That Crazy Space: An Introduction To My Summer With The Phillips Collection


Hi! My name is Kelsey Frenkiel and I will be interning with the Phillips Collection in D.C. this summer. I am incredibly excited for this opportunity, and although I don’t have an idea of my research project yet, I want to talk a little bit about how I got here and (hopefully!) where I’m going.


When I did my interview, I expected a little bit of confusion. Sure enough, when we got to the part of the discussion about my resume, I could almost hear my interviewer figuring out how to frame a question. Under “Education”, the second line after my B.A. reads “Oxford Brookes University, Expected MSc in Primate Conservation.” Rather than asking me point-blank what I’m doing applying to an art museum, Kelley graciously said, “What do you expect to gain from this experience?”


Although I’m clearly still carving a niche for myself, my focus is and always has been public engagement. Museums, zoos, and other interactive experiences are the things that got me interested in Anthropology, and my career goals will inevitably place me in one of these contexts. I firmly believe that at least half of the focus in academia should be on engaging the public, because, at the end of the day, its goals both directly affect the public and are contingent upon its support.


The Phillips Collection will be an incredible place to garner these skills. Their “About” page sums it up perfectly: “The Phillips Collection is an exceptional collection of modern and contemporary art in a dynamic environment for collaboration, innovation, engagement with the world, scholarship, and new forms of public participation.” Duncan Phillips has called it an “experiment station”, and I know that one of the phrases that motivates some of their research is “virtual culture”. I get overexcited about these terms because it means that TPC really does focus on getting the art off the walls (metaphorically, of course).


I want to thank Carol and Robert Woody, whose generous donation will be funding my research this summer, and the staff at the Charles Center, who have provided me with an incredible opportunity. I especially want to thank Kelley Daley, because she understood that crazy space that encompasses everything from modern art to primatology – and this is what I love about Anthropology.