Note: Interested in learning more about museum careers? Check out internship opportunities at the Denver Art Museum.
When I first became an intern with family and community programs in May 2014, I was interested in working in museum education and in improving my skills by developing dynamic programming for families. I had completed a BA in art history and a master’s in museum studies and this was the opportunity that pushed my career in the right direction. My summer internship solidified my passion for this field and I became a program facilitator in the fall, delivering and engaging our programs with visitors (Create-n-Takes, the Studio, the Family Backpack Cart, etc.).
By the spring of 2015, I became a special projects assistant for our Native Arts Artist-in-Residence program, where I interact with our incoming artists and build programming around their residency. I have since gained responsibility for scheduling our program facilitators and in helping family and community programs with various projects, like birthday parties. My internship at the Denver Art Museum has been a driving force in the opportunities I have received at the museum. Below is a conversation I had with current intern and program facilitator, Laura Levy (pictured above), about her experience as an intern with family and community programs.
Nicole Laurin: What led you to apply for the internship?
Laura Levy: In previous internships I was doing mostly curatorial work and I did a few projects in education. I liked the idea of working more directly with the public, so I decided to apply for an internship with family and community programs. Also, I enjoy working with kids.
NL: What kinds of projects did you work on while interning for family programs?
LL: Over the summer I primarily assisted with summer camps and Create-n-Takes. In the fall I developed a project for Create Playdate based on shapes found in pre-Columbian pottery. I am currently working on a Create-n-Take for the western art gallery for the summer of 2016.
NL: What skills did you develop through the internship?
LL: This is not necessarily a skill, but I have learned how great brainstorming with others can be. Often when I’ve felt stuck, talking out the problem with other people has led to some really great ideas. It’s nice to get outsider perspective on something you’ve been so focused on that you can’t step back and see it from different angles. Creative problem solving is something I’ve learned from my time at the DAM. There are a lot of things that must be taken into consideration when planning an in-gallery activity, such as the types of materials the activity requires, how difficult the activity is to do, and how well it relates to an object in the museum’s collection. I’ve had to rework my Create-n-Take several times in order to make it work with budgetary requirements and make it connect to an object in the collection.
NL: What is your favorite program you worked on?
LL: I really loved working on Create Playdate. It was the first project that I worked on from conception all the way to implementation. I loved seeing the kids being genuinely excited about the project they made. Also, I think working with this age group is a lot of fun.
NL: How will the skills you’ve learned help you with your future jobs and career?
LL:I think creative problem solving is an important skill to have, regardless of the field you work in. Being able to think outside of the box and find alternative solutions is invaluable. Working the Create-n-Takes has also given me a lot of experience working with people. I feel much more comfortable now engaging with visitors and talking about art. Obviously, this is important for any job that requires you to work directly with the public. I think it is particularly important for museum education because I often find that kids and adults alike can be shy and need prompting to join in on activities.