As a second-year student with an interest in psychology, literature and the arts, I decided to do my co-op at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, a museum that encourages inquiry and to heighten public understanding and appreciation of the visual world. It’s the fifth largest museum in the United States that contains more than 450,000 works of art, making it one of the most comprehensive collections in the Americas. Located in Boston, Massachusetts
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston : Founded in 1870, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, can be located in the Back Bay part of Boston, Massachusetts. Today the MFA is one of the most comprehensive art museums in the world; the collection encompasses nearly 500,000 works of art. In February of 2020 The MFA celebrates its 150th anniversary with a weeks worth of celebration chock full of special presentations and exploring 150 years in 15 works of art.
Textiles and Fashion Arts Department – “The MFA’s textiles collection was started when Boston was the center of the US textile industry. Today the Museum owns more than 27,000 objects ranging from American needlepoint to European tapestries, Middle Eastern rugs, African kente cloths, and haute couture fashions.
The MFA has been collecting textiles since it opened in the 1870s, and in 1930 a separate Textile Department with dedicated curatorial staff was formed. Today, the Textile and Fashion Arts collection includes magnificent examples from ancient times through the present day, from cultures throughout the world. Mindbogglingly complex ancient Peruvian weaving’s, the finest Persian carpets, luxurious Italian Renaissance velvet’s, dramatic Japanese Noh play costumes, and twentieth-century couture by designers like Geoffrey Beene are just a few of the treasures that can be found here.” (The Museum of Fine Arts)
My Role at the MFA : As an intern for the Textile and Fashion Arts department at the MFA, I conducted research and organized upcoming exhibitions. Research grants opportunities for local history research, exhibition development, and digital dissemination. Maintaining records and cataloging acquisitions. Ensure the success of events by assisting with set up, clean up, and other logistics.
One of the main projects I am working on is collecting and compiling an excel sheet of references to fashion and fabric pieces artist John Singer Sargent has used to create his edwardian-era portraits. Most of my time at the MFA is spent reading through Sargent’s catalogue raisonne, which is a cumulative index to Sargent’s works throughout time. While reading I mark any notes made of any mention of fabric, style, or designers the sitters posed with in order to create his portraits. I take all this information and compile it onto a spreadsheet where I also include the dates the portraits were painted and collections the portraits were apart of. This work all is to help create the Sargent and Fashion exhibition which will not only be his painting but actual dresses and pieces of fabrics the sitter wore and that Sargent had stored. I also work closely with the Art of the Americas department to compile a checklist on pieces that will be included in the show to find out whether they are in storage, have been acquired, needs to be loaned from other museums or lenders, and/or needs to start the processes of acquisition.
When I am not working on the Sargent project I am providing any help I can on the Textiles departments annual symposium or I am taking the museums offered course on using The Museum Management System or TMS which is a relational database used to manage hundreds of museums and cultural and scientific collections worldwide and allows us to accurately get information on objects the museum has in storage.
For more information on The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Textiles and Fashion Arts Department check the links below:
The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is located at 465 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115
As a first-year student with an interest in literature and the arts, I decided to do my co-op at The Kitchen, “a non-profit, interdisciplinary organization that provides innovative artists working in the media, literary, and performing arts with exhibition and performance opportunities to create and present new work,” (The Kitchen) in New York City, New York.
What is The Kitchen? The Kitchen is one of New York City’s oldest nonprofit spaces, “showing innovative work by emerging and established artists across disciplines. Their programs range from dance, music, performance, and theater, to video, film, and art, in addition to literary events, artists’ talks, and lecture series. Founded as an artist collective in 1971 and incorporated as a nonprofit two years later, The Kitchen has from its infancy been a space where experimental artists and composers share progressive ideas with like-minded colleagues. It was among the very first American institutions to embrace the emerging fields of video and performance while presenting visionary new work in established disciplines such as dance, music, literature, and film. Since its inception, The Kitchen has been a powerful force in shaping the cultural landscape of this country and has helped launch the careers of many artists who have gone on to worldwide prominence” (The Kitchen).
My Role at The Kitchen: As a curatorial intern for the Kitchen, I assist with researching and organizing upcoming exhibitions, performances, and events at The Kitchen, which includes the development of timelines, checklists, and printed matter. I also aid in daily operations, implementing short-term and long-term projects, and providing general support, such as running errands outside the office or helping with an art installation. Additionally, I file and scan items for The Kitchen archive, help create content for the Archive website, and work in the gallery as a monitor.
A day at The Kitchen is always different. Some days are slow and other days are more hectic, but I always get work on different projects. After being here about 6 weeks now, I have settled into a sort of routine. Monday through Friday, with the exception of Wednesday, I wake up at 8:00 to shower, eat breakfast, and head out the door to catch the 9:10 E train to the World Trade Center. There I get off at 14th and Chelsea and walk five minutes to The Kitchen. Monday’s are office days, closed to the public, also known as Archival and errand day. I’m the only intern in the office so I run out and get any items that they might need or drop mail at the post office a couple of blocks away. When I am not running errands, I am sorting through the physical paperwork to start turning into digital archives that will be posted on The Kitchen’s website. Tuesdays and Thursdays are gallery days, and usually there are one or two other interns there. For half of the day, one of us is in the gallery monitoring the artwork and making sure things are running smoothly. The other part of the day we are either in the office or running errands. Fridays are the busiest days, with the gallery receiving most of their visitors then and The Kitchen hosting the New York Performance High School in the theater, so the interns are ready to help with any situation that arises throughout the day.
My most exciting times at The Kitchen thus far have been the opening performance days with receptions after the show. As interns, we are in charge of selling the merchandise and setting up and manning the bar. As a form of gratitude, The Kitchen reserves a seat for the show so we can watch and the receptions afterward are pretty relaxed and intimate.
The Kitchen’s Blog: As an intern for the Kitchen, one of the most foundational long-term projects that interns pursue is writing for The Kitchen’s blog. The blog is a platform mostly made up of archival, research, and interview-based writing where they encourage interns to engage with their personal ideas, and the ways their ideas and The Kitchen’s practices intersect. I will begin by writing two blog proposals that I will present to the Kitchen staff, who will then choose which blog post is best to pursue. Most of my time spent in the office not running errands will be used to do research and edit my blog post. My blog post will then be presented again to The Kitchen staff before it is edited and polished. At the end of my time at The Kitchen, the blog post will be published on The Kitchen’s website for all to see.
My work at The Kitchen has definitely enhanced my love for the arts and writing. For an artist to not only share their work with us but with the world is incredible, as it can be very vulnerable. Working at The Kitchen felt like dipping my toes into the water, starting slowly and carefully doing something that I have not done before but then realizing I actually enjoyed it.