Hi, there! My name is Alison Thompson, and I am writing to share my personal experience as a Department of Photography Intern at the George Eastman Museum. For the past nine weeks, I have not only expanded my knowledge on history of photography, film, and museum practice, but I worked with an extremely diverse, intelligent, and thoughtful staff! Under their supervision, I was able to complete a variety of museum-related projects, giving me a great deal of academic and work experience.
I began my summer internship at the beginning of June, and was very excited to be working in an internationally recognized museum. I was assigned to work on the exhibition history files, where I was paired with another intern to reorganize the entire collection of exhibition history files and records. I would examine the contents of these exhibition files, from the first exhibitions that occurred in 1949, up to the most recent exhibits. I was able to see the change in museum practice over the several years, such as what documents were considered to be of importance. My favorite part of this project was being able to see the progression of museum and exhibition advertisement over the years. It was interesting seeing how the museum would connect with the local community through advertising means, or how as years went on, exhibitions were advertised to travel nationally and internationally.
Another project I was assigned to was doing research on the history of photography and different types of alternative processes for the museum’s docent program. I ended up creating an extensive bibliography and guide for the docents to use so they could better their knowledge in photo history. I would spend part my time here at the museum working on this project, as well as helping out in the Registrar’s Department. I gained a broad knowledge on how to use a museum database while spending my time in Registrar’s, and had the chance to learn the ins-and-outs of how museum acquires artworks and objects.
The opportunities the museum provided for me has made me immensely grateful, and has truly made an impact on my academic and professional life. While majority of the internship was spent working towards completing the assignments I received before leaving at the end of the summer, I was fortunate enough to obtain gallery tours from the head curator, be a part of department and all-staff staff meetings, receive museum practice trainings, be given extensive tours of the collections, and attend sponsored programs and events (such as seeing the famous actor Michael Keaton in person!). These experiences I partook in as an intern show the museum’s educational and personal interest in making you secure a positive working experience. This is a position I will never forget, and I would encourage anyone looking into this internship program to highly consider it!
Alison is a senior at the State University of New York at Potsdam working on her B.A. in Art History with minors in Museum Studies, Art Studio, and a concentration in Photography. She completed her internship at the George Eastman Museum in the Department of Photography in early August 2016.