Fall 2016 Art History/Museum Studies Student Interns

Kirsten Meiszinger

I am a transfer student from Georgian College, Ontario, and am in my final semester of the BFA – Studio Art program. This is my first internship at the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery. My passion for museum and gallery collections started in high school when I got a summer job at a small local museum. Since then my excitement for art and artefacts has grown. The past two years I completed two summer internships at the Orillia Museum of Art and History as a Collections Assistant There I learned how to maintain and preserve a collection. After I moved here I began volunteering with Culture Vulture Saturdays at the U of L Art Gallery, but I wanted more collections experience and thus am pursuing this internship. I’m excited to be within the Art Gallery’s Collection department working with Registrar Juliet Graham, Curatorial Assistant Andrea Kremenik, and the rest of the art gallery team.

During my time working with the art collection I hope to become more skilled and aware of artefact management and preservation. I will learn how to store and maintain a wide variety of media, including painting, sculpture, and paper artworks. It is very important that gallery and museum collections are stored safely, in order to preserve them for future generations. I will also be learning how to prepare work for travel, currently we are shipping a series of artworks to France. The hands-on experience is crucial in learning skills faster and in aiding me in my future career goals. One of my main projects this semester will be to select a series of works from the collection as a support for the upcoming art + people = x series show. This year’s theme is “50”, in honor of the University’s 50th anniversary in 2017. I’m tasked with making a selection of artworks whose job will be to inspire local artists to create new work for the upcoming show. This role will help me familiarize myself with the collection and the TMS database system. Having first-hand experience working with a database system is an amazing asset to have entering into the workforce. I’m very excited to dive into this hands-on learning experience, I feel like I have already grown so much in the short time I have been here.

Amy Parks
I’ve been fascinated with stories and artifacts from the past as long as I can remember and feel an eager curiosity about the culture and circumstances in which these artefacts are made. While completing a History degree at the University of Calgary, I took several Art History courses and was inspired to continue learning about history by studying art. My time in the Art History and Museum Studies program at the University of Lethbridge has not only given me the knowledge and experience to pursue my interests, but also the critical thinking skills for scrutinizing the way in which people engage with museums and find value in their experiences.
I’m interested in the ways in which museums play a valuable role in a community, and the ways in which the museum-going experience can be improved. This semester, I’m excited to be participating in a unique independent study that allows me to explore these ideas in both theoretical and empirical ways. Other experiences, such as a summer research assistant position, curating University staff and student art, and interning at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, have all given me insight into the diversity of responsibilities and challenges faced by professionals in cultural institutions. This term, however, my independent study will instead ask me to examine how the public experiences arts and culture. Working under the supervision of Dr. Josephine Mills, Dr. Louise Barrett, and with PhD students Miranda Lucas and Maria Madacky, I’ll be conducting a study examining the role of art education and hands-on art practice in a person’s experience of art in a gallery. This will be my first opportunity to do empirical research and I look forward to exploring unfamiliar theoretical, practical, and disciplinary territory. In addition to designing an experiment, I’ll be learning about theories concerning the relationship between the gallery and the public, and discussing these ideas with graduate students. Thus, my independent study will fulfill the requirements of a fourth-year theory course with the added value of practical experience.

Not only do I look forward to developing a broader perspective on how members of the public engage with museums and galleries, but this independent study will expose me to experiences and ideas that will set me on the path to graduate with a strong sense of direction for future career and academic decisions. After I complete my degree, my goal is to continue my studies in a Master’s program. The collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of my independent study will prepare me for this work since I will be engaging with assigned texts, developing my critical reading skills, as well as getting my feet wet in the research application process. Finally, I anticipate finding intriguing topics amongst the variety of ideas I will come across during this study. I am thrilled to conclude my Art History and Museum Studies degree with such a breadth of experience!

Elise Pundyk

I am in my fourth year of study in the Faculty of Fine Arts, where I am pursuing a major in Art History/Museum Studies. This program has given me the opportunity to work on internship projects in the collection at both the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery and the Galt Museum & Archives. For my third internship placement through the program, I will be at the Galt Museum and Archives working with the museum’s curator, Wendy Aitkens. The main focus of my internship is to develop the inventory system at Fort Whoop-Up by continuing a project that I worked on as a summer employee there.

Fort Whoop-Up is an interpretive facility that tells the story of the buffalo robe trade in the Lethbridge area in the last half of the nineteenth-century. The Galt became the operators of the facility in early 2016, and I was fortunate to gain a position as an interpreter there this past summer. One of my responsibilities was to work with Aitkens to construct an inventory of the objects at the Fort. I will continue to work with this inventory to create a room-by-room record of the objects used to tell the Fort’s colourful history.

In both my previous internships, I learned about the handling, security, environmental controls, and other aspects of collection care that are vital to daily collection tasks. The object inventory at the Fort differs from these collections because the objects are stored in an open-air space so the extent to which the objects are monitored is different from formal museum and gallery collections. Furthermore, the interpretive centre’s primary goal is to create an immerse environment for visitors to learn the history. Therefore, the objects acquired are less sensitive in terms of preservation than they would be in a gallery or museum. This enables the visitors to interact with the objects to a greater extent. While it is still important to treat the objects with care, the purpose of the inventory places more emphasis on accessibility and less on preservation. One of my goals, this term, is to develop an understanding of the various approaches used with different types of collections. In addition, I would like to learn more about the decision-making process that happens when acquiring objects for storytelling purposes, as opposed to acquiring for a collection that emphasizes preservation and research.

The exciting part of this opportunity is that it will challenge me to apply my past experience and education pertaining to collection practices, where consistency and clarity are two of the most important aspects of caring for collections. By doing so, we can develop a systematic approach to collection practices at the Fort in hopes that future employees can work with it with ease. In summary, my goal is that my efforts will have a lasting impact on object care at the Fort.

Jessica Humphries
As this is my final semester in the Art History/Museum Studies program, I am thrilled with my placement at Lethbridge City Hall in Recreation and Culture as a Public Art Intern for my third internship. In my previous experiences, the internship program has allowed me to assess the differences between a gallery collection and a museum’s. The invaluable skills I have gained from my past placements will support me in taking on a more advanced project with the City of Lethbridge. More importantly, this project will bring my education full circle since I have the opportunity to exercise the skills I have gained more independently, which marks how instrumental the Museum Studies is.

During my time with the City I will develop a cataloguing system for the public art collection that can be adopted by whomever takes over the project My tasks include confirming all known and unknown locations of the art. This will allow me to build an accurate inventory that consolidates textual information with accompanying imagery. Additionally, I can build a labeling system to help track the movement of each installed artwork and any works gifted to the City in the future. Although this project is quite extensive, I hope to reach the stage of photographing and creating condition reports for each work. In all eventuality, I want to leave a descriptive plan of action for any successors to the project.

My time with the City will also be a chance to expand on my knowledge of public art collections and get hands on experience concerning how art that is installed permanently in the public differs from art in a gallery or museum setting. Moreover, experiencing an environment that I expect is far different from that of my first two internships will expand my experience positively for future job opportunities. I also see this chance as a way to learn about the collections history with the City of Lethbridge, and the individual histories of the artworks in question. By engaging with this history I can connect further with a city I have called home for almost two decades, which for myself bolsters my pride for my community in its dedication to the arts, and as a whole.