Tales from the internship #3: Intern life at the Muscarelle Museum

Meet Nathan Alston, a W&M junior studying government and theatre. Nathan’s from Chesapeake, Virginia and plans to attend law school after graduation. This summer, Nathan interned at the Muscarelle Museum of Art where he researched and wrote the audio tour and quick response tags for an upcoming exhibition of 50 impressionist paintings from the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. He offers his reflections about the experience.

In my two years at William and Mary, I have begun to recognize a trend in many of my experiences. I have discovered that often I am put into circumstances and situations that are completely foreign to me and take some getting used to. This summer was no exception. Over the past two months I have served as an intern at the Muscarelle Museum of Art and many of my experience here have been very different from anything I’ve ever done before.

My involvement with the Muscarelle first began upon a recommendation from a friend. One of my best friends explained to me one evening that she had a great internship this summer at the Muscarelle. She described what she would be doing at the museum and my interest was immediately piqued. After emailing the museum and a brief interview, I was offered the internship.

Student interns (right to left) Kat Miliberger and Nathan Alston, with post-graduate curatorial fellow Kathryn Fay work on a summer art project.

On my first day, I enthusiastically walked into the museum’s front doors and sat down with the intern coordinator Amy to discuss my summer project. She explained that I would be researching an art movement known as Impressionism in order to prepare for an upcoming exhibition. I received a list of important Impressionist paintings and was sent to a computer to begin my research. Initially, I was excited. I have always loved art and found this to be a great opportunity to learn something new. Then, after reading a couple articles about Impressionism, my initial excitement began to fade and panic set in. I began to realize that researching Impressionism would be difficult for me because I know absolutely nothing about art. As a theatre and government major I know a lot about political theory and theatre history, but nothing about art. This realization made me extremely nervous but I decided I would try to do the best research I could. So, after throwing trepidation aside, I hastily made my way to Swem Library and checked out as many Impressionism books as possible to begin my research.

I actually found Impressionism to be absolutely fascinating. I found the art works stunning and the painters- including Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir- inspiring. My love of art grew as I found more information about Impressionism.

Nathan (left) and his fellow Muscarelle interns prepare for an intern appreciation event.

After a couple weeks of work at the Muscarelle I began to grow more and more comfortable. I really got to know my fellow interns and everyone was extremely helpful, which created a really exciting work environment. One of my most memorable experiences with the interns is the day that a financial adviser came to Muscarelle to talk to us exclusively about personal finance. While the information session was incredibly educational, the expressions on the interns’ faces were priceless. We all cringed at words including debt, insurance and budgeting, all of which seemed way too adult for us. After our initial shock (and an awesome meal at the Cheese Shop), we began to truly take in the information presented to us. We also realized how much the museum’s employees really care about their interns.

As the summer comes to a close and I submit the final copy of my Impressionism project, I can say that I truly learned a lot this summer. I learned about art as well as working in a professional environment, both of which were new to me at the beginning of the summer. My internship at the Muscarelle has been an invaluable experience and I have truly loved my time here.

Want to learn more about summer internships at the Muscarelle Museum? Visit their website for information about internships and volunteer opportunities.

Categories: Arts & Culture, Careers, Faculty & Staff Blogs, Research

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