a behind-the-scenes perspective and sparked a life-long interest in art museum work.

Edit copyAs a Visitor Services intern, I had the opportunity to participate in some of UMOCA’s most acclaimed summer 2016 events including: Ririe Woodbury Dance Company’s in-house performance Interstice, Fluid Art, and the Annual Gala. Not only was I invited to attend each of these important events, but I also played a key role in assuring that these evenings were executed as successfully as possible. Due to UMOCA’s small and intimate staff size, I was able to work with each member of their team during these times. While the glamorous events have a tendency to stand out as memorable moments of my internship, the time I spent at the front desk was just as rewarding. Every weekend I spent a portion of my day greeting visitors, answering questions, and chatting with our patrons about their thoughts and experiences. Additionally, I was encouraged to write blog posts about these conversations, marking some of my most engaging interactions. UMOCA has an impressive presence that impacts visitors, both nationally and internationally, witnessing this influence was an unexpected but invaluable addition to the knowledge I gained while at the museum. As my internship comes to a close, I know that this opportunity to work with professionals in my field of interest will be beneficial in my future, and I am beyond grateful for the chance to learn from UMOCA’s staff, artists, contributors, and patrons.


Visitor Services Intern, Haylee Canonico interviews development and gala coordinator Michelle Sully  

During my internship at UMOCA, I was able get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into putting on the museum’s event of the year, UMOCA’s Annual Gala. I saw how the Salt Lake City community can come together to support local and international artists, find friendship and generosity in each other, and encourage exploration of what it means to exist in today’s world. This year UMOCA’s theme, 1931, inspired us to look into the past and remind us of where we started, but also recognize how far we have come as a museum, a community, and as a society. To get the inside scoop on the Gala I interviewed Michelle Sully, our Development Coordinator. Michelle not only writes grants, but is our gala coordinator so she knows all things gala. I asked Michelle to answer a few questions that would help readers understand what goes into Annual Gala from start to finish. The gala is our biggest event of the year and your continued support is the key to UMOCA’s success.


How far in advance do you start planning the gala?

“We start planning for the gala in August. That is when we come up with a theme and title. We try to get together about once or twice a month from August – January and then two to four times a month starting in February.”

What goes into planning?

“There’s a ton of little things that goes into the planning. Things that have to be done are also affected by the venue we choose; if it is held at UMOCA we have to get a liquor permit, have the landscaping tidied up, and get a noise waiver.

Recruiting committee members as soon after the gala as possible is the first step. Once we have a committee, we decide the theme. We meet with the curatorial department to start getting a list of artists we would like to ask to participate in the auction and start working on a logo for the event, sponsorship documents and website information.

From there we work on catering, mood boards for décor, and mailing lists for Save the Date’s and Invitations. In February, we find and secure a venue and start getting items for the silent auction. In March, invitations are sent out and in April we secure an auctioneer and emcee for the night and draft a list of duties for volunteers. Art works are also due the end of April for the May exhibition.”

What’s your favorite thing about the gala?

I don’t really have one favorite thing. I love it when the art works come in. It’s exciting to see work by new artists and what local artists are creating. I also enjoy the first look at the decorated venue just before guests start arriving. When you’re working on something, you tend to overlook the beauty of it.

How does the theme, 1931, relate to the Fallout?

The Fallout had the raw, contemporary feeling to it that we wanted, though, in contrast, the things that made it feel that way also made it feel like a speakeasy. It is pretty nondescript from the front; you don’t really pay special attention to it if you drive by. Inside, it was a little dark with exposed brick and industrial elements, much like the basements of buildings where speakeasies were found.

What happens to the money donated at the UMOCA gala?

The money made at the gala goes back into our exhibitions and educational programs. These programs benefit people of all ages and demographics. UMOCA hosts school tours, Family Art Saturday, Out Loud, artist lectures, and a number of other programs.

 How can guests benefit from donating?

At the gala, guests can benefit by purchasing auction items, including original art works, experience packages from other non-profits, and art-filled trips. Many guests don’t purchase anything, they simply donate money. Those guests get the benefit of knowing they donated to a cause that is vital to our community.

Can people continue to donate?

Not for the gala, but they can donate directly to UMOCA year-round.

How? They can donate by visiting: www.utahmoca.org. Under the support tab, click “Give”. They can also donate directly at the museum, send in a check, or contact me at michelle.sulley@utahmoca.org.


Far from just a glamorous night out, UMOCA’s internship programs leave our interns with memories, knowledge, experience, and skills to last them a lifetime as they navigate their way through the professional world. If you, or someone you know is interested in contemporary arts, do not hesitate to look into our next round of internships. You may find that we have something just right for you too.