Behind the Scenes: High School Students Help Curatorial Department
It’s never too early to gain experience in a field of interest, especially as a high school student. For Aaron, Jake, Patrick, and Leah, tenth grade students at Trinity High School, they are getting a head start on their careers by interning in the museum’s curatorial department every Thursday for the entire school year. The students received the internship through a larger program Trinity High School offers called the Pre-Professional Internship Program.
“The students have started interning at CMA during a pivotal time for the curatorial department,” said Maggie Wojton, curatorial assistant. “In that, we have just returned to CMA after spending more than 5 years away from the museum and in turn, away from the art.”
The students have been an integral part of this process of the staff returning to the museum, and have been working on archiving files, updating files, transferring object files into the new system, creating new filing systems, and conducting research. The work the students perform is important to the success of the museum because there are over 5,000 object and administrative files. With their assistance, they are able to help organize and make the process easier.
The curatorial assistants encourage the students to think independently and with an open mind.
“I will often present them with a scenario and then ask them what they would do or how would they approach this task,” Wojton said. “If they need help finding solutions I will often ask them a series of questions to help them find one that resolves their task. I am also encouraging them to speak up and speak their minds in a professional way. I think that it can be intimidating to come into an office setting as a sophomore in high school and do the tasks of interns that are typically in college or graduate school.”
The Trinity students have learned so far how much work and detail goes into the museum. They have also developed a new appreciation for art and a desire to travel to different museums.
“I’ve learned how much work actually goes into the museum,” said Jake. “There is so much behind the scenes work that I didn’t know happened. Each piece of artwork has a ton of paper work to go with it that describes the condition of the piece, the credit line,and all the people who have used it or owned it before it came to the museum.” While interning at the museum the students have had the time to go on a few tours. Their favorite parts of the collection are include the art in the Armor Court, the contemporary galleries, as well as ancient Egyptian art.
“I like contemporary art because you never know what to expect,” said Aaron. “My vision of art can be anything – it can be abstract or it can be a park scene, it can be a mixture of everything.”
“The Armor Court is my favorite because I like history and things that have to do with the military,” said Jake. “I’ve always been into history and to see all the old armor and guns and swords is really cool.”