This summer I’m working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a design intern. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is not only a museum, but a cultural institution. The Met is a museum for the public, a library for scholars and also an education center for citizens. Actually I hadn’t realized how valuable it is until I started my training at the Museum Seminar Series (MuSe). The MuSe Internship program is a ten-week internship program for undergraduate and graduate students. The first two weeks of the Muse Internship Program were structured as a workshop,  focused on informing the interns about the Met’s philosophy and training us to give gallery talks. As a result, each of us will give tours that we designed ourselves 3 times this summer. Apart from that, every Friday we get together again to listen to lectures and talks that cover every aspects of the museum: not only 17 different curatorial departments but also other crucial supporting departments, like the Design Department, the Conservation Department, etc.

On most weekdays, I work at the Design Department helping with exhibition design. For me, it is such a privilege to work in a landmark building and help curate the rooms inside this masterpiece of architects like Calvert Vaux and Mckim Mead & White. I help with different designers and work on several projects at the same time. They range from the costume institute’s show for this fall to a modern contemporary show that will happen in 2018. By preparing physical and digital models and laying out gallery plans, I learned a lot about how to manipulate physical spaces and formal vocabularies to express the value of art and curatorship. Being able to work on a lot of shows, I also learned directly from a lot of curators. This got me thinking about Historic Preservation, as the two fields are comparable in a lot of ways. They both have to recognize the value of cultural objects and present them to the public; they both assume the responsibility of carrying the past into the contemporary and maybe extending it to the future; they both have to connect dots and create coherent narratives. Last but not least, they both shoulder the technological part of fixing and preserving. In fact, being trained as a gallery guide also made me think the curated works of art. In order to engage visitors, I have to know all the background information for the artworks and, at the same time, find a common theme among them to connect the dots. It is a valuable experience and it has given me the chance to become a good public speaker. Now I have only 3 and a half weeks left, and I want to make every day count by learning and myself.

Qi Photo
Preservation work at the Met in preparation  for exhibition installation
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