First Week at the Phillips

My first week interning at the Phillips Collection really threw me into museum work in a way that made the space feel like home to me. I’m working in the University of Maryland Center for Art and Knowledge at the Phillips Collection, formerly the Center for the Study of Modern Art. The Center serves as a hub for the museum’s academic and public programming initiatives and is located in the carriage house behind the museum. This cozy space fits nine people (including myself) working on exhibits, academic programming, public programming, the Phillips’ music program, grant writing, and media production. With so much going on in such a small space I’ve learned a lot about the museum in a very short amount of time, and gotten to know many of the people who run various aspects of the museum.

Now that there’s some background I can tell you more about what I actually did this past week. On my first day I got to take a quick tour of the Phillips Collection on the one day the museum is closed to the public: Monday. It was essentially a dream come true to walk the halls and experience viewing the art in a one-on-one setting. Besides having the museum practically to myself, I was fortunate to tour the museum that Monday since it was the last day before the house section of the museum closed for maintenance (to be reopened in early 2018). After learning a bit about the museum and the Center, I started working on an on-going project to reorganize the curatorial archive, which gave me a unique window into the artists and works collected by the Phillips.

The next day I continued working with the archive and also got to transcribe part of the audio tour for the now-open exhibit: Markus Lupertz. Later in the week I got to attend a staff tour of the exhibit led by the museum’s director, which helped me connect the audio guide that I had transcribed with the visual experience of seeing the works in person. That same day I got to sit in on a strategic programming meeting for an exhibit opening this fall: Renoir and Friends, which was an excellent way to see how the Phillips Collection plans its exhibits, designs its programming,  and runs its meetings. This past week I also learned more about planning exhibits as I worked on the catalogue checklists for two other upcoming exhibits. Working with the catalogue checklists taught me more about the Phillips and its dedication to presenting diverse artworks as well as the general process of producing a catalogue – which involves research and communication between various museums and galleries.

While my week was packed with new experiences, I thoroughly enjoyed every single moment. I was pleased to find that the work I’m completing for the Phillips Collection this summer is useful and productive, and I am excited to contribute my efforts to such a wonderful institution. From what I have gleaned in my first week, I can see that the Phillips Collection staff is truly a family, one that laughs together and works together to effectively solve problems and develop new and exciting ideas. Basically, my first week has been amazing, and I can’t wait for the weeks to come!